Most of us go grocery shopping at least once a week, and usually, as we wander through the aisles, we focus on nutrition labels and the ingredients of the products we pick up. Every once in a while, I am lucky to go to the store all by myself (yep, when you have kids even a trip to the grocery store alone seems like a mini- vacation). That’s when I do most of my research. I take my time reading labels and looking for new products to try. I add new recipes to enhance my list of basic meals to get us through our many busy weeks!
But how often do we stop to think about how those products arrived on the shelves of our grocery stores? How many people did it take to get the products there? How far did they have to travel? For example, how many lives were impacted during the production of that single jar of honey or fresh coffee you can’t live without?
Injustice is an unfortunate certainty of our times. The age of technology and industrialization has left this generation often disconnected from the behind- the- scenes realities of food production. Most of us know that honey comes from bees — and yes, not all know this basic fact — but only a few know how honey is harvested. Few know where the bees collect their honey, or how many people it takes to bottle it. In short, not many comprehend how the honey makes it from the hives into the neatly packaged bottles on grocery store shelves.
All people involved in the process are crucial in making sure we have a quality product to enjoy at our convenience, and for that, we are so very thankful. Likewise, we assume those involved in production are all being treated fairly and with ultimate equanimity.
I’m sorry to reveal that this simply isn’t always true. Often, growers, small-scale farmers, international workers, and members of isolated communities endure unfair work conditions so that we can benefit from the goods they produce.
And so, because of this, Fair Trade organizations have become a necessity. Fair Trade organizations tell us that the word “fair” can mean many things to many people. Yes, it is about more than just paying a fair wage. It means that trading partnerships are based on reciprocal benefits and mutual respect; prices paid to producers reflect the work they do; workers have the right to organize; national health, safety, and wage laws are enforced, and products are environmentally sustainable and conserve natural resources. (Fair Trade Resource Website)
The study of nutrition has taught me so much about the human body, and it has also highlighted my personal sense of our collective connection to this Earth. We have a profound social responsibility to treat this Earth — and each other– with respect and kindness; therefore, when I have the choice of purchasing a product that bears the Fair Trade seal, I consider this, a win-win situation. I know I’m getting the best product, and I can feel good about it!
The next time you go grocery shopping, look for the Fair Trade seal: teach your kids about it, and feel good about giving importance to a practice that will ensure a better tomorrow, starting today.
May 10th was World Fair Trade Day, with worldwide events taking place during a full week of awareness celebration. To learn more about Fair Trade, visit the website: http://www.ftrn.org/ .
Once Again Nut Butters is the nut butter that “spreads integrity,” and is a major sponsor of WFTD this year!
… be good, do good, feel good!
Carolina Jantac, MS, RD, LDN
Want to help the cause? You can be involved and or donate here: http://store.fairtraderesourcenetwork.org/collections/donate