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Fairtrade and Ethical Food Purchase

By Wilf - Posted on 29 April 2011

Here amongst the website team we recognise that an entire diet of local food within County Durham could be both exciting and at times limiting your needs. With time we hope the amount and diversity of the food grown locally will increase. There appears to be plenty of meat, dairy and eggs in the area. There also appears to be an almost vacuum when it comes to fruit and veg, and all the grains seem to be going into animal feed or sold on the global markets. Consequently, the availability of local wheat and oats seems non-existent, unless we go to Northumberland or North Yorkshire and even then it's rare. It would seem we are left with no alternative but to shop at the multinational supermarkets for our daily groceries and then top it up with a sprinkling of local meat and milk. So here on this page we want to highlight some alternatives for you.

First of all many of the directory entrants as well as producing their own produce also run farm shops selling a wide variety of non local but often ethical produce - fairtrade, organic, small scale, processed by coops etc. We support this.

Secondly, there are national ethical wholesalers who supply to local small scale (often voluntary) food coops. These wholesalers include Suma, Infinity Food and Lembas. Locally the food coops can be established by yourselves in partnership with a wholesaler. There is normally a minimum order so clubbing together with a few friends helps. Alternatively there is the stall in the Durham Indoor Market.

Finally we must make our position on Fairtrade clear. Many fairtrade products simply cannot be grown locally - oranges, coffee, chocolate, bananas etc. We do not have a problem with a small part of our UK diet consisting of fairtrade and organic produce from further afield, but only a small part. We believe we should be working towards improving local food security and local resilience in all countries. We suggest that small levels of international trade in specialised goods, between resilient and otherwise largely self reliant localities, with different capacities for production - makes perfect sense but only at small levels. Only small levels should be imported as countries which are wholly dependent on export or import, whilst their domestic production for domestic consumption is insufficient, are vulnerable to shocks and are food 'insecure'. The UK has never been less self sufficient as we now import 41% of our food from overseas. Our worst fear is that international trade becomes a way to perpetuate the neocolonial situation of complete economic dependency.

We support the Fairtrade Foundation and the County Durham Fairtrade Partnership. We believe in working together and getting a sensible balance between fairtrade and local. We don't find it useful that these two ethical approaches have been pitted against each other by some as if only one is possible. We believe a balance between both is possible so if you find yourself with the desire for foreign foods please aim for fairtrade and preferably organic aswell.

If you wish to know more about any of the organisations mentioned above then please go to our Links page and explore the Fairtrade and Ethical Food section.

Local Food Website Team

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