I spend a lot of time writing about buying local and seasonal and supporting your local businesses. And that is definitely important, as the recent horsemeat scandal has reminded us. But until we can grow bananas, coffee and cocoa beans in the fields around Harpenden and St Albans, we do need to import food too.
The sales of Fairtrade foods has grown by 19% so UK shoppers are getting the message, and are trying to do their bit. We know that buying Fairtrade is one way to give farmers a fair deal. I am still amazed that not every supermarket and market stall makes it easy. One of our large local supermarkets this week had piles of bananas and I could not find any labelled ‘Fairtrade’. This is a supermarket that prides itself on its sourcing and shiny new fruit and vegetable department.
When I compared prices of bananas last year, it was a matter of pennies per banana difference to buy Fairtrade and I am sure all supermarkets can absorb this, as can many shoppers in our local area. Fairtrade bananas in the “smart” supermarkets, were in fact, cheaper than some non-Fairtrade bananas in the largest supermarkets.
We can all do our bit by choosing one or two Fairtrade products each time we shop, over the alternatives. Our excellent market stalls are not great at labelling where goods come from, but I am sure if people ask, they will tell you. If they know people want to buy Fairtrade, it will have an impact on sourcing, and the more we buy, the more affordable it should become.
FAIRTRADE CITY STATUS
You might remember during Fairtrade Fortnight last year I mentioned a team of local people and businesses trying to regain Fairtrade City status for St Albans. This was achieved last week (WELL DONE!), and I was delighted to see the new certificate on display at the Fairtrade Stall in the market last Saturday. I think the Fairtrade Steering Group managed this with very little input from the local council – it just shows what people can do when they feel strongly about an issue. There is even more to do, with the Fairtrade Steering Group wanting to hear from schools, cafes, shops, restaurants and businesses about what they are doing to support Fairtrade. If you already sell Fairtrade, and would like to register what you do, or would like more information about local projects and initiatives visit http://www.fairtradestalbans.org.uk. Put up a sign to show your customers that you support Fairtrade – it’s great marketing, and reminds people to support Fairtrade. I wonder if the council will spend some money on a new sign to celebrate this achievement? Or are there any local food businesses that might be able to?
During Fairtrade Fortnight Taysir Arbasi spoke at Trinty United Reform Church about Palestinian Olive Oil (Zaytoun), and its journey from the farm to the table. Guests at the talk shared snacks made with Fairtrade ingredients such as Divine chocolate brownies, cakes baked with “Tropical Wholefoods” mango, pineapple, and raisins. Date flapjacks and Cashew and mushroom cous cous showed what can be cooked with Zaytoun products. You can find Zaytoun products in local Oxfam shops (along with a terrific range of Easter eggs). New Fairtrade foods make their way into our shops all the time, so keep a look out new ideas, that can add a delicious international dimension to your cookery.
Fairtrade foods to buy (BOX FEATURE)
Sales of Fairtrade goods in the UK rose last year by 19%! Here are just some of the goodies you can buy:
Nuts and peanut butter