Category 2: Fair trade products

The candidates for the category ‘The best fair trade product’


| October 2004 issue
Meat substitute
The holy food of the Incas
One of the world’s best-kept food secrets! This is how quinoa is sometimes described. It is an extremely nutritious grain from the Andes mountains, which the Incas considered holy. The seeds of the quinoa plant are still used in South America for bread or porridge. But Europeans also used quinoa until it was pushed aside by corn and potatoes from the New World.
Quinova is the brand name of a new, processed quinoa product that can serve as a meat substitute. It’s gluten-free, contains little saturated fat, is rich in essential amino acids, digests easily and—not least of all—tastes great. The quinoa used for Quinova is cultivated in an environmentally-friendly way. The profits from Quinova help support local communities in the Andes.
Available in: England, Wales
URL: www.quinova.co.uk

Chocolate
Pure gold
Was it because his wife is a chocoholic that Craig Sams came into contact with local cocoa farmers on a Central American vacation to Belize? They discovered a fantastic drink based on cocoa beans and spices. Upon inquiry it appeared that local strains of cocoa beans have a rich history. But to their complete amazement they learned that a large company was offering local farmers money to replace their beautiful cocoa beans with a new variety. Sams, founder of Whole Earth, a pioneer in organic food, suspected that the company pushing the new beans would exploit the farmers’ dependent position, and so he made them a counteroffer based on their traditional cocoa beans and fair prices. And the first organic fair trade chocolate, Maya Gold, was born, along with the chocolate factory Green %amp% Black’s.
Now, over 1,500 small independent farmers in Belize, the Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Ecuador produce for Green %amp% Black’s, all on the basis of organic production and fair trade. The product line was expanded to include several types of chocolate bars, chocolate milk, chocolate spread, chocolate cookies and chocolate ice cream.
Available in: Austria, Denmark, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States
URL: www.greenandblacks.com

Bananas
More than delicious
In nearly all tropical countries, the banana is considered an inexpensive source of vitamins and vitamins. It grows quickly, can be harvested throughout the year and doesn’t require a lot of chemicals or fertilizers.
But the bananas in our Western supermarkets are different, as I discovered last year when I did a report on the banana industry for Ode. In Ecuador, the largest banana exporting country, I saw vast banana plantations where pesticides were sprayed all too freely in an effort to prevent disease and keep down labor costs. The result? Workers frequently suffer from headaches, irritated eyes and skin, memory loss, nausea, fatigue, poisoning, infertility, birth defects, cancer and respiratory problems. Local waterways are also polluted.
Then there are organic bananas. On my trip, I visited Pablo Prieto’s plantation. Prieto is the only businessman in Ecuador who has certification for both organic production and fair trade. On 300 hectares (750 acres) he produces some 4,000 boxes of organic bananas a week.
On the plantation we visited, Prieto’s staff greeted him like a good friend. Not so strange considering that of the $7.10 dollars (5.75 euros) he is paid per box, one dollar goes directly to the association set up for his 250 employees. With that one dollar, Prieto’s generosity has accomplished a lot. There’s a little supermarket in Pasaje where employees can buy everyday basics at lower prices, there’s a health clinic where a doctor provides free consultations along with deeply discounted medicines. Prieto helps pay for the education of workers’ children.
Marco Visscher
Available in: Austria, England, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland
URL: www.prietoorganics.com

Coffee
Consolation for coffee beans
It’s nice to see fair trade coffee available in so many places. But to get a cream layer on top of their coffee, many people have a Senseo machine, a recent invention that makes a fresh cup of coffee in no time. This clever device, however, requires special “pads” containing ground coffee. A typical high-end product for the affluent, which is precisely the group prepared to spend a little extra on fair trade, environmentally-friendly products. A hole in the market, thought the Fair Trade organization. And so third world and fair trade shops now also sell fair trade coffee pads. Sixteen percent of the sales price goes to the coffee farmers. And there’s already a decaffeinated variety and plans for organic pads.
The coffee pads carry the quality mark of the Max Havelaar foundation, which guarantees a minimum price, a premium on the world market rate and a continuous trade relationship. These favorable conditions form the basis of the Fair Trade Organization, which purchases a wide range of products from groups of farmers and artisans in Africa, Asia and Latin America. By working with Fair Trade, small coffee farmers can sidestep the middlemen who often offer rock-bottom prices hoping that those in financial trouble will accept. Moreover, the farmers are paid a portion of the price in advance to help them bridge the period between planting and harvesting their crop.
Now, thirty years after Fair Trade introduced its coffee in the Netherlands, some 13 million packs are sold annually. The recent introduction of coffee pads is a modern solution to a new trend in consumer coffee use.
Available in: the Netherlands
URL: www.fairtrade.nl/html/english

 

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