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Fair Trade vs. Local products for Expats

Wild Jasmyne

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Joined: June 3rd, 2004
Location: Bamako, Mali

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  • Added on: July 22nd, 2010
So I've run into an interesting predicament here in Bamako, Mali. When I first came I was living as a tourist, in a hotel for 2 months, eating at restaurants, etc. Now I am living as a "local." I.E. have a $50 US per month 200 square foot apartment with no running water (well outside), kitchen, and 50/50 electricity. I work for $150 a month in a small guesthouse here. I am married to an amazing Togolese man.

So now I have converted from restaurants to more self-catering and local/street food. I go to the large supermarket here, Foumi, which is just plain convenient. I have a car, but feel like driving all over town to get the 10 things I want will have a worse impact on the environment/on my budget than just getting it all in one place. Foumi is no doubt for tourists and expats. You can find anything here from clothes, toys, videogames, TVs, and of course groceries (not produce though, which I still buy from the market). This is the place I go when I need sugar, coffee, olives, ice cream, bulk rice or beans, and stuff like that. However, I have found they have a huge selection of "Fair Trade Certified" goods. Just the other day I had some sugar from Ecuador, tea from India, steak from Canada, and Haagen Daas in my cart. Thats when I stopped and was like... what am I doing?

There is local sugar available made in Dakar, Tea from Rwanda, Coffee from Kenya, Salt from here in Mali, steak from.. here in Mali, and store-brand ice cream which I have yet to try. Here I am trying to get the "eco" goods by buying Fair Trade, but completely skipping local products. These local products are often not Fair Trade Certified, but in my opinion I still feel like it's better to put my money back into this economy than sending it across the seas to another one.

Does anyone else relate to this? What do you think? More of an anthropological/economical/philosophical question than general advice, I guess.
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KathrynD

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  • Added on: July 22nd, 2010
Remember "think global, act local". It's a useful phrase, but I think that's also our dilemma sometimes. We tend to think "global" first.

I have started to try to buy locally as my first choice. However, when I want something that isn't available as a local product, then I look for something that is free trade.

RyuKamagata

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  • Added on: May 3rd, 2011
I would buy local, the fair trade certifications are kind of 'ify' and usually marketing.

busman7

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Location: Traveling for a while away from Playa San Diego SV

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  • Added on: May 4th, 2011
RyuKamagata wrote:I would buy local, the fair trade certifications are kind of 'ify' and usually marketing.


That is correct in lots of areas, know for a fact this is true with Guatemalean coffee.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain



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