Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fair Trade: for the people, for the planet

Last weekend I had the awesome privilege of attending the Fair Trade Federation Conference in Milwaukee.  I carpooled to the event with a group of local women who are making a difference by volunteering their time with Just Fare Market, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving lives through global partnerships and fair trade.

What I learned through attending the various activities offered at the Fair Trade Federation Conference was as simple as the main ideal of fair trade itself.  Fair trade supports and nurtures all the people of the world, and our fragile ecosystem.  Using consumer decisions to improve the environment and the lives of others is something we can do to create change everyday, whether it is through buying fresh organic produce at a local farmers market or buying a stunning pair of rain forest seed earrings in a fair trade store like Just Fare Market.

Change is implemented one small step at a time, and we all can make a difference by taking the time to wonder where all these products we buy come from, who is working to make that product, and what kind of working conditions and wages are given in return for their labor.

 Visit the Fair Trade Federation website for more information on World Fair Trade Day events in your area.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Why Fair Trade Matters

Fair trade is not a charity, brand name or political perspective.  It is an ideal for equal opportunity for all people, both in our local communities and the throughout the globe. It supports sustainablility and empowers farmers, craftsmen and artisans who would otherwise have little opportunity to improve the quality of their lives.  Involvement in the fair trade program teaches these producers sustainable agriculture, conservation and entrepreneurial skills.  These individuals and families are becoming small business owners and strengthening their local communities.

In addition to buying local food, products and services, shopping with awareness of global fair trade can also strengthen our local economy.  When you use your dollar to support a fair trade product, you are ensuring that jobs in your own community are not being sent to foreign countries to decrease labor costs.  You are also casting a vote in favor of a higher global standard of environmental awareness which impacts us all.

Behind each fair trade product is a story.  Ask your local farmer or the shopkeeper at a fair trade store.  They will tell you the story of how a person's life has been improved because of people like yourself and everyone who supports fair trade. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Emotional Eating

Admittedly I have always had a problem with emotional eating. You know, those times when you are so stressed out that you turn to food- often extreme amounts of overly processed and sugar laden food. Like tonight, for example, when I ate two pieces of cheesecake for desert, then turned to the chocolate covered raisins that I picked out of my trail mix. Oh yes, I had a sweet tooth tonight. It was almost like a demon inside me poking and prodding until I gave in and consumed mass quantities. A little of the “forbidden fruit” of chocolate and dessert is no big deal, but when eaten with such blatant disregard for portion control these temptations can lead to disaster. The disaster of having a spare tire above my bikini bottoms this summer.

I feel this guilt now that it is over and I have had my fun. I wish I had moved more slowly, savored the moment more. I still feel unfulfilled.

Emotional eating can only end when you take a good strong look at your personal life and relationships and decide what it is that is making you unhappy and craving more. Are you struggling at work, financially, in your family or relationships? Do you have a strong support system in place to help you cope with these stressors? And most importantly, what is missing in your life that you are trying to replace with the comfort and pleasure of food? Do you lack intimacy? Excitement? Time to yourself?

Once you have determined why you are turning to food to help you feel better, you can begin to change your habits into more healthy ones. If you find yourself craving or indulging in junk, ask yourself what you are feeling emotionally. Allow yourself to feel that emotion for a moment, whether it is fear, anger, worry or lonliness, and then take several deep breaths and clear your mind, letting go of any emotions as much as you can. Try to redirect yourself in this way each time you reach for the junk food at a tense moment. You may find that you would benefit from relaxing practices such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, or artistic expression.