Fair Trade food allows your money to change hands the best way: from those who have it to those who need it. Besides that, you get tasty stuff !
|Fair Trade rice. Photo by Oscar|
The range of Fairly Traded food and beverages available is wide enough to have them all day long (which in fact I do): coffee sweetened with sugarcane sugar for breakfast; a chocolate bar in the morning; pasta for lunch; a cup of tea in the afternoon and quinoa for dinner!. Currently you can find Fairtrade certified coffee, chocolate and many other products in lots of places; not only in World Shops but also in some supermarkets and even on vending machines.
As a result of this availability and also of NGOs promotion efforts, consumer awareness is improving year to year and Fair Trade labels are ever more widespread recognized (altough there is still a long way to go: when I asked to have Fairtrade coffee at vending machines in our HQ building in Madrid, the Procurement responsible asked me "What's that?").
It is important to say that a product can be considered as a Fair Trade food altough it doesn't come 100% from Fair Trade producers; i.e. a snack bar can bear the FLO logo because it includes certified sugarcane sugar and may be some other component, but not all of them need to be certified.
You may want to have a look at the links below... (I promise to add more Fair Trade food items as time allows!)
Well, there are lots of beverages out there, but let me present here some innovative ones; they are made by Adina; their name comes from the wolof language and means "life". Their most unique products feature acai, pomegranate, lavender, hibiscus, ginger... Some of the also use coffee or tea, of course.
If you prefer sparkling soft drinks, you may already know Ubuntu cola; manufactured in the UK with Fair Trade ingredients from Malawi.
|honey from Zambia|
I bet you like to sweeten your breakfast toasts with some honey. If that is the case, you are lucky: you can have Fair Trade honey! In 2006 FLO developed a standard for its certification and now there are a number of brands available from beekeepers around the world. This one is produced by Zambezi honey, from Zambia.
I like to highlight this one, made in Palestina by Sindyanna. The oil comes from organic growing and is obtained by cold press (the method for the best quality). Besides that, this co-operative is formed by jewish and muslim women living in territories occupied by Israel, which makes it even more outstanding.
A related NGO is Zaytoun, named after the arabic word for olive (which, BTW, is also the origin of the word in spanish, aceituna). They trade olive oil and other products from Sindyanna and other organizations.
Once demoted as "food of the poor" it has come to be recognized as "food of the astronauts" due to its high nutritional value. Quinoa has about 12% of protein, like wheat, but that of quinoa has all the essential aminoacids in it, which means that it can effectively substitute meat as a source of protein.
|quinoa from Bolivia|
Quinoa plant (Chenopodium quinoa) is able to grow in the high andean plateaus (some 3.500 meters above sea level) where barely any other crop can develop. It yields tiny seeds covered with a bitter protective substance, saponin, which naturally prevents birds and insects from eating it. Fine. The nasty part is that we humans also dislike saponin, so it needs to be removed before cooking.
Mainly produced in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, it is a versatile grain which allows to be converted into lots of products: from pasta to chocolate bars or beverages, being "Real" (Royal) one the most appreciated varieties, along with "Blanca" (White). Commercial brands usually remove saponin before putting the product to the market; this is a process normally done near the quinoa plot.
One of the main producers is ANAPQUI (Asociación Nacional de Productores de Quinua), who gathers some 5.000 farmers from the poor high altiplano regions of Bolivia. There are also some other Fairtrade certified makers available.
Contrary to other Fair Trade foods, like coffee, quinoa has never been cultivated for export but for local use or regional markets, so it has a food safety role in poorer areas. If you want to try it but are not sure how to prepare it, have a look at these recipes.
Bear in mind that for the time being, quinoa has not yet the Fairtrade seal, as there are no product standards defined by FLO. It is a Fair Trade food but it does not bear the certification logo.
|Fair Trade rice. Photo by Oscar|
Rice is a staple food for a large part of humankind, specially in Asia. There are more than 100.000 varieties of rice, altough just a few ones make their way to the mass markets: Indica, Japonica, Basmati, Jasmine...
Like in many other cases, Fair Trade has come to alleviate poverty for farmers. More than 90% of world rice is produced in Asia, so it is no surprise that main Fair Trade producers are located in India and Thailand. In those countries, farmers can be cheated by middlemen (usually, owners of the mill facilities where the rice husk is removed) or simply forced to accept their price.
On the other hand, NGOs pay a decent wage, enough to make a living by cultivating this Fair Trade food.
Also, may I remind that Fair Trade rice is free from genetically modified varieties, as they are strictly forbidden on the certification criteria for rice. It is important to note this because rice has a number of genetically modified varieties on the market.
... next time you are in Spain you can try to enjoy a Fair Trade paella
Back to the top of this page about Fair Trade food?