Hi dear readers!
So today’s post is one on the “i’m sending you to a link to read an article” post. Meaning, there’s not much substantial here, but that’s to save you time so you can read all the substantial stuff HERE.
Of late, coffee has been the big to-do in the fair trade commodities world. But pressingly, bananas are coming to the forefront. And they should! They are the second biggest commodity produce crop.
The gist of the article is to show you what is going on in agriculture specifically with bananas in St. Vincent (ie Free trade vs Fair trade, the importance of the banana trade on St. Vincent, the liberalization of (banana) trade, and how fair trade is affecting (banana) trade). But I encourage you to read the article/reasearch not only for St. Vincent but with the thought that the idea carries over into other crops, products and areas of the world. Fair Trade is important to farmers and producers because it brings some freedom to the world’s poor. It empowers them. For example, Anna Torgerson says, “Of the farmers I spoke with, several stressed that the fair trade social premium goes toward helping their children and future generations.”
Although fair trade is most commonly associated with minimum prices, the system also prioritizes the subsistence of small-scale producer communities. That is what working for the poor should look like. We buy, trade, and sell things with the intent of getting a fair deal without giving someone else a bad deal. So read on, and keep an open mind.
And, in case you were wondering what inspired today’s post – it was me cutting down banana’s from the banana tree! Who knew that bunch would be over 20lbs! It’s hard work taking care of all those bananas! But now…. i get to eat them.
Top them it with some warm fruit or maple syrup (or both) and remember, you can get Fair Trade bananas, coconut oil, and even some of the spices!
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1 cup coconut milk (or almond milk if you prefer)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 loaf bread
- Coconut oil (optional)
1. Place all ingredients, well except for the bread, into a food processor or blender. Blend well.
2. Pour the batter into shallow bowl and let chill in the refrigerator.
3. Cut the bread into thick slices.
4. Heat a pan or griddle over a medium-high heat and brush it with the coconut oil. If you don’t have coconut oil you can use any basic cooking oil. Please don’t use olive oil as it will give the toast a funky taste.
5. Individually dip each bread slice into the batter so that the bread is fully coated.
6. Place the bread slices onto the griddle and cook until golden brown on each side. Top as desired and enjoy!
You you may notice that the title of this post is a little odd. The ideas don’t seem to go hand in hand. BUT, they do in some ways. The post is prompted by a lively comment sent to our site which i have purposely not published due to the language. But, it goes something like this: “Forget fair trade. Free Trade is the way to go.”
Now I could be wrong, but I understand them to mean something in the line of, ” Free trade is what makes the world go round. It’s what keeps economies running. It’s what keeps people employed. Its what gets us so many products – so cheaply.”
There’s a lot of truth in that. Free trade is a standard, and it currently fuels much of the products we buy. Free trade, as explained by wikipedia, “is a policy by which a government does not discriminate against imports or interfere with exports by applying tariffs (to imports) or subsidies (to exports). ” This in essence allows countries to compete in markets because their labor or resources are cheaper than in other countries. It is supposed to be a mutually beneficial policy, where both countries benefit from selling and then from buying at better prices.
It makes sense, this mutually beneficial relationship. But what if the cost was so that mutually-beneficial labor looked like this:
What would you do?
My guess is that you’d want to help these people. That you might even reach into your pocket and give them money or buy them food. You might try to find them another job or adopt them. But you most likely wouldn’t knowingly buy that cheap thing without thinking of him or her. AND I’d also guess that if the price of that thing raised $1 and you knew it was helping that person, you would still reach for that product even though it may now cost $.80 more than the other ‘cheapo” thing.
Am I right?
The thing is that free trade and fair trade work together in a sense. It is because to a large extent people CHOOSE FREELY how to spend their money that the business economic choices are often made. As long as know one cares about factory abuse because it makes products cheaper, there’s a good shot that abuse will keep happening. Free trade at it’s worst says “we make this as economically as possible, regardless of the human/social/sustainability costs.” Fair trade at its worst says “we make this product at a sustainable price, and we never put money over people.”
On the wholesaler end, I can say that sometimes we can’t make the product we want because of the price it will have to retail for. That’s when we improvise. We may change a design, change a part, or create a new product. Because the people come first.
So when you think of free trade vs fair trade, recognize that not all free trade is bad, and it’s not all good. Fair trade combines this idea of allowing markets to compete with assurance of ‘mutual gain’. It is your CHOICE that shifts how things are made. If we don’t put up with bad labor practices and all the business goes to companies who treat people well, you can bet that some things will start to change.
