Lent made simple (and tasty) with Fair Trade

Catholic Relief Services is urging us to think and trade fairly this Lent, this Easter, and always

When the Lenten thing to do involves chocolate and coffee, it may not mean giving them up. Instead you should buy them (even if you don’t consume them right away) from Fair Trade markets. This goes for your Easter planning, too. If you’re planning to give away and eat lots of chocolate come March 27th, buy Fair Trade options.

That's the message of Catholic Relief Services—the relief agency of the bishops of the United States—and it may be one of the most practical and long-overdue Lenten messages in recent memory. When sacrificing for spiritual purposes, try to keep it from turning into an unplanned sacrifice for others. When exploring how to live more charitably, give some thought to how and what you purchase, and where it all comes from.

Then do the same thing all year.

The concept of Fair Trade may be new for many of us. That needs to change. Purchasing from Fair Trade markets, as CRS urges and supports us to do, encourages economic markets that:

  • Pay a fair wage in the local context
  • Offer employees opportunities for advancement
  • Provide equal employment opportunities for all people, particularly the most disadvantaged
  • Care for God’s creation by engaging in environmentally sustainable practices
  • Are open to public accountability
  • Build long-term trade relationships so that workers can plan their futures
  • Provide healthy and safe working conditions within the local context
  • Provide financial and technical assistance to producers whenever possible

I spoke with Simone Blanchard last week about all this. Simone heads up efforts at CRS to get us thinking fairly about the trade we engage in. She explains these efforts in her recent post about the topic. I’d encourage you to read and share it with your parish.

Simone notes how over the years she’s met artisans and farmers who've benefited personally from Fair Trade programs and have shared those benefits with their family and community.

Fatima Ali, president of the Kuapa KoKo farmers union in Ghana, is one of the people that Simone wants us to know is out there.

By helping others in your parish support Fair Trade efforts, you’re acting with charity not just to those who made the products. You're also helping the people who buy them.

“Her farmers union produces the cocoa for Divine Chocolate. Fatima shared with me the real impact that fair trade has had on her life and the life of her community: financial independence, schooling for children, a well with clean water, and safe secure houses.”

To help people like Fatima, Simone’s suggests four ways you and your parish can help this Lent, this Easter, and always.

  1. Bring faith formation to life through reflections, prayers, and activities with a global perspective. (She offers resources to do this as well.)
  2. Host a CRS Fair Trade Consignment Sale before and after Masses.
  3. Host a CRS Fair Trade Community Order and share fair trade with your small faith community, youth group, women’s group, senior group, or other ministry.
  4. Switch to fair trade coffee through CRS partner Equal Exchange or other CRS partners in your area.

Here’s what's so brilliant about what Simone is suggesting and what CRS is doing: By helping others in your parish support Fair Trade efforts, you’re acting with charity not just to those who made the products. You're also helping the people who buy them. That's because you're helping them realize that it's easy to live out what Christ and His Church are asking of us.

Visit here for (much) more on CRS's Fair Trade efforts.

And may you all have a blessed and beneficial Lenten Season.

If you like Catholic Ecology,
you’ll love…

A Printer's Choice

The sci-fi novel with a Catholic twist.

A Printer's Choice

Learn more

About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.