Today begins the Fairtrade Fortnight. This will require no explanation for my many British readers, who seem to (a) belong to churches that care about Fair Trade and (b) use the word “fortnight.”
For this side of the Atlantic, Fair Trade is an umbrella term for a kind of commerce that’s kind to people and to the environment. Think of coffee, where the people who grow it are paid an amount on which they can live (i.e. “fair”) and they are encouraged or required to practice sustainable agriculture. Yes, it costs more, but as Christians we shouldn’t be mostly worried about the financial bottom line, anyway. (For you protectionists out there, Fair Trade has nothing to do with Free Trade. You may now resume your isolationist bubble life.) Oh, and a “fortnight” is two weeks. It’s a handy word, even if most parishioners here are likely to stare blankly when I use it.
In any case, there’s the big shindig going on to promote Fair Trade products. This is something that churches should rejoice to practice, but most US Episcopalians — or at least Episcopalians here in the land that was defined by Yankee frugality — seem to want to just shave a few pennies of the budget here and there. So, visit the website. Tell some people. Ask if your church is fairly traded products.
My favorite fair trade product is coffee. The locally run place where we buy our coffee for home uses all organic, Fair Trade coffee. It tastes better, and it’s good for people and the earth. It also happens to be about the same price as Lousy Trade coffee. (I just made that up, I think. That’s trade which treats people poorly.)
I also learned that there is Fair Trade communion wine. This knowledge came from Dave Walker, who apparently has interests beyond drawing. It would seem like a supremely bad thing to say all the words we say at the Eucharistic prayer and then consecrate things that are bad for people and God’s creation. So maybe we should be looking into Fair Trade wine.
Full disclosure: I’m a bit of a hypocrite for writing this. The parish I serve still serves “coffee” let alone Fair Trade coffee. Our brownish watery pseudo-coffee needs lots of work. Of course, no one has stepped forward to actually run our Coffee Hours, so I know that if I want it done, I’ll have to do it… Well, you get the picture. So pray for a Coffee Czar at Christ Church. And buy some fair trade stuff.