And, since I can’t leave you with such sad pictures, here’s a precious one from China Philanthropy.
And a few other resources:
Hi Fair Trade friends,
I realize that I am a little slow on the draw – again, but I’m hoping that i’m giving you just enough time to make yours a fair trade Easter.
Last year, I posted about Cadbury eggs (who is owned by Hershey) and the sad truth that they won’t’ participate in the anti-child labor agreement. Unfortunately, the case has not changed and so you can still join the campaign to urge Cadbury & Hershey to sell fair trade chocolate.
I did do a brief internet search to bring you some lovely Easter items, but the most abundant place for Easter things was on Serrv’s website. But I must admit, that Lucuma.com has some great finger puppets and hair accessories for Easter baskets. And, for a more local approach, try out Sweet Earth Chocolates who uses fair trade chocolate for their sweet bunnies and eggs.
And although I was racking my brain for other ideas, I kept coming back to Cadbury eggs. THEN, I remembered something – BAKING. And so, my friends, I present you with an Easter cupcake.
Apricot Lemon Cupcakes from Earthbalance.com
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
1 1/4 cup(s) of organic all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of non-aluminum baking powder
1/4 tsp. of sea salt
1 cup(s) of organic fair-trade sugar
1 cup(s) of Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, softened (this is a butter substitute)
4 ounce(s) of unsweetened organic apple sauce
4 ounce(s) of dairy-free lemon yogurt
4 tsp. of grated lemon zest
9 tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. of lemon extract
1 cup(s) of dried apricots, chopped
1.Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2. To make the cupcakes, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the refined sugar, 1/2 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, apple sauce, yogurt, 2 tsp grated lemon zest, 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon extract.
4. Combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on low-medium speed
5.Add in the apricots and stir by hand until they are evenly distributed in the batter.
6. Pour the batter into a cupcake tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly.
7. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before topping them with frosting.
8. To make the frosting, combine the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tsp grated lemon zest, 6 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread in a large bowl and mix on low-medium speed for 1 minute. Try a bite and if you want the frosting to be even more sour, add in more lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time.
Decorate your cupcakes and eat!
few more inspirational ideas:
I just received an email from Cultural Survival and thought it would be interesting to share with you all. One of the things I hear from friends and family over and over is: “I just don’t see how what I buy makes a difference.”
There’s some truth in that.
There’s also a lot of lie in that.
As somebody wise (though i’m not sure who) once said, “I may not be able to help everyone, but I can help just one.” And that, friends, is the same truth that prevails when it comes to what we buy. We can’t do everything. We can’t help everybody. But if every person shopped a little more consciously, imagine all the change we could bring about.
Ok, back to Ethiopia. The article makes note of the Anuak people who are being forced off of their land for agriculture. And, if this doesn’t sound familiar, I encourage you to think about the past posts on food, the GMO movement, and such. It sounds like this could have some serious, serious implications not just for these indigenous peoples but for the country. And those implications don’t sound good to me.
In the words of the email: “Ethiopian soldiers are forcibly removing Anuak and other Indigenous minorities from their homelands in the Gambella region, relocating them in state-built villages, and leasing their farmlands to foreign investors. Forests, wetlands, river valleys, and grazing lands are being bulldozed to plant agrofuels and food crops, mostly for export. This land grabbing is destroying ecosystems and devastating Gambella’s Indigenous communities.
“[The] government brought the Anuak people here to die. They brought us no food, they gave away our land to the foreigners so we can’t even move back.” — Anuak elder forcibly moved to a state village (from the Human Rights Watch report, “Waiting Here for Death.”) “
So, I encourage you to check out this video to learn a little more. The article mentions ways to get involved. One of the best things you can do is share and use what you know.
Watch about Ethiopia’s Land Rush.
Pinterest. Have you heard of it? Well, I just became a fan… not the stalker-i-can’t-get-enough-of-this fan like I keep hearing about, but a fan nonetheless. Don’t tell, but the deep secret mission of mine is to pin beautiful fairly-traded handmade things. Then, the world will see – or at least a few people who normally wouldn’t – and maybe come to understand the value of fair trade. Now personally, I couldn’t figure out how to just make an account for this blog, BUT I did manage to create a board called “Fair Trade & Sustainability” on my personal pinterest account. Follow my account “Liz McTeer” – (although, honestly I’m not yet quite sure how to follow someone…). Doing a quick search on pinterest.com I see a small selection of fair trade goods there (mainly from the UK).
