Interview with Rosemary Weech of Rosemary & Thyme Catering.
Rosemary and Thyme Catering provide a comprehensive private catering service and also manage the Thatcham Discovery Centre Café and Seasons Café in the Newbury Corn Exchange.
This Sunday, February 27th, sees the start of Fairtrade Fortnight in Thatcham near Newbury Berkshire, an event and movement which Rosemary & Thyme keenly support. In the lead up to this event, I spoke with Rosemary Weech to find out more about Fairtrade Fortnight and what it means to them as a business.
So, what is Fairtrade Fortnight and how is Thatcham getting involved?
The event is part of a national campaign initiated by the Fairtrade Foundation, designed to raise awareness amongst the general public and in Thatcham, there is a particular focus on showing young people what Fairtrade is all about, through series of events, demonstrating that there is a wide range of issues to consider and goods on offer.
How will Rosemary and Thyme catering being getting involved with the event?
We will be participating in the Fairtrade Fun day at the Nature Discovery Centre on Sunday 6th March between 11 am and 4 pm, where alongside various activities and stalls selling Fairtrade products, we will be preparing and selling some special food items using Fairtrade products.
Is getting involved in Fairtrade fortnight new to you as a business?
Actually, we always make it a policy to choose as many Fairtrade products as possible to use in all our food, both in our general catering and at our cafes, here at the Discovery Centre and Seasons in the Newbury Corn Exchange.
Are you limited in the range and type of Fairtrade products that you can use?
Originally most Fairtrade goods were long life products such as tea, coffee and chocolate. But availability has spread a lot in the last year with most supermarkets having an extensive range and many of the leading brands have a Fairtrade option.
What made you actively choose to use Fairtrade products in your business?
For Rosemary & Thyme it’s a moral choice. The Fairtrade Foundation ensures farmers and producers get compensated for real and get a fair price for goods. This helps support local initiatives such as education and for the producers it helps increase their self respect as they are able to better support their families with the bare necessities.
Given the origin of many of these products, does that make them more expensive?
In general I really don’t feel the price to consumers is noticeable. It’s mostly negligible, if not the same in many cases. For us as a business, we can also choose to use these products and still run our business profitably as well as help raise our profile by supporting Fairtrade.
Why do you think supporting the Fairtrade campaign and Fairtrade Fortnight is important?
Raising awareness is always important as it helps put pressure on manufacturers to source and produce more lines or product ranges and for us, we need them to produce catering quantities which are not always available.
“Fair trade” isn’t limited to the Fairtrade logo. It’s equally fair to buy from local producers and suppliers such as farmers, who don’t always get a fair deal from supermarkets. So in effect the Fairtrade movement helps focus the local consciousness on where and who to purchase from.
Do you think it is difficult to convince people to change their buying habits?
It’s difficult to change mind set when it comes to buying local and buying seasonal, as there are expectations about having to both sell and buy things that are a uniform size and often these products have travelled miles to get here. However, dependent on the weight and size of products and seasonality, even if they are air freighted, people should be aware that the small items can have a smaller carbon footprint than goods which are transported long distance by road throughout the UK. So its on these occasions the concept of buying Fairtrade also becomes important, as customers are supporting local overseas communities who rely on export to survive.
The underlying message of the Fairtrade campaign is to “Think Global, Act Local” and everyone now has the opportunity to make a difference however small. We are hopeful that Fairtrade Fortnight will help local people understand a bit more about Fairtrade and how accessible the goods are, so they should take time to come along to one of the events and see what it’s all about.
For more information about Rosemary & Thyme Catering take a look at their feature page on our website.