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February Elstead Village News

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Dear Friends,

Did you know that we are a `Fairtrade Parish` ?  Probably not.  Does that mean much ?  Well, in all honesty, it doesn't mean as much as it should - at least, not yet.

By next month, though, I hope that it may all become a lot clearer.  The 9th -16th March has been designated "Fairtrade Fortnight", and we will be circulating our own leaflet to help more people to understand what it is all about.  I offer some extracts - here are ways that we can all make a real difference to others' lives (and go on doing so) without it being `charity` - it's just trade that is `fair`.

`Fairtrade` is not a brand of products (like `Nestle`), it is an independent label (like 'organic') awarded to products by the `Fairtrade Foundation`.  This label guarantees that producers in developing countries will receive a fair deal for their produce.

Worldwide, large scale producers are squeezing out small scale producers. Farmers and others often have to sell their goods at prices which do not cover costs - let alone make them a profit.  Consequently, people are forced to live in a level of poverty that we would find hard to comprehend (let alone manage to live with).

`Fairtrade` is not about charity - if producers are paid a fair price for their products, they do not need charity. Buying `Fairtrade` brings us good quality goods whilst bringing others a better quality of life.  The `Fairtrade mark` guarantees...

* Fair prices -- a living wage
* Decent working conditions -- improved health and safety
* The security of long-term contracts
* Respect for all -- no more child or forced labour
* Environmental improvements -- less chemical use
* More control over their own lives -- no need for charity

How can we help ?  It's simple. Just buy products with the `Fairtrade` label - and tell other people all about it.  There are over 1,300 `Fairtrade`-certified retail products.  These include: bananas, citrus, coffee, tea, mangoes, sugar, fruit-juice, honey, snacks, chocolate, cocoa, roses, footballs, wine, beer, and cotton goods., and the range is constantly growing.

All the big supermarkets stock `Fairtrade` goods, and several well-known coffee shops serve Fairtraded drinks - Marks & Spencer serve only Fairtraded drinks, so why not make a point of looking out for them every time you go shopping (or have a cup of coffee).

Then, of course, there are many things other than food that are `Fairtraded`.  Why not drop in to the Elstead United Reformed Church on the first Saturday of each month, 10 am to 12 noon, when they have a large range of `TradeCraft` goods of all sorts - and sell `Fairtrade` coffee to drink, of course !

William Lang.


P.S. 
Your local `Spar` shop also sells a few `Fairtrade` items - please make sure you ask for them, and encourage them to stock a wider range.  They are limited at present by their supply system, but customer pressure can work wonders !