Bremen, Germany, my first stop in Germany, is a hub for fair trade. Winning multiple awards for fair trade related successes, it was great to experience this innovative city. “Fair trade” is an often-used buzzword that stands for many things to many different people. The World Fair Trade Organization defines fair trade as, “…a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.” (http://www.wfto.com/fair-trade/definition-fair-trade)
The WFTO has 10 principles of fair trade:
- Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
- Transparency and Accountability
- Fair Trading Practices
- Payment of a Fair Price
- Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
- Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Freedom of Association
- Ensuring Good Working Conditions
- Providing Capacity Building
- Promoting Fair Trade
- Respect for the Environment
I believe it is important to learn about the process of assuring something is fair trade, along with the benefit of fair trading principles to both producers and consumers. Bremen was the ideal place to do this. During my time in Bremen, I stayed at Townside Hostel near the city, old town, and train station. It was an inexpensive mixed dorm room, but I felt safe and had privacy. Hostels are also a great place to meet people to interview! For example, at this hostel I met a rice farmer from India seeking new opportunities for trade in Germany. I was able to see the different varieties of rice he brought with him as well as talk about global food governance and trade. The other benefit besides comfort and meeting great people in this hostel was the kitchen. While it has been fascinating to try new foods in foreign countries, having access to a kitchen helped me to save a considerable amount of money by dining in. I love to cook, so this was also a nice way to relax in the evenings after a long day.
Bremen in the summer is lively and full of activity. Breminale, an annual summer festival, brings together people, food, music, and fun. I was happy to organize my stay during this popular event. Local bands played and there were hundreds of different food options. While Germany is known for its sausages and sauerkraut, they also have a great deal of Middle Eastern cuisine. I somehow always ended up eating some form or another of falafel (and I was not disappointed). Bremen also had an urban garden in the town center, and I had a pleasure walking around and seeing what was growing.
While I loved the city and learning about its history of fair trade on my lonesome, I enjoyed catching up with Lori Boegershausen during the last leg of her teaching Fulbright in Germany. A Florida Gulf Coast University alumna, she is essentially sustainability superwoman. Fun fact: Lori was the tour guide for my first Food Forest visit at FGCU! I am not sure if she even remembers, but my walk around the fruit trees back then kick started my love for studying food systems. During her time at FGCU, she gave countless hours to our Food Forest and was one of the main forces behind Real Food Challenge initiatives on campus. Lori focused her energy and got FGCU to sign the Real Food Campus Commitment, pledging to increase the procurement of real food, increase institutional transparency and increase student and community engagement regarding what is eaten on campus. During her teaching Fulbright in Germany, she successfully integrated environmental education into her work with students. In Fall 2017, she will be pursuing a graduate degree in Sustainable Development. I am excited to see the wonderful work she will be a part of in the future! Lori did not hesitate to show me around Bremen, and I felt truly at home in a foreign place with her hospitality. We explored the University of Bremen and went to a variety of fair trade shops. If you are ever in Bremen, definitely look into some of the fair trade stores such as Fairtradden. I was able to collect a bag full of information on trade and left with great material to read! If you’re reading — thank you Lori for showing me around a piece of your heart!
Departing from Bremen and Lori, I headed to Hamburg, Germany by train. I was fortunate to be able to travel there during the time of the Group of 20 meeting. The G20 is a meeting discussing themes relating to global economic growth, international trade, and financial market regulation. The Group of 20 is comprised of the 20 largest economies in the world: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and representatives from the European Union. G20 Hamburg summit was focused on issues such as migration, health, women’s economic empowerment, and development aid. On the train to Hamburg I prepared myself for the chaos. When planning my trip, I tried to get a press pass (but you must apply several months in advance). This “lack of ability to participate in high level discussion” was not only frustrating for me, but a theme of the protests that took place during the few days I was in Hamburg. The limited access for civil society to express ideas and have a platform at the G20 was evident, and many craved a space to share. I was able to attend all of the marches that occurred during the day (the marches at night got much too dangerous). Many organizations were present and sharing their concerns. Researching trade, it was critical for me to capture this moment of civil unrest during my time in Hamburg. I was able to hear criticisms of globalized trade policy from civil society. I returned back to my hostel with bags of propaganda ready to analyze the claims of the movements represented at the marches.
After attending the protests, I was very interested to see a museum exhibit called Food Revolution 5.0: Design for Tomorrow’s Society at the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it was interesting that it happened the weekend after the G20. I was eager to attend this exhibit and learn more during my time in Hamburg. Since almost everything was shut down for the G20, the city made all of the museums free the following Sunday!
Food Revolution 5.0 featured innovative ideas for the future of food, showcasing technologies such as indoor hydroponics systems and composting sets for the kitchen. The exhibit also commented on global food governance, food systems, and equality. Many pictures tied food insecurity to crisis and conflict.
I think my favorite part was called “Hamburg 2050” which featured a small model of urban agriculture in the city. I loved it because it was hopeful, displaying a future in which the innovation of the human creates thriving communities. It stated, “Tomato plants grow intertwined along the banks of the Alister. A school class plants lettuce and cucumbers in the Stadt-park, among people having a barbecue. Near the central station, carrots are growing on the roof of the Chilehaus. Everywhere in the city, edible plants are blooming and flourishing. Parks, banks, roofs and even interior courtyards are planted with various types of vegetables and fruits.” (Food Revolution 5.0) Mentioned is a possible addition of a “Coordinating Office for Urban Gardening and Food Production”, maybe I’ll apply in 2050!
I am looking forward to my time in Thessaloniki, Greece with each coming day. I will be staying at the American Farm School and volunteering on their farm. I hear tomatoes and peppers are ready to be harvested! I am eager to get my hands dirty.
Thank you to all those who have supported my project.