My granny’s method of discovering the ethics, origin and age of a product was to fix the shop keeper with a stare of such intensity that he wouldn’t dare lie.
Back in the old days the path from producer to plate was simple, particularly in far away New Zealand; seasonal and transparent.
Then came the days of a kind of rabid, status consumerism, where consuming the roe from a rare species of sturgeon found only in northern Lake Baikal screamed VIP. Now, perhaps, the tide has turned. Consider the coffee farmers of East Timor, who before Fairtrade (the subject of our lead story) earned 15c per kilo of coffee beans. The only thing between the raw material and you was a roasting machine and some packaging. Compare that to the price we pay.
The concept of getting a fair price is just the way it is in New Zealand. Not so in developing countries.
The name ‘Fairtrade’ implies that perhaps other trade isn’t ‘fair’ which, of course, may not be the case. But the beauty of this accreditation mark is that the ‘fairness’ is certified by a third party, which is about as good as you’re going to get.
In the seven years Fairtrade goods have been available here in New Zealand, sales have risen from $2 million to $36 million.
Perhaps we are seeing the dawning of the age of the conscious consumer?