Most of our readers will know what Fairtrade is about, but being Fairtrade Fortnight, I thought it worth looking at what you can buy locally.
The good news is that the UK is one of the world’s leading Fairtrade markets, with more products and more awareness of Fairtrade than anywhere else.
at the supermarket
The Co-operative is the best supermarket for Fairtrade food and we have branches in Cell Barnes Lane (St Albans), High Oaks (New Greens), Haseldine Road (London Colney), and How Wood (Park Street). The Co-op got behind Fairtrade before any of the other supermarkets, and has a real commitment to using Fairtrade. All supermarkets now stock some Fairtrade food, but astonishingly, still only 20% of bananas sold in the UK are Fairtrade. I can understand that people are very price-driven when shopping, but this week I found six Fairtrade bananas for 99p in Sainsbury’s; this is a bargain. The more we choose Fairtrade at the supermarket, the more supermarkets will get the message that we do care about fair prices to farmers.
I wrote about Fairtrade fortnight last year, and looking again this year I can see that the range of products has grown. Every supermarket sells more Fairtrade products and the prices have come down. As well as good value bananas, Sainsbury’s were selling Cafe Direct Fairtrade tea bags at £1.64 for 80. They had Fairtrade products throughout the shop, including their Basics range Hot Chocolate. Fairtrade wine, honey, fruit, sugar, nuts, coffee, tea and many products made with these ingredients. I saw Fairtrade jelly beans and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, made with Fairtrade sugar and vanilla. If you would like to try something really special, Santo Domingo Organic Fairtrade Dark Chocolate was £1.32 and Macchu Picchu Organic Gourmet Fresh Ground Coffee £3.48. It is all a step in the right direction.
Oxfam was a founding organisation for the Fairtrade Foundation and every food item they sell in their shops is Fairtrade. Locally, the St Albans branch sells the largest range, including Clipper and Cafe Direct tea, coffee, biscuits, dried fruit and chocolate. Dried mango is their biggest seller, and they have a really good range of Easter eggs and chocolate treats. The Harpenden branch will be selling Fairtrade Easter Eggs. On Saturday both shops teamed together to run a stall in St Albans market. Lots of shoppers were stopping to try and buy, encouraged by the chocolate rabbits on offer to taste! I was very interested to see a range of Fairtrade products on sale from Palestine, including olive oil, medjoul dates and couscous. If you are interested in buying the Palestinian Zaytoun range, contact Barbara Starkey on 01727 853154.
The largest chocolate suppliers in the UK do have some Fairtrade products, but by no means the whole range. Critics would say that the big companies are using the Fairtrade logo for PR purposes and don’t show a commitment to the developing countries. Divine are a range of really delicious good quality chocolate that is entirely Fairtrade, and they are easy to find in the supermarkets, as well as Oxfam. They are doing Easter Eggs too, so look out for them.
Hotel Chocolat in St Albans is about to enter their busiest time of year. They do not use Fairtrade chocolate because they have developed their own strategy of “fair” and ethical trade. As Lynn Cunningham, company director explains “We had looked at the very respectable achievements of Fair Trade and the Ethical Trading Initiative, but it was clear to me that we needed to do something that better fitted our own business culture…more hands-on.” Hotel Chocolat work with producers in Ghana and St Lucia, and pay 30-40% above market rates for cocoa, and pay within a week. Previous customers were taking an outrageous six months to pay the farmers, which meant many were struggling to plan ahead. So I think you can shop in their (fairly…) guilt-free.
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives. The Fairtrade Foundation has licensed over 3,000 Fairtrade certified products for sale through retail and catering outlets in the UK.
Leon Superfood Salad
from The Fairtrade Everyday Cookbook (published by Dorling Kindersley)
30g Fairtrade quinoa
200g broccoli, cut into florets
120g peas, fresh or frozen, cooked
2 dessertspoons juice of Fairtrade lemon
4 dessertspoons olive oil
salt and Fairtrade pepper, to season
100g cucumber, cut into batons
100g feta cheese, crumbled
20g alfalfa sprouts
20g toasted seeds (eg Fairtrade sunflower, flax and pumpkin seeds)
1 Fairtrade avocado, cut into chunks
handful each of mint and parsley, chopped
1. Cook the quinoa for about 15 minutes following the packet instructions.
2. Steam or boil the broccoli and peas together for three minutes. Drain, then rinse under cold water.
3. Mix together the lemon juice and oil to make a dressing, and season to taste.
3. Build your salad using all the remaining ingredients either on two plates or in a large bowl to share.
4. Dress the salad with the dressing just before you eat it.