If you're thinking of giving up stuff like chocolate or wine or coffee for Lent... maybe consider how little that does to help poor producers around the world who rely on our purchases. Why not instead take up the challenge to only buy Fairtrade chocolate, coffee, tea, wine, sugar, pasta, rice, dried fruit, breakfast cereal, etc, etc during Lent (and after).
It can be just as much an aid to reflection and commitment as you have to find these and deny yourself some other alternatives. It can cost you a little more in some cases.
But it will help the thousands of people living in very poor circumstances who rely on these products for whom giving up a luxury would be a luxury in itself.
Keep your eye out for the official Fairtrade logo. There’s a guarantee there that rigorous checks have been made on all the stages of production and purchase through to manufacture to ensure the supplier and workers have had a fair price and have had some extra community benefit. It’s not just about making the growers better off. It’s also about bringing benefits in to their wider communities with clinics, water supplies, schooling, training and more. Other schemes may be badged ethical or environmental but the same guarantees of benefits to the producing community may well not be in place.
People often ask where they can buy Fairtrade products. I always suggest starting with the local shops and supermarkets. Look for the logo on coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate to start with. Then look around at the fruit, especially bananas and then the wine. If you like a good wine, include Fairtrade in your selection. You can find the Fairtrade logo on loads of products these days.
The more we buy Fairtrade badged products from supermarkets, the more they will stock them and the more people will try them.
I find lots of Fairtrade choice even in Morrisons which is on my door step. To get a better choice I’ll walk up to the Coop. For some things like Fairtrade rice, pasta, olive oil, soap, cleaning products, jams, honey, breakfast cereal, special sugars, dried fruit and so on you may well have to visit your church Fairtrade stall or order from Traidcraft (search online). If you don’t have a church Fairtrade stall, why not set one up. Traidcraft will help (please note you can’t sell wine without a licence).
Another action that really helps is to get your church and workplace to adopt a Fairtrade policy whereby they agree to only serve Fairtrade tea & coffee. There are so many good Fairtrade teas and coffees out there to try. These are also available in catering packs from the cash and carry. Really, there’s no excuse to refuse to switch to Fairtrade and every good reason to choose to do so if we really believe that we are here to be good news to the poor.