This week, on Earth Day, my baby turned seven! She has become a literary number, a good luck number, a Biblical number. This week, the love of my dog reminds me that time, all time, even socially-distanced time, is extremely precious and not to be taken for granted.
“It’s not fair,” could be the rally cry of middle class children, to which parents respond in the most condescending way, “Life’s not fair.” How bitter is that first taste of injustice- the crayon the kid brother stole and ravaged when mom wasn’t looking, the unquenchable desire for that new, expensive toy that will hold attention for mere minutes, the inarguable need for that acid-washed jean jacket with neon accents (I was born in the 80s after all). We stomach that frustration, then we grow up, and it’s all too easy to give credence to this notion. Life simply isn’t fair.
Our parents were not wrong. Life is utterly and completely unfair, but the phrase ends so succinctly- a glaring period. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. There is no further discussion to be had. Life is unfair.
That period is fine when the injustice in question is a neon-accented, acid-washed denim ensemble (let’s be real- we dodged a bullet on that one), but what about the larger, looming unfairness? Do we end our sentence with a period and turn our heads? Many do, but there are others who turn their eyes toward those injustices, seek to understand them and be so bold as to look that unfairness in the eyes and defy it.
I am no beacon of holiness on this issue. I try to live my life in a way that supports fairness, to sustain myself without depleting the stockpiles, but I am not above the blind eye or the cheated corner. I lean too heavily on the excuses of time and money and “someday,” but then I’ll find myself confronted with my own bullshit, typically when enshrouded in the darkness of a theater.
As a student, I found myself passionately involved with my university’s film festival. Had it not been for the new director, the event would have been a scrappy assemblage of films, but under her guidance, we skimmed the world for the most relevant and artistic films, many of them dark and emotionally daunting. Through the weight of these screenings, I saw injustices from corners long ignored by our media outlets.
Through the screening of Black Gold, I saw how my coffee habits affected others. I saw just how deeply unfair life is, how those in the thick of the unfairness are seldom, if ever, the ones to utter “it’s not fair.” I also saw ways to inch towards fairness, towards “Fair Trade.” These two words, when stamped on food mean we are saying “life can be fairer.”
That stamp of equality extends beyond food, a fact which crystallized at yet another film festival. Watching Fair Trade: The First Step, a short film at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival exposed me to the realities of cheap clothing (and on the brighter side of the festival- to Desert Dawg!). My fair trade coffee and chocolate are not enough. Food, clothing, decor, gifts… I must consider how and where these items were made.
Tomorrow, May 13th, is a celebration of that effort- World Fair Trade Day, an initiative of the World Fair Trade Organization.
The World Fair Trade Organization believes that Fair Trade is a solution to trade injustices and imbalances of power in the supply chain. It is our inherent power to make change. Together, hand in hand, we can work for a fairer world.
To celebrate this day, I’ve partnered with Ten Thousand Villages, a beautifully shop, but more importantly, an agent for change. Growing up, I loved shopping at TTV, the collections offered some of my first glimpses of the world and planted seeds for the extensive journeys I would one day make.
The stone slate tray you see here, with these chocolate splattered scones, is an example of how we can go beyond food choices to defy unfairness. TARA, the fair-trade initiative behind this handcrafted tray works for fair wages, educational programs, health and environmental awareness for its artisans, so adding this tray to my home collection is not in vain.
Our parents were not wrong. Life is not fair, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit still. We can make strides, big and small, toward a better system, so join the movement and celebrate the impact Fair Trade has on the supply chain. If you live in Pittsburgh, maybe we’ll cross paths at the Ten Thousand Villages in Squirrel Hill. I might just be the girl in the acid-washed neon jean jacket, defying my parents on all accounts.
p.s: If you’re celebrating World Fair Trade Day, don’t forget to use these hashtags: #fairtradeday #agentforchange
Disclaimer: I did receive product in exchange for this post, but all opinions and acid-washed, neon-accented jean jackets are all my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support With The Grains and stand up for good causes.
Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Cardamom Scones with a Hint of Coffee
About this Recipe: Loaded with fair-trade coffee, chocolate and vanilla, these whole grain scones are a responsible and sweet way to start the day. The coffee flavor is very subtle in comparison to the chocolate and cardamom, so up the intensity of your brew for a stronger flavor.
Do you remember the Dunkin Donuts commercial from the 90s (?), in which a man appears in various “costumes” in order to take advantage of a discount? “Dunkin Donuts it’s worth the trip!” he says each time he steps to the register. The donut clerk, amused by a hastily applied fake mustache, plays along and then eventually breaks it to the confused man, the discount he seeks is always applicable. No costumes necessary. It’s possible I have altered this scene over the years. It’s possible the commercial was for a different brand. Regardless, this is what I think of when I make multiple visits, in one day, to my neighborhood cafe. If only I had switched costumes (though to be fair, I think I do sometimes change outfits throughout the course of the day)!
This neighborhood cafe serves up coffee drinks and affordable, healthy foods, a mere block away from my apartment. There have been times, very busy times, when that cafe has fed me breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s something slightly shameful about purchasing every meal there when I am not only capable of preparing food for myself, but I write about preparing foods for myself. However,busy times call for convenient measures.
With Christmas shockingly close (thank you etsy for making me aware of just how close Christmas is with your S&H warnings!), we are in the throngs of very busy times. If you’re able to set aside some kitchen time, I highly recommend making these Whole Wheat Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins. Made with regular whole-wheat flour, they’re nutritious, dense and delicious! Most importantly, they are easy to grab in the morning as you try to meet the deadlines of the day.
Alternately, you could just wear a fake mustache and visit the same cafe again? Up to you…