Fair Food

A few weeks ago, in a town in Peru called Huancayo in the Central Andes, we celebrated the anniversary of CEDEPAS, one of the founding organizations in the Joining Hands Network Peru (a program of the Presbyterian Church USA Hunger Program).

It was a conference about Organic Agriculture and Food Security with Sovereignty. With a convincing spin, the organizers decided Fair Trade was a relevant theme to present regarding the question of sovereignty….Based on my experience with the Bridge of Hope Fair Trade Program, one of the campaigns of the Network, I related Fair Trade to Organic Agriculture. Here's my take:

Organic agriculture is a development alternative. It is a choice to grow food with respect for the earth and for community. It is an effort to live with solidarity and responsibility, for the land and for our bodies and for our families. Practicing organic agriculture (growing, harvesting, preparing, eating, digesting) means choosing to step outside the easy come easy go meals from a can which benefit neither the producer nor the consumer. It means investing in change and investing in life.Tags

Fair trade is also a development alternative. It is a choice to buy products that respect the earth and the community: products made in conditions that believe in caring for the environment and caring for the rights and health of producers. It is an effort to live in solidarity between producers and consumers, not to exploit producers so that the consumers benefit from the cheapest price possible while the producers embody all of the cost. Practicing Fair Trade means taking a real look at the systems of trade that "can" the global economy and keep the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Fair Trade means investing in change and investing in life.

And that, to me, is the most Christian thing we can do, if you want to put the theological spin on it. What did Christ teach us, if not that life conquers death? That we ought not sit complacent in the face of injustice, but rather confront over-processed, dehumanized, dehumanizing systems and work to change them into real, fair relationships?

Fair Trade is an organic movement. It's an alternative to the big systems of trade that confuse us all into complacency with piles of jargon and rotting bumper crops subsidized against underproductive fields in hungry countries. Fair Trade is a new way of relating, using principles of equity, justice, transparency, solidarity, and empowerment. And this model is one we can use not just for wholesale orders, but in every encounter we have with our neighbor.

Try it. It has a refreshing crunch.

* * * * * * * *
Huancayo Alexandra Buck serves as facilitator for the Bridge of Hope Fair Trade Program of the Joining Hands Network PERU. She buys her fruit and veggies from the local market and respects the prices that artisans set for their products. She loves the bright blue of the Andean sky and the sunny wind through Huancayo.