Ready for a challenge? An educational challenge to enrich your life as well as the lives of farm families in the developing world?
Why not accept the One-Month Challenge, a 30-day initiative which began in 2007 by Fair Trade Manitoba?
Participants commit to consuming only Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate for 30 days, beginning on Valentine’s Day.
When consumers purchase fair trade products, they support safe working conditions, democratic organizations in sustainable local economies, gender equity, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, sound environmental practices, high quality goods that reflect cultural traditions and long-term relationships as well as prompt payment of fair wages.
To many folks the term "fair trade" means coffee. But there are many other Fair Trade consumables available at Ten Thousand Villages in Brandon: teas, chocolate (including chocolate chips and baking cocoa), sugars, dried fruits, nuts, olive oil, spices, salt, quinoa, pasta, hot chocolate mixes, sauces and spreads.
Participants who complete a One-Month Challenge pledge form at Ten Thousand Villages, will be rewarded with a small incentive and will be registered in a draw for a prize that will take all year to collect — the winner will receive a different fair trade food product each month for 12 months.
There is also information, including online registration, at the Fair Trade Manitoba website: fairtrademanitoba.ca.
The Fair Trade Consumer Guide, a listing of places to purchase fair trade products throughout the province, is also found on this site.
Some past participants in the One-Month Challenge have stated that it is not a challenge at all — buying fair trade food products has become a habit and a regular connection to social justice issues for them.
But officially registering in the challenge each year is another reminder to share information about fair trade with their friends and colleagues. And many strive to add a new line of fair trade products to their lists.
Some folks, wondering about being faithful to the pledge for a "whole month," say that advance planning during travel days or vacation time is very important, but it is possible to keep the pledge.
The One-Month Challenge provides an opportunity for Manitobans to be active global citizens, positively impacting and investing in the lives of producers in developing countries.
Participating in this year’s challenge may also cause one to pause and seriously consider the following words from Martin Luther King: "Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world."
Ten Thousand Villages is the oldest and largest fair trade organization in North America. Through a network of 48 stores, as well as through hundreds of festival sales, Ten Thousand Villages Canada sells products from more than 120 artisan groups in 36 developing countries.
A non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee, the relief and development agency of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in North America, Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed, providing sustainable income through fair trade. This income helps pay for food, education, health care and housing.
Visit the program’s website at TenThousandVillages.ca.