I recently read an article where Cafedirect’s new MD explained how his strategy to strengthen this Fairtrade company included, among other things, getting the message across to consumers that Fairtrade was not an ‘act of charity’.
This statement really got to me and I made me think about what we really understand by ‘charity’ and why it often seems to have negative connotations. The way I see it, charity is essentially an act of ‘kindness’ towards someone in need… and so I don’t understand why we feel the need to distance ourselves from such a noble attitude?… especially when it seems like, if anything, we are bombarded on a daily basis by news of the terrible acts that we humans are capable of committing.
I guess it has to do with the fact that we take great pride in achieving things independently (I see that all the time with my 1-year-old, who insists in feeding himself, going up the stairs unaided, etc) and perhaps there is also something about not depending on others in order to reach our goals. I completely understand both, and if I transfer this to how producers might feel about us purchasing their Fairtrade products, I can obviously understand that the reason for deciding to pay a fair price for a products is not, or should not be, about doing anyone a favour, but simply because it’s the right thing to do.
But, bottom-line opting for Fairtrade is an act of charity because it involves a conscious decision to, through our purchasing power, ‘help’ others in their struggle to earn an honest living and provide for their families.
And we all need such acts of kindness, perhaps, us who are lucky enough to live in developed countries don’t have livelihoods that depend on others making such decisions everyday, but I do think that we still do very much need such small acts of kindness in our everyday lives, whether it’s a kind word of encouragement from your mother before a big day, or a smile from a stranger when you are about to lose the plot while juggling 2 babies, keys, your wallet and 20 bags at the checkout, or the act sharing that cup of tea with your best friend after a though day (or night in our case!).
I think in a way they are all small acts of charity, and even though they might not involve a donation of money, they involve giving some sort of boost, and we should not feel too proud to say that we all need one more often than we’d like to admit. For me, choosing a Fairtrade product is like sending a smile to all those hard working producers out there, not our pity, but instead our encouragement and understanding, and the message that we do also want to be part of a fair system where they can feed and look after their families in the same was as we can in our side of the world.
I’d like to think that the recipe I chose this time around is a little bit like such acts of kindness: to ourselves, because we are opting to eat a super healthy combination, and to others if you choose like I did, to make a big batch to share with your friends.
300 gr of oats
250 ml of honey (I used a delicious local Kentish one)
50 ml of vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of water
50 gr Fairtrade Brazil Nuts
50 gr Fairtrade Pecans
50 gr dried coconut
50 gr pumpkin seeds
50 gr sunflower seeds
50 gr Fairtrade Almonds
100 gr dried apricots
1) Heat the oven to 140 C
2) Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl
3) Heat up the honey with the oil and water in a pan, until it gets very runny.
4) Combine it with the dry ingredients.
5) Spread on baking paper or non-stick baking sheets, and bake for 40 minutes, mixing it around every 10 minutes or so, so that it doesn’t solidify.
6) It will still feel soft when you take it out, but it will harden once you let it stand for a few hours.
An absolute winner for me. I chose the nuts and seeds I had in the house left from previous recipes and some sent by my lovely friends from Liberation Foods (http://www.chooseliberation.com), but you can add any nuts of dry fruits that you prefer.
It’s really delicious served with some plain yogurt or with milk and a banana or to just snack on as you wonder around the kitchen looking for something slightly naughty!. I think they also makes lovely homemade gifts to share with friends.