When you’re rushing around, guzzling cups of coffee just for the caffeine hit, or nibbling on a chocolate bar as you check your emails at your desk, it can be easy to forget about where all these treats we take for granted come from. But if Fairtrade Fortnight is going to teach us anything, then it’s that we need to stop and take a second to think about it.
A second is all it takes to walk those extra 10 steps to the next coffee shop that’s actually supporting ethical and sustainable farming. A second is all it takes to pick up that bag of sugar produced by a company that supports it’s workers and the community. A second is all it takes. It’s not hard. But, just in case you were wondering how easy it is to help put a stop to exploitation and make a difference, here are five ways to change your food and drink choices for the better:
1) Consider your cup
Grabbing a fairtrade cup of joe is super easy. A number of high street coffee shops support the initiative, including – yep, you got it – Greggs. Greggs have been a fairtrade partner for over 10 years. Since signing up to the fairtrade initiative, over £1 million from Greggs fairtrade coffee sales have gone on to help their farmers invest in their farms and communities (pretty good, huh?).
For the full list of places you can buy fairtrade coffee head here.
We love chocolate. In fact, it’s estimated that Britain eats an average of 660,900 tonnes of chocolate a year. But our love affair with the stuff has its downsides. Despite being a tough crop to grow, the price of cocoa beans is shocking low. This contrast between produce yields and production costs often leaves cocoa farmers struggling to get by. Fairtrade chocolate ensures a guaranteed minimum price – meaning that not only do cocoa farmers get a decent price for their cocoa, but they also have enough left over from the sale of their produce to reinvest in their future.
Many chocolate companies such as Cadburys and Green & Blacks support the initiative, but Divine chocolate is the only mainstream chocolate producer 44% owned by the famers who supply the cocoa. Their 70% dark chocolate bar (pictured above) is helping empower female cocoa farmers (who make up a third of the cocoa work force) by providing intensive adult literacy and numeracy classes. With these skills, farmers are able to earn money outside of the cocoa season.
Click here to find out what other chocolate companies support fairtrade.
3) Switch your sugar
Sugar is the lastest food to be demonised in the health news. While it’s certainly true that we all need to cut down on the amount we consume, it’s also equally as important to increase our efforts to buy fairtrade. Thanks to the fairtrade premium on sugar, more than £5million has been given back to sugar cane smallholders to invest in education, sanitation and healthy care already. If we continue to buy fairtrade sugar, that figure will only increase.
As a nation we drink an estimated 62 billion cups per year. However, our love of tea has driven the price of tea leaves down so low that most tea farmers barely make enough from their crop to feed their family, never mind to build in a better life for themselves. Clipper, Sainsburys, M&S, Tescos, and Waitrose (among many others) all support the fairtrade tea trade. Next time ‘disaster’ strikes and you find yourself without any tea bags, make sure that the next box of tea you pick up is fairtrade – your cuppa will taste all the better for it, trust.
5) Be wary of your wine
‘New world’ wine producers in South Africa and South America face extremely adverse social and political situations. The premium on fairtrade wine helps ensure greater economic freedom and stability for these workers and their communities.
Not all wine is fairtrade, but there are more than 50 quality manufactures and producers out there who support the initiative. Most of the time this wine isn’t any more expensive than any other bottle either – in fact, you can get a bottle of Merlot or Chenin Blanc from Waitrose for less than £6. To make sure it’s the real deal just look out for the Fairtrade Foundation mark on the bottle.