At Home With… Tony Ryan

Tony chats to Ciao about his Fair Trade stall

Tony Ryan runs “A Sustainable Life” stall at Marrickville Markets every Sunday. Here he chats to Ciao about food and Fair Trade…

Can you tell us a bit about your market stall?
We started our business because we wanted to make a difference and give consumers a Fair Trade and sustainable choice for their weekly shopping. We are a social enterprise that is community based and we help local community groups as well as Fair Trade communities in producing countries. We try to keep our prices as low as possible to ensure that everyone can afford to buy Fair Trade and make a personal difference.
We stock Fair Trade and organic tea, coffee, chocolate, quinoa, mascobado sugar, rice, raw cacao and cacao butter. We also stock other Fair Trade and sustainable goods such as jute bags from Bangladesh, biodegradable plates and 100 per cent post consumer paper products. And our personal favourite at the moment, elephant poo wrapping paper, journals and kid’s craft kits from Sri Lanka.

Why is buying Fair Trade food so important to you?
Because every time you buy a Fair Trade product you are making a real difference to producer communities. The Fair Trade system contains a premium that is paid back to the communities so that they can invest in what is important to them, such as health, education or basic infrastructure. People often become overwhelmed with wanting to make a difference, but don’t know how to go about it. Fair Trade is one of the most effective ways to make a difference. You are not giving aid, but rather supporting trade and paying a fair wage so that the producers can build sustainable and strong communities.

How can people be more sustainable when it comes to their grocery choices?
Talking to people, I have come to realise how disconnected society has become from our food and how it is produced. When I talk about chocolate for instance, most people are unaware of how much child slavery there is in the chocolate industry, which has come about because of the huge global demand for chocolate and the ensuing pressure that it be cheap. This goes all the way down the line so that the growers cannot afford to pay wages. In Cote d’Ivoire, which produces most of the world’s cacao, there are so many children that have been kidnapped from neighbouring Mali (one of the poorest countries in the world) to sustain the cacao industry.
We are also having the same happening right here in Australia with the milk industry. Consumer demand for cheap milk (aided and abetted by the supermarkets) is pushing down the price of milk to possibly unsustainable levels. So find out more about food production and think about the products you are buying, where and how they are produced.

If you could invite anyone over for dinner at your place, whom would you invite?
The CEOs of Nestle, Lindt, Hershey, Cadbury and Mars, along with enslaved children from Cote d’Ivoire and their families from Mali. Why? I would like these CEOs to personally hear what their companies are doing to communities in the producing countries. The dinner could either be very awkward or world changing!



Avocado chocolate mousse

1 avocado
2 tblsp raw cacao
2 tblsp of honey, maple syrup or agave

Blend an avocado with 2 tablespoons of raