The Story Behind Organic Fair Trade Food
Buying organic fair trade food is trendy. On the other hand, you should ask yourself: “isn’t it a must do?” Let’s face it right from the start. There are even more than 8 reasons why you should buy organic fair trade food. We simply highlight the most important topics in this post. Finally, we get to the heart of the big picture. If you care about your health and our environment, then you should buy organic fair trade food only. Let us guide you through the most important questions and facts. Step by step or watch the video at the end of this article to find out more.
1. The Difference Between Organic and Fair Trade
To understand the differences between organic and fair trade products, we first have a look at their definitions.
Definition of Organic Food: Organic food is produced by methods and standards of organic farming. It relies on fertilizers of organic origin such as compost manure, green manure, and bone meal. Organic farming features practices that strive to cycle resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Real organic food is free of non-organic pesticides and fertilizers. Furthermore, organic foods are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents or synthetic food additives.
Definition of Fair Trade: Fair Trade products are traded in partnership, in light of discourse, straightforwardness, and regard, that looks for more noteworthy value in global exchange. It adds to practical improvement by offering better exchanging conditions to, and anchoring the privileges of, underestimated makers and specialists, particularly in third world countries.
2. Advantages Of Buying Organic Food
Pros of Organic Food: Your food is 100% healthy, has a longer shelf life, does not change during cooking, tastes more intense and you ensure we have a sustainable and clean environment. Also good to know, there are no cons against organic food. Some people may say, “the price is higher”, which is not always the case. We’ll cover that point later.
Much more important is to realize the cons of non-organic products, especially when it comes to food. To make your food look as good as possible, the industry uses pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. These are usually used in the form of chemical toxins against weeds, insects and fungal diseases. In addition, the production yield is massively increased by the use of these toxins.
The problem: Chemical toxins are difficult (if not impossible) to control. Harmful side effects on humans and the environment are very hard to investigate. Long-term effects are often only noticed after decades. The glyphosate controversy is one example. The mass death of bees is just another.
The Facts: The chemical industry, i.e. the manufacturers of these products, also control seed breeding. 3 overpowering companies control 60% of the global production. The three major global players are:
- Chem-China Syngenta
The Big Lie: As recently stated by Monsanto: “By 2050 the world will have 10 billion people, and the demand for food will double.”; in other words: the production must grow. This is a sham!
The Truth: The only important thing is to make more profit. If you control seeds, then you control the whole industry. To earn more money you breed new seed types that do not grow without the massive use of your own chemicals. Making “seeds more resistant” only means, use more chemicals. The only thing we need is biodiversity. As we all know: Mother Nature keeps herself in balance if we keep our biodiversity. By increasing the “industrial food production” they only support the extinction of small farmers. As you can read below, these farmers really feed the world and not the big ones.
“Do you really want to feed yourself and your family, your children, with genetically modified food? With food that may have been soaked with unexplored chemicals? Food that may be carcinogenic or cause malformations?”
The Solution: Buy 100% organic food from local farmers only.
3. Advantages Of Buying Fair Trade Products
Pros of Fair Trade: You act ethically. You ensure, that farmers and fishermen get a better income. You as a consumer enable them to have sustainable, healthy jobs. You are buying food from smaller companies who usually do organic farming as well. And finally, there are no cons against fair trading, not even a higher price.
A study published by OXFAM on modern slavery in the food industry makes it clear. Millions of farmers and fishermen are forced to suffer. Working long hours in inhumane conditions. This injustice falls even more on women.
Behind our food, there are people who grow, catch, process and distribute it. The global food industry is worth trillions of dollars. Making money. That’s what it’s all about. The food industry is well known for lowest paid and least secure jobs. Discriminating conditions all over.
“Human suffering should never be an ingredient in the food we eat.”
The problem: The International Labor Organization (ILO) has been observing and criticizing slavery in the food industry for years. Cheap food inspires the exploitation of workers. One example is the Thai fishing industry. Or the sad conditions on Tomato Farms. Just another example is Europe’s dirty little secrete of modern slavery in Spain.
The Facts: The vast majority of the world’s farms are small-scale and family farms. But:
- Only 1% of farms in the world are larger than 50 hectares;
- and they control 65% of the world’s agricultural land
The Big Lie: “We need large farms to produce enough to feed us all.” That’s a simple lie! They cannot feed us in a healthy way. Furthermore, large farms try to control prices and raise them.
The Truth: Only small-scale family farms can feed us properly!
The Solution: Buy directly from your local farmer next door or ask your grocery store for local products.
4. Should I Buy Fairtrade Labeled Products?
Buying Fairtrade does not automatically mean you do something good. Consumers are increasingly looking to buy labeled food products such as Max Havelaar. It should guarantee a good payment for the producers. By talking to farmers in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, we had to face an untold issue. The Fairtrade label guarantees its cooperative a minimum price and a premium. “But the purchase of the fruit is uncertain for us,” says Issouf Coulibaly, a farmer in the village of Taga.
Getting the Fairtrade label is a step forward. But there is still no regular income for these farmers.
The Facts: Issuers of Fairtrade labels do monitor the processes and issues it, but they do not buy anything from the farmer himself.
