This blog follows on from my article in the latest CAFOD Birmingham newsletter (on pages 4 and 5). The campaign continues till next Easter which gives us the opportunity to work for even greater success. This second phase of the campaign asks us to think about our own lifestyles and how we can contribute to a fairer food system by our everyday actions.
During “phase one” of the campaign I have been following the 5Fs: Flesh Free Frugal Fairtrade Fridays. In other words: Flesh Free – no meat or fish; Frugal – don’t eat much; Fairtrade – only consume fairly traded items; Fridays – do it on a Friday.
How does this work in practice? Well flesh free and frugal are self-explanatory but only consuming fairly traded (FT) items takes a bit more thought. I only allowed myself a few exceptions; water, milk and seasoning (although you can get some FT herbs and spices). I had a stock of FT staples from which a (limited) variety of meals could be made. These were, rice, pasta, beans (Ethical Superstore sells a range of FT tinned beans and Sainsbury’s sells FT fresh green beans), rice cakes, cereal bars (e.g. Traidcraft Geobars), muesli, lentils, bananas, nuts and dried fruit.
Meals included: rice salad (cold boiled rice with dried fruit and nuts); curried beans with rice; Lentil curry, spicy (garlic, pepper and/or chili powder) rice mixed with one or more of the other staples and rice cakes with peanut butter. It helped that I like curry! Pasta was a bit of a challenge as I couldn’t find any fairly traded pasta sauce or an alternative. My attempt to make one from olive oil (Zaytoun) and a mixture of nuts was not a great success.
For phase two of the campaign I will continue this but, in response to the ideas in the Fair Food Guide, extend it to two days a week and widen the scope so that non-fairly traded items can be used provided they are organic and either local or purchased from an ethical source (e.g. Ethical Superstore). I will also use leftovers which would genuinely be thrown away otherwise. (Order copies of the Fair Food guide by calling 020 7095 5692 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
How does all this help? Purchasing less food reduces waste, buying fairly traded means a better deal for the producers, buying organic has environmental benefits, as does buying local. All of this sends a message to big businesses in the food industry. They monitor food buying trends and if fairly traded and organic goods are selling better they will know there is a growing number of shoppers for whom ethics is important. The environmental benefits also help with the struggle against climate change – something that is already seriously affecting many farmers in developing countries.
Buying fairly traded can be more expensive but buying less overall can balance this.
Finally you can celebrate the success of the campaign so far (and toast the success to come) with a glass of fairly traded wine. Cheers!