Since I’ve started making the swap to fair trade and ethically sourced goods, I’ve become increasingly aware of the people behind the products I purchase. Perhaps due in part to my urban upbringing and existence, for much of my life I’ve been completely unaware about the processes involved to get a product from the field or its original state to the store shelf. But recently, I’ve started to think about the farmers who grow the food and the people who help gather the harvest. I also find myself wondering who got the product from point A to point B or who designed the lovely packaging wrapped around some of my favourite products.
As my awareness grows I’ve also started to notice where my products come from. For example, I do not simply buy chocolate from some unknown location, I now buy “Fairtrade Ghanaian Milk Chocolate” or “Fairtrade Peruvian Dark Chocolate”. This awareness means that I can vicariously travel through my purchases. For example, as I slowly savour that sweet single square of milk chocolate, I put my feet up and imagine the view along the Ghanaian coast.
Aaaah. Isn’t it beautiful? Who am I kidding, I’ve usually stuffed half the chocolate bar in my mouth before I even realize what I’m eating. But in all seriousness, these Fairtrade chocolate bars from Sainsbury’s have led me to think about the places my food originates and a desire to know more about those places. What the climate is like? How does the government operate? How do the majority of the people live? I can no longer blindly pick up items off the shelf without knowing where they came from nor can I believe that I am the only person effected by my purchase. The items I purchase impact a long chain of people. This is also true of the clothing we purchase, a topic I will explore in greater depth in the next week.