Apparently it's fair trade fortnight in the UK, so I thought I'd mention it. I heard somewhere (although I can't back it up) that the UK is one of the forerunners with fair trade products and that we buy more than any other country. Good on us! It's certainly gaining ground here in NZ, and our uni just went 100% fair trade coffee across campus. Can't get fair trade bananas here though, so there's room for improvement.
Not that long ago, a major portion of a families income would be spent on food but these days its a very small proportion (haven't got the figures, but there was an article on BBC news about it a wee while back). Admittedly we now spend a lot more money on housing costs, but our attitudes have changed to thinking that it's our right to have a new mobile phone and a big TV and a etc etc. I admit to liking being able to have quite a lot of luxuries in my life, but we should probably start to remember that they are actually just bonuses and to be able to eat a huge array of great food (and indeed we throw large portions of it away) is a privilage we shouldn't take for granted. We should be willing to pay a fair price for our food, both from a social point of view (ie fair trade) but also an environmental point of view. If we spent more on our food we'd have less money to spend on junk that we really don't need and we'd only buy those luxuries that were genuinely important to us.
It should go without saying that all trade should be fair so lets support it.