Food for thought

November 1, 2017

Food for thought

How much do you think about your food? And I don’t mean counting calories or wondering what you’re going to eat for your next meal, I’m talking about the production of your food and the journey it has taken from paddock to plate.

I recently received a phone call from a company wanting to sign me up to receive farm fresh fruit and veggies on a weekly basis. Sounds great, I thought. However I had one question – is it organic? And in that moment, I realised I’d become one of ‘those’ people.

The transformation has been gradual, starting with reading books by celebrity chefs and nutritionists who tout the benefits of eating whole, real food, and I never realised how important the quality of my groceries was to me, until the question passed my lips.

Just as the health movement gains momentum, so too does the quest for more transparency in how our food is grown and how the producers fare. Montville Coffee, which is Queensland’s first Fairtrade and organic certified coffee, recently hosted representatives from Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, as well as growers of coffee, cocoa, coconut​, vanilla and sugar, who spoke about the importance of Fairtrade and caring for the environment, and how ​it ha​s​ changed communities in Papua New Guinea, ​Samoa, ​Tonga and Timor Leste.

What is Fairtrade? It is a global system with the aim of alleviating poverty through fair access to markets and trade​.​

Coffee cherry picking in Papua New Guinea

“In the world today, 70 per cent of our food is actually grown by some of the poorest people in the ​developing world, and often ​these communities ​​don’t have enough resources to build schools or hospitals,” Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand CEO Molly Harriss Olson says.

“Fairtrade started ​nearly 30 years ago, after a charity was delivering wells in Mexico to some coffee cooperatives and the farmers said, ‘We really appreciate these wells, but if you just paid a fair price for our coffee, we could​ buy the well ourselves,’ and that was when the development community realised that changing the rules of the game to enable people to have access to fair markets​ was the most effective way to stop poverty.”

Every year, over $200 million is generated in Fairtrade Premium​​ which goes directly to the 1.65 million ​Fairtrade ​certified farmers in developing countries.

Sikilan Village in Papua New Guinea

​When a grower becomes certified Fairtrade, they not only have opportunities to connect with international brands, but Fairtrade audits the transactions to ensure the businesses are paying the appropriate minimum ​price and premiums.

And when you see the Fairtrade logo on a product, which equates to ​a fraction of the cost of that product, one third goes to the global organisation to continue to maintain and improve standards, another third goes back to ​support the producer​s,​ and one third is spent in the market to raise awareness.

So paying that little bit extra for certified Fairtrade and organic products not only benefits some of the poorest communities in building schools,​ hospitals, having​ clean water, roads and other essentials we take for granted, it enables us, as consumers to make better purchasing decisions. Sounds like a win-win to me.

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