Lecturer goes bananas

AN Eynesbury law lecturer and district councillor is to restrict his food and drink intake for the next two weeks in a bid to draw attention to the plight of the world s poorest farmers. It had been Andrew Gilbert s original intention to consume only Fair

AN Eynesbury law lecturer and district councillor is to restrict his food and drink intake for the next two weeks in a bid to draw attention to the plight of the world's poorest farmers.

It had been Andrew Gilbert's original intention to consume only Fairtrade products during Fairtrade fortnight, which starts next Monday, February 25. But a trip to his local supermarket convinced him that a balanced diet would not be achievable, so he has modified his plans to embrace locally-produced food as well as Fairtrade produce.

Cllr Gilbert, a member of Huntingdonshire District Council and a former human rights lawyer who lectures at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, last year persuaded HDC to serve only Fairtrade products at council meetings.

"The bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade last year got me thinking about whether there was anything the council could do in the spirit of the abolitionists like William Wilberforce and Cambridgeshire's Thomas Clarkson.

"While fair trade and slavery are different issues, the important themes of fairness and social justice run through them both. When I learned that the council did not have a fair trade policy, I decided to propose that we have one.

"Even though there is obviously no direct legal duty for councillors to take the lead in helping people half way round the globe, I believe that the Fairtrade movement deserves encouragement and recognition from local councils."

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Having decided on the Fairtrade-only diet, he checked out his local supermarket.

"I knew I would start strong because the fruit and veg aisle is at the entrance," he said. "The start was not as strong as I thought. I wasn't overwhelmed with choice, some fruit (bananas, mangoes, nuts of various kinds) but no veg. Innocent smoothies displayed the Rainforest Alliance emblem, and I made a mental note to check it out as they would be a much valued ally in the two-week campaign.

"I ventured on. No dairy, although I had heard rumours of a Fairtrade yoghurt. I resolved not to rest until I had established the veracity of the claim. I passed quickly by the meat section and meandered past the mid-section miscellany, always conscious that my behaviour could reasonably be interpreted as furtive, rather than Fairtrade.

"The rest of the reconnaissance yielded no surprises. There were the usual rices, juices, teas, coffees, chocolates. My mood lifted only slightly when I spied Fairtrade muesli. But I knew that without yoghurt I wouldn't have enough saliva to eat a bowl a day in a reasonable time and hold down a full-time job."

So, for the sake of variety and to explore just what food is produced in Cambridgeshire, he added local produce.

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