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Going Bananas for Fair Trade

Campaign to make Toronto a Fair Trade Town launched at city council meeting yesterday.

Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) and Fair Trade Toronto volunteers. Photo courtesy of FTT.

Councillors went bananas for fair trade yesterday, posing with human-sized fruit and sipping the coffee on offer. (There were also chocolate bars, and in the interest of full disclosure we will report that Torontoist editor Hamutal Dotan ate one.) Fair Trade Toronto (FTT) visited the city council meeting yesterday to launch its campaign to make Toronto a Fair Trade Town.

Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) read a proclamation during the meeting that outlined Fair Trade Toronto’s vision and his support for the organization, a local chapter of Fairtrade Canada. FTT kicked into gear last December to promote ethical sourcing of food and other goods.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) stopped by a table set up with fair-trade products such as shoes and handicrafts to chat about the organization’s objectives and to express her support (apparently, she’s already a fan of fair-trade juice and coffee), as did Councillors Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) and Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s). Even Mayor Rob Ford dropped by to discuss FTT’s goal, pose with the human bananas, and sign a proclamation declaring May 8, 2012, to be Fair Trade Day in Toronto.

Thus far, Fair Trade Toronto has been working to build awareness of labour and compensation issues in a town that’s become very focused on all things organic and local. The group has also been working to bring together existing fair-trade retailers and cafes, and recently set up a pavilion at the Green Living Show that included a number of local fair trade–friendly businesses.

The group is now campaigning to have Toronto designated a Fair Trade Town, which requires our fair city to host 260 retail stores and 130 cafes/restaurants selling fair-trade products (we’re currently sitting at more than 100 stores and restaurants). Fifteen cities total in Canada have already achieved Fair Trade Town status, including Vancouver and even little ol’ Barrie.

Now may be the time for Toronto, as political will appears to be aligned with all things foodie. (Later today, council will discuss cutting at least some of the red tape posing trouble for food trucks.) With councillors’ interest piqued, Fair Trade Toronto is now looking to promote its vision at local schools and to partner with other organic and local food organizations. More power to them, and may they continue to photograph Rob Ford in the company of plush bananas.

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