The Big Lie: “The merger and consolidation of large companies is a must and we cannot stop that.” That’s not true at all! It only makes farmers dependent and drives up prices. You as a consumer have the option. Just think before you buy.
The Truth: Supermarket chains are not loyal to Fairtrade farmers. Even at Fairtrade, they focus on maximizing their own profits. Some of them change producers every year. Customers do not know where the product is coming. For the farmers, this means, that they cannot plan just because of the fair trade label. The normal trade is as unpredictable as the weather.
The Solution: If you cannot or don’t want to buy local food, then at least buy from fair traders. The farmers in Taga have only improved since the Swiss company Gebana started to buy their product.
“We are a real partner and buy from the same farmers’ cooperatives for years,”
says Adrian Wiedmer, head of Gebana Switzerland. They even provide an online store where you can directly buy fairtrade products from small farms around the globe.
5. Is It Save To Buy Processed Food?
NO! Not at all. Buying and eating processed food is junk. We have to learn again to take time. Shop consciously and cook for yourself. Cooking a proper meal doesn’t mean it takes a lot of time. You can cook a simple, fresh and healthy meal within 5 or 10 minutes. You can find tons of recipes online.
The Facts: Huge food distributors and processors cannot control the flow. Scandals in the food industry are on the increase. A control is impossible. Producers, processors, and traders are subject to self-control. Four companies are in the account for 70% of trade in agricultural commodities globally and by revenue. These companies are:
- Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)
- and Louis Dreyfus Co.
The Big Lie: “These large companies make sure we can buy affordable food.” Fake! Their only intent is to increase their own profit and therefore, increase your price.
The Truth: As tons of materials are flowing through, they cannot control what will end up on your table.
The Solution: Buy local, from your farmer next door or shop online at a fairtrade distributor who serves you with fresh organic food.
6. Is It Save To Buy Food From A Big Brand Manufacturer like Nestlé?
Unfortunately not. The big brands look nice but they have the same issue as big processors. They are out of control. Their supply chain is too big. It’s simple like that.
The Facts: 50 food manufacturers account for half of all global food sales. Just have a look at the AGRIFOOD ATLAS:
The Big Lie: “The consolidation in food manufacturing cannot be stopped.” Fake advertising! That’s what big brands want you to believe. Just don’t fall into their advertisements and stop supporting them.
The Truth: Companies like Nestlé, Glencore or 3G Capital are mainly responsible for unclean and unfair food trade. They even try to control water, where people suffer more and more.
The Solution: Simply buy local food or from fair traders. Don’t fall into the lies of the big brands.
7. Is It Save To Buy From My Local Supermarket?
Maybe yes, maybe not.
The Facts: In the European Union, for example, just ten supermarkets account for over half of all food retail sales. An OXFAM report recently scored and measured these companies. They checked their supply chain policies, commitments, and actions against a set of development indicators. The assessment of how they treat workers and farmers is shocking. All companies earned a poor or very poor benchmark. Check the Grocery Store scorecard:
The Big Lie: “We serve you with cheap and healthy food.” Fake advertising again! That’s what big brands want you to believe. In reality, the only thing they want is profit.
The Truth: Supermarket stores like Walmart, Aldi, Tesco or Lidle are mainly responsible for the unhealthy and unfair food trade. They are good at marketing. Some of them even try to make you believe that they are selling organic or fair trade products with their very own labels. Just be careful. Selfmade labels don’t mean anything. It’s just a marketing tool to fool you.
The Solution: Simply buy local food. Farmers around you will love to sell you fresh from their farms. Or go online and buy from fair traders. As a consumer, you can change the world by shopping consciously.
8. What About The “High” Price?
Are organic fairtrade products always more expensive? Not necessarily. Over the last year, organizations like the Fairtrade Foundation have looked regularly at the prices of different products. Labeled with the FAIRTRADE Mark and similar conventional products. Some Fairtrade products are actually cheaper than non-Fairtrade ones. For example, whilst Sainsbury’s Fairtrade Colombian roast and ground coffee was selling at £1.99, another Latin American coffee that was not Fairtrade certified was selling at £2.75.
Many products are priced similarly to other products on the shelf. For example, Tesco Finest Java Sumatra and Mocha Sidamo are both £2.18, exactly the same as the Tesco Fairtrade Medium Roast coffee. And when Marks & Spencer changed all the tea and coffee on their shelves to Fairtrade in 2006 they did so without increasing retail prices.
What about the organic food prices? We see the same circumstances as described above with fairtrade. Producing organic food is associated with greater efforts. On the other hand, there are no high costs for chemical fertilizers.
The burden of injustice and unhealthy eating can never be linked to a price. What is the price you would pay for your own health or the suffering of others?
Help small-scale farmers, fishers, and workers who produce organic food for us!
Let’s make sure they are treated and paid fairly – Buy Fairtrade. Help yourself to stay healthy – Buy Organic Food only. The combination of both is the key to sustainability.
We the consumers can change the game and make our world a better one.
Still not convinced? Watch this amazing video about organic fair trade farming and how your consuming behavior can make a change.
(Source: Fair World Project)