Every year during Fairtrade Fortnight, shoppers are encouraged to remember exactly where their food comes from.
No, not the supermarket. But Caribbean plantations, Kenyan farms and paddy fields in Thailand. Places where food producers can’t assume they’ll be paid a decent, living wage by corporate suppliers.
Such commercial exploitation is the reason the Fairtrade Foundation was set up a decade ago: to guarantee farmers would be paid at least the global market value for their goods, plus a Fairtrade premium that could be spent on business development.
So far, some 408 companies in the UK have signed up to a Fairtrade agreement, and more than 4,500 products bear the Fairtrade symbol.
But while the demand for fairly traded products has increased dramatically since the logo first appeared in 2002, in these times of austerity Fairtrade Fortnight is keen to highlight budget-friendly ways shoppers can support the cause.
Consumers are being encouraged to take small steps and swap ethical brands for their usual choices.
‘Taking a step for fair trade this Fairtrade Fortnight is a really fun and effective way to bring about positive change to the lives of the farmers who produce the goods that end up on our shop shelves,’ says Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation.
‘I have met sugar farmers in Malawi who, with the Fairtrade premium, have been able to provide safe, clean water for communities, buy iron roofing for houses, pay children’s school fees and provide electricity to villages. In Belize, sugar farmers have funded education programmes and in Paraguay the wider community now has improved health services.’
Sue James from Portsmouth Fairtrade Forum adds: ‘We need more people to join us in making the small steps towards a fairer world. In 2012, we want to see more individuals and businesses in the Portsmouth area buying and selling Fairtrade products.
‘The more people who take a step for Fairtrade, the more farmers and workers will be able to improve their lives through the better terms of trade it offers. What will your step be?’
Sue says that a step could be as easy as choosing to buy a Fairtrade coffee on the way to work, or making sure a weekly shopping basket contains one or two more Fairtrade products like Fairtrade tea or bananas, or encouraging friends and family to switch to Fairtrade.
Try this delicious recipe using Fairtrade ingredients.
Sri Lankan curry is quick and delicious
50g sun-dried pineapple
2tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 stems of lemon grass, very finely chopped
½tsp crushed chilli flakes
1tsp chilli powder
½tsp mustard seeds, crushed
500g organic prawns
200ml tinned coconut milk
½tsp fennel seeds
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
Soak the sun-dried pineapple in enough water to cover it for 10 minutes and then drain.
Fry the onion in the oil with bay leaves and lemon grass. Add the chilli flakes, chilli powder, paprika, mustard seeds, turmeric, salt, soaked pineapple and prawns. Cook for five minutes.
Pour in the coconut milk. Sprinkle with the fennel seeds and simmer for five minutes. Before serving, add lime juice to taste and garnish with red chilli and coriander.
Serve with rice.