Ethical Eating: Sustainable and Fair Trade Foods

Doing things right can be tricky, especially when it comes to your health and wellbeing. Between getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods and getting the right amount of exercise, it all adds up. But while trying to live a healthy lifestyle, we often neglect ethical eating. So what exactly do I mean by this? To me, this is the practice of eating with kindness and a conscience. It’s about going beyond what type of food you are consuming and delving a bit further into how your food gets onto your plate.

When food labels were first introduced, they only offered ingredient lists and basic nutritional info. These days, there are so many more labels to contend with. Food is labelled as organic, free-range, Fairtrade or non-GMO to name a couple. But what do all these labels mean? It gets confusing knowing the right things to eat – especially when it comes to the environment, animal welfare and the livelihoods of those that produce our food. A great place to start when you want to be a more conscious consumer is with Fairtrade and sustainable foods.

ethical eating

Feeding yourself fairly

I’m sure none of us support oppression – and you certainly wouldn’t want to be doing that in your own kitchen! This is where Fairtrade food comes in. The Fairtrade label is a certification given by Fairtrade International, a nonprofit organisation certifying that products such as coffee, chocolate, bananas or tea are produced in accordance with specific social, economic and environmental guidelines. What does that mean? It means that the farmers and farmworkers that got that food into your local shop were paid fairly, treated humanely and the environment was respected during the production process. I’d say that’s pretty important!

Another hugely impactful thing that Fairtrade does is endorse environmental protection. They promote training for farmers, which includes advice on switching to environmentally-friendly practices. This leads to good agricultural practices that encourage sustainable production.

Fairtrade’s standards also guide producers in adapting to climate change and reducing their environmental impact. Supporting farmers to improve the quality and the quantity of their crops is important for sustainable livelihoods.

So how do you know if the product you are about to purchase is Fairtrade? The easiest way to spot Fairtrade products is to look for this symbol

ethical eating

Supporting sustainability

The second ethical eating practice I want to highlight is sustainability. As my husband and I live on a small vineyard, this is a subject close to my heart. You don’t have to be a farmer to care about this topic though. When it comes to protecting the environment and creating a bright future for the generations to come, ensuring a sustainable food source for the world’s fast growing population is of vital importance. The one thing we will always need to do is eat, right?!

The term sustainability can be hard to define, but this concept is much more than a trending buzzword. Food sustainability is about feeding the world today and in the future, not by making the world’s agriculture system bigger, but by transforming it into something new that can withstand the test of time.

And now for the big question … how can you support food sustainability? We can make all the difference with the choices we make. Every time you choose one food product over another, or one type of food over another, you cast a vote for the kind of future you want to be a part of.

Keep an eye out for food marked as sustainable (for example GreenCape) or better yet support your local farmers’ market – that way you can actually engage with the people who grow the food themselves and learn more about exactly how your food is produced.

ethical eating

Eat with your heart

Ethical eating doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. I’m sure each and every one of you wants to consume conscientiously, act responsibly and to eat with your heart – not just your tummy. On the positive side you can do it – by making food decisions that reflect your values. Supply and demand work both ways and changes in food production depend on a change in our diets.

By being aware that our food choices ultimately impact more than just ourselves and by making ethical decisions when we do our grocery shopping, we can make a change for good. So keep your heart in your kitchen, keep an eye out for those labels and become an ethical eating champion!