WEEK #1 STUFF // DAY 8, SHARE

13-03

Ask for better labelling of food and products at your local supermarket. Get a few friends, or your whole church/community, together and approach your local suppliers. Ask them to help you make better, ethical and sustainable consumer choices by providing as much info as they can about the products on their shelves.

Buy direct

To debate: Whilst products carrying the official marks of reputable organisations like Fairtrade and the Rainforest Alliance go a long way to help consumers make ethical choices, the inability of producers from developing countries to meet high certification fees, often exclude them from the ‘ethical market’ in the developed world. One solution might be smaller is better: Rather buy your food directly from small-scale farmers – skipping a few of the middle men – and give yourself the advantage of knowing exactly where your food comes from. In the case of a product like coffee beans, seek out small companies with a passion for building a mutually beneficial relationship between producer and distributor… And finally, consumer. This is also known as direct trade. (For example, Bean There Coffee Company in South Africa and Ethical Addictions in the UK.)

Further reading:

A great book to pick up is Unfair Trade by Conor Woodman – informative and very entertaining… He is quite the fearless adventurer.

Here is an interesting article by The Guardian (UK): Food labelling confuses ethical shoppers, says survey.

In a report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), entitled A review of ethical standards and labels: Is there a gap in the market for a new ‘Good for Development’ label?, the issue is further unpacked. Download the full report in PDF format here.

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2 thoughts on “WEEK #1 STUFF // DAY 8, SHARE”

  1. Like most things there isn’t one easy answer. Labeling is great though, and should be there as a way to determine more information about products where the producer or processes are otherwise inscrutable for whatever reason. If something is bets with palm oil, well I would like a third party to be able to verify that it is ethical palm oil, since what I can do myself is limited. At the same time industrial organics are not as good for developing local economies, food security and save and preserve (Genesis 2) creation as small local mixed farms. They lack the eyes per acre, they simplify to handle the challenges of increasing output instead of increase complexity to enhance the returns. Knowing your local producers is your best bet. The certification costs are hard for small/new farmers even in affluent nations (as the cost of inputs, like land and labour, is very high and consumers are not used to paying the whole cost). I know for my own farm we do grow organically (for a host of good reasons), but are not certified, the extra cost and time (for paper work etc) is a barrier. Eventually we may need to for increased market access, but even the reliable certifications will allow certain amounts of chemicals, a certain level of round-up, and I doubt the customers expect that.

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