We're in the middle of Fairtrade fortnight - now recognised by millions as a significant event. Over the past decade the sale of Fairtrade products has grown and the range of available goods has expanded. You can buy flowers, cotton and wine these days, as well as the more traditional tea, coffee and cocoa.
Fairtrade aims to alleviate poverty and encourage sustainable development.
The eye-catching blue, green, white and black FAIRTRADE Mark was adopted by FLO (Fairtrade labelling organisation) International in 2002. The symbol is open to interpretation – some see a parrot, others a green leaf, some see the black swirl at the centre as a road leading to a brighter future. The most popular interpretation is to imagine the blue as sky, the green as grass, and the black dot and swirl at the centre as a person holding one arm aloft. That figure represents the people at the heart of the Fairtrade system – it could be a farmer holding up their product, a shopper reaching to purchase, or a campaigner fighting for greater justice in international trade.
The day had, of course, the usual smattering of Eliot pictures! Early morning he sniffed his way around the parish halls checking for whatever had been there overnight. Every inch of the ground is covered by his thorough check. When he's finished with the building he does more or less the same all over the grassy area!
Normally Eliot doesn't beg ... but this morning he was very cheeky as Emma enjoyed her breakfast ... there he sat, eyes never leaving her plate ... I think I'd have found it very off-putting. His persistence was rewarded at the end when he did receive a little piece ... but I wasn't too pleased to see this kind of behaviour.
It did make for a few good pictures ... but that's not the point!
The Women's World Day of Prayer this evening was produced by the women of Chile ... a number of Fairtrade products come from there ... wine, honey and cocoa being among them. It makes a huge difference to producers and to workers to have access to the Fairtrade distribution network, thus ensuring a fair price for quality goods.
When faced with a choice of goods ... more and more people are opting for Fairtrade in the knowledge that the farmers and workers are getting a better deal. You can now buy Fairtrade roses (and other flowers) from Kenya ... just make sure that they have the Fairtrade mark!
Here is a gaping sore, Lord:
half the world diets,
the other half hungers;
half the world is housed,
the other half is homeless;
half the world pursues profit,
the other half senses loss.
Redeem our souls,
redeem our peoples,
redeem our times.
John Bell (Iona Community)