So, i have a challenge for you this week. If you don’t have a pinterest account, get one. And then when/if your pinterest account is ready, find one beautiful fairly-traded gift, food, or decor, and pin it! And when you have to say something about the product, make sure you tell your soon-to-be-viewers that it’s fair trade. Maybe do a litle promotional talk on there too… if you’re feeling like an activist.
Find a beautiful Fair trade something. Pin it! Re-peat! Or at least follow me…
Hi Fair Trade Helps friends! Liz here again. Finally – we are done with Christmas, New years, the winter trade shows, Valentine’s day – and so i am back! Maybe not quite if full swing yet, but back nonetheless. In fact, this post is prompted by the airport trip on my way home from NYC. You see, I saw this amazing looking ad. It was beautiful. It had native peoples in fields. It read “Improving agriculture, improving lives.” I thought “how wonderful” and looked for the website to learn more, http://www.improveagriculture.com. Cool. BUT THEN, in the far left corner of my eye, I saw who was running the show – Montsanto Corp.
Now for those of you who don’t know, I have a fierce dislike toward this company. Not because they are Montsanto so much as they are the biggest player in the food engineering hunger games. I would like to hope that they have no idea that what they are doing to farming is unsustainable and wreaking havok (article here as the most recent example) around the world, but I will willingly admit that they just might be money-hungry. In any case, Montsanto is a multinational agricultural biotech company responsible for a number of strong pesticides, bovine growth hormone, and about 90% of the genetically altered seeds sold in the US. Montsanto strongly advocates that the use of their GE seeds and pesticides are what will help poor farmers across the world to flourish.
But I have heard story after story that this is not the case. Here are a few cases i have heard: – Poor farmers burning GMO seed in protest. GMOs banned in many countries for being deemed unsafe. Native crops being wiped out. Farmers reducing variety of crops, making droughts, floods, and pests more dangerous (as they can wipe out everying instead of maybe just a few crops). Pesticide poisening. Farmer debt because they must buy seed every year. Farmer suicides. Food that is not as nutritious.
There are a number of good documentaries and articles on the GMO scene, like King Corn, the GMO Trilogy, Food Matters, The Future of Food, Food Inc to name a few. The Organic Consumers Association tracks all kinds of articles.
Granted people are still for it. But here, we support the farmers. the workers. the indigenous peoples. the environment. Therefore, we do not support GE foods. I encourage you to learn learn more and do the same.
On a long shot, I emailed the founder of the “Institute for Responsible Technology” who speaks abroad about GMO seeds to governments, lay people, & farmers. I’m hoping they’ll have a chance to provide us more insight specifically on how GMO crops are affecting 3rd world countries. Keep your fingers crossed.
And, final thought… remember, just like with all of your dollars… YOUR DOLLAR COUNTS! SO DOES YOUR VOICE! Learn more and ask questions, at gift stores, at grocers, wherever. Europe just recently had a victory against GMOs because consumers cared. Read the article here.
More on GMOs here.Cheers!
Really, guys.. you dont’ have to go nuts for the holidays. Sure, you can….black friday did start on Thanksgiving day. There are BILLIONS of dollars being spent. People go in debt. People stress. There’s too much to do. Too many events to go to. BUT, you dont’ have too. I’m just sayin’. Christmas is about so many other things; these for example –
a) Christmas all started with the birth of baby Jesus. And the wise men brought HIM gifts.
b) We celebrate this joyous occasion by exchanging gifts.
c) We celebrate by gathering together with our friends and families, creating traditions and sharing our lives.
So let’s not forget! It is a celebration! Let’s not create traditions and culture promoting materialism. How can we rethink Christmas?
Here’s an idea: A friend was recently telling me their Christmas present philosphy for their kids. Each got only three gifts (because 3 were good enough for Jesus). The first gift was something their child wanted. The second gift was something their child needed. The third gift was something that the parent wanted their child to have.
Do you see the impact? Just think for a minute with me about fair trade, about what it teaches. What if each gift you gave had meaning because it wasn’t tossed in a heap with all the others. What if every dollar you spent taught your friends and family something good and helped somebody in the process? That would be a pretty great Christmas I think. Don’t you?
BUT if you’re bent on going nuts (fair trade style of course), you can at least munch on these fair trade ones from SERRV.
Until next time…. ~ Liz
Oh, and if you want a story to go along with Jesus’ birthday, I’d recommend this one: The King’s Christmas List