Fair trade versus Local Produce / Fair trade and Local Produce

Arcola Theatre, in association with the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, is connected with Growing Communities, an organisation that deals with the distribution of local grown produce. Growing Communities is a social business which runs community-led box schemes which can be collected from various pick-up points in Hackney, and is all local, fresh vegetables! As with Fairtrade products, local produce also have numerous benefits: supporting the local economy, reducing food miles, and enhancing community involvement and spirit.

With the concerns surrounding climate change increasing day to day, many firms, households and consumers are searching for ways to reduce our negative impact on the environment and to reduce our carbon footprint. With this in mind, the argument becomes in favour of local produce and somewhat against imported fair-trade. Thus, this raises the question: can they not both exist together?

Many of the products that we buy are only grown in developing countries and therefore it is logical to buy these Fairtrade products. For example, us Brits, we do love our tea! And tea, where does it come from? The majority of tea plantations are found in Asia, South America and Africa; places where the climate is suited to growing tea. Thus, in this case it makes sense to transport and ship over Fairtrade goods rather than growing and producing local goods. It can even be said that in some instances the level of carbon emissions is lower from transporting Fairtrade goods than producing local. In addition, the number of jobs created in tea plantations provides a boost to the local economy and their carbon footprint is reduced as they can afford to buy local food.

Buying local, however, does have its benefits and is often preferred for certain types of food. Our desire to buy local is often a result of our increasing concern over food quality and the need to trust what we buy. With local foods, it is possible to go to the Farmers market and meet the farmer and learn more about where the food comes from. This is increasingly being for advertised international foods through TV adverts and marketing, however the ease with which it occurs with local foods is unparalleled.

At the end of the day, some goods are just better suited to being produced abroad and others that we love are better made locally. A harmonious result is that balance of both types of goods in our shopping basket.

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