“Upcyling,” The U.S. Farm Bill and the Ohio Fair Trade Expo
Yesterday I went to the Ohio Fair Trade Expo at John Carroll University in University Heights, OH. The event was organized by the Ohio Fair Trade Network, a group who works to create positive change by educating consumers with a better understanding of the impact of purchasing choices and by educating businesses about the impact of trading practices.
The Expo had workshops, presentations, and a marketplace with fair trade businesses.
One workshop I attended was a presentation by Adam Olson of Oxfam America who presented on the politics of food and trade, and talked how current trade practices contribute to our challenged food system and how some reforms can help break cycles of poverty.
I learned about the U.S. Farm Bill, the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the federal government, and reviewed every 5 years. This bill can impact international trade, environmental preservation, food safety, and the well being of rural communities. One important element that is reviewed in this bill is which crops will receive subsidies.
Adam also talked about how when food becomes fuel – the prices go up. He also talked about how the subsidy of corn to support ethanol undermines the corn market and affects both the U.S. and international market. Surpluses of crops are sold on the international market at low prices, making it so that other countries cannot compete in the agriculture market.
I also attended an interesting presentation by Megy Karydes, owner of World Shoppe. She talked about the goals of fair trade, and how it is not about the product – but about the process and being a good steward of the environment. She showed examples of fair trade organizations that take this one step further and recycle or “upcycle” raw materials to create fair trade designs. “Upcyling” – taking something that would be thrown out or put into a landfill as waste – and using this material to make something new. Some examples included Revy, who sells necklaces out of fish scales, World Shoppe who sells cow bone earrings, and Greenola who makes necklaces out of recycled acai berries and ayayo cloth.
Megy’s presentation was helpful in that she ended with a list of what we could do- which included sharing this information with others, supporting Fair trade where we could, and participating in Fair Trade Day and Fair Trade month (which is right now – October.)
Ohio Fair Trade Network – http://ohiofairtrade.com/
Megy Karydes – World Shoppe http://www.world-shoppe.com/
Megy Kardes blog – shopfairtrade http://shopfairtrade.wordpress.com/
Oxfam America – http://www.oxfamamerica.org/