Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Simple Suggestion #6 of 100... Drink fair trade coffee or tea

At the Social Justice Institute that I attended on the weekend, there was a session on Fair Trade running at the same time as the workshop I gave. I wish I could have bi-located, as there's a lot about Fair Trade that I don't know. What I have learned about Fair Trade is that for a product to be Fair Trade certified, its production is carefully scrutinized in regards to fair labour practices and safe working conditions, whether wages are appropriate, and whether the product is produced using environmentally sustainable practices. What I just recently learned (through chatting with the reps at the Fair Trade booth on Saturday) is that not only can we drink Fair Trade coffee and tea and enjoy fair trade chocolate and other cocoa products, but there are more and more products being certified as Fair Trade: spices, vanilla extract, molasses, sugar, and quinoa to name a few.

The whole point of Fair Trade is that farmers in developing countries aren't being exploited by large corporations, but are being treated fairly and using their land well. It means we might pay a bit more for the pleasure of indulging in their products, but isn't that better than decimating their lands and families? Unfortunately, a lot of big name tea, coffee and chocolate companies are more concerned with getting their commodities at the lowest price than they are with ensuring their producers are being treated fairly. I don't know about you, but I can't support injustice like that. I'm willing to pay a bit more (and perhaps cut my consumption in half to afford it) so that there's no "slavery flavour" in what I eat.

If you want to know more about Fair Trade and the good things happening in Canada in that regard, check out, and buy Fair Trade whenever possible. If it's not possible where you live, ask for it. We consumers have the power to effect change, but sometimes we have to speak up and act for that change.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? See here.

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