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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fairtrade, Organic or Locally Produced Food?

Fairtrade, Organic or Locally Produced Food?

Should I buy food and products that support workers in Third World by buying Fairtrade labelled products even though these goods normally travel thousands of miles from Africa, South America or South East Asia? What if these foods were produced with the use of pesticides and additives? It makes sense then to look for and to buy Fairtrade, organic food to both help the producers in the Third World and fulfil my lifestyle choice to eat healthy and additive/pesticide free food. Thankfully, many producers are now wising up to this dilemma by increasingly producing organic and Fairtrade labelled products. I am currently using Fairtrade, organic t-bags at home! Now comes another important question, should I buy Fairly Traded organic sugar from Kenya that has travelled thousands of miles, or should I buy apples grown in the UK (ideally from a farmers market) that have only travelled only a few hundred miles which means less carbon dioxide and other nasty emissions from the lorries that you see constantly on the motorways in the UK? Buying UK products not only ensures less food miles but also supports local farmers, communities and economies. Unfortunately, choice is often limited and can be more expensive then food produced in other countries--- Decisions, decisions, it's probably best to abstain from eating and give your choice making brain a rest!

But I can safely say that I make attempts to avoid food or products that have travelled from far away destinations such as Australia even if they are organic! Next time you are in the supermarket or wherever you buy your food from check the labels and you will be surprised by how far your food has travelled. Also look at the amount of unnecessary wrapping such as individually wrapped peppers, mushrooms and kiwi fruit in wrapped boxes. When I buy from the local market I tell them to throw it all into one bag, the customer next to me often has 10 individually wrapped portions of fruit and veg. That's 11 (10 plus one big plastic bag) bags into the landfill site that day. For maximum eco efficiency we need to be using jute or other bags made from recycled materials and putting all the loose food into that.

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