Last Saturday I ventured to Toronto for the Toronto Fair Trade Show. It was held at 2nd Floor events at King and Spadina and featured about 25 Fair Trade vendors.
I spent the morning talking to vendors, learning about their products and hearing their stories. It was great to connect with suppliers I was not familiar with and to realize how local they are. The one that stood out the most is called Little By Little based in London. Their focus is orphan prevention. In Haiti, 80% of the orphans actually have family but parents do not have the financial means to care for their children. This a huge problem in many countries. Their solution to the orphan crisis is not to build more orphanages but to empower parents by providing them with job skills, therefore keeping families together. Turns out this mother of 10 childern (Isabel) that I spoke with is a close friend to the mother of one of my best friends. Small world! Keep a look out for jewellery by these artisans in the near future.
My Yoga Shop had displayed beautiful silk and cotton clothes, incredibly well made leather boots from Soul Woven and lovely smelling body care made with certified Fair Trade ingredients from Sweet Leaf Bath Co. ULLO, one of our suppliers had their luxurious sweaters and was previewing their new line, which includes men’s cardigans. Stay tuned for those as well!
Arayuma sells certified Fair Trade coconut milk and spices, both of which you can buy at Ten Thousand Villages and your local health food store. As we were looking at the large bags of cinnamon, Chanaka Kurera (owner and founder of Arayuma) informed us about the fact that the majority if not all cinnamon sold in grocery stores is not “True Cinnamon”. Arayuma sells what is called Ceylon cinnamon and what we are familiar with is called Cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon has a strong spicy taste and the bark is very hard, it also has very high amounts of coumarin which can be harmful to the liver and kidneys if consumed daily. The Ceylon has very low amounts of courmarin which do have health benefits as a natural blood thinner. It is sweeter in taste and smell and the bark can be easily crumbled with your hand. So when you hear about cinnamon having great health benefits, they are talking about “True Cinnamon”.
I spend the rest of the day walking around Queen Street West, popping into local, Canadian made clothing boutiques and my favourite destination in Toronto, Kensington. When The Toronto Fair Trade Show pops up again, be sure to go and be sure to talk to the vendors and ask questions. They are great people who want to tell their stories, you will definitely learn something. Plus you’ll come home with really awesome fair trade products!