Learning about Fairtrade at St James Church in Dalby

As Fairtrade Fortnight came to a close, a special evening was organised at St James Church in Dalby to learn more about how Fairtrade works, with an opportunity to partake in some chocolate tasting and discover more about the real story behind the confectionary, which most of us take for granted.

Margaret Newton, local Traidcraft distributor, hosted the evening, providing detailed information about how Fairtrade works to help poor farmers, workers and their families around the world, and answering assorted questions from members of the audience.

As one of the leading suppliers of Fairtrade products in the UK and the Isle of Man, Traidcraft is committed to fighting poverty through trade; bringing empowerment and dignity to the poorly paid and disenfranchised. Trading also encourages a reasonable standard of living and the chance to seek further opportunities, bringing additional benefits and independence.

With the fire burning in the hearth and the promise of treats later in the evening, Margaret introduced a short documentary entitled Fairtrade Matters, which followed the fortunes of Edson Maotchedwe and Tsala Mwale, who both work in the tea industry.

Set in Malawi, the film reveals the challenges that beset both the farmer and their co-workers as they look towards improving their lives, and  that of others in their community, through the assistance of Fairtrade.

This was followed by an informative and revealing illustrative talk about how the contents of the humble cocoa pod are eventually transformed into chocolate. It’s not easy to grow cocoa trees, which produce small flowers that eventually flourish into brightly coloured pods, but chocolate is arguably one of the world’s favourite foods.

But the theme of chocolate set the tone of the evening thereafter, with everyone encouraged to participate in tasting a variety of Fairtrade chocolate bars, challenging their taste buds and finding out how much they really know about the products on offer.

Later there was an opportunity to purchase a range of Fairtrade goods and sample a variety of home-made cake, with bakers challenged to combine  local produce and Fairtrade ingredients.

(Photos courtesy of Andy Powell, James Robinson & Simon Rawles)

Valerie Caine

© March 2015