It’s Fair Trade month, as I blogged about here. But you know what? Honestly, sometimes I wish the whole fair trade issue would go away. I know that is completely selfish, but here is why.
It complicates my sometimes already complicated shopping criteria
While I am juggling avoiding a lot of supermarket food, trying to fit in pesticide-free, nutrient dense foods, attempting to get plenty of veggies into my children, I also have to throw into the mix having to buy fair trade? On a budget? Suddenly my shopping list has yet another complication to it. Those two-dozen chocolate cupcakes I was planning on making for a birthday party just got a whole lost more expensive if I have to buy Fair Trade cocoa powder.
It forces me to think about my shopping impact yet again
I am already aware of the fact that my shopping choices are having a small, yet tangible effect. I am either supporting big time companies, or small companies. I am either supporting farmers who use organic practices, or those who don’t. The whole fair trade movement (based on the idea that we shouldn’t be buying imported foods that were harvested and produced at the cost of low wages for farmers, slave trade, and children working the farms) forces me to add another dimension into the mix. It forces me to acknowledge that my choices affect more than just my family. Sometimes that is not easy to face.
At times, the issue is confusing
I know some about the issues with cocoa farming and why it’s important to buy that Fair Trade, but when in the vanilla extract section recently I suddenly noticed that there is gmo-free vanilla, organic vanilla, fair trade Vanilla, and Organic fair trade Vanilla. Was vanilla also just as important as cocoa to buy fair trade? Could I afford vanilla if I bought the more expensive fair trade organic version? Should I just go with the slightly cheaper just fair trade version, but not organic? How important was the vanilla to be organic, really? See point one.
It forces me to become creative…and that’s work
Since I switched to buying certain foods only fair trade, such as cocoa, I am finding that I can’t afford to buy the same quantity. And so I have to be more creative. If I use less chocolate, I can buy fair trade and organic, for example. But yes, it did take a little work to figure out how to make that work in our budget.
But it is worth it, and here is why
It’s worth it because people are important and they are worthy of respect. My love of chocolate, coffee and tea (and other ingredients, like vanilla) shouldn’t come at the expensive of workers around the world getting treated poorly, being paid unsustainable wages, being put into slavery, or child labor. My words of promoting respect of other humans should be followed by action, and while our purchases in our shiny clean stores seems worlds away from the despair of those who labored for that item to be on the shelf, our shopping decisions sometimes come at a personal cost of others. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and so I try to buy fair trade whenever I can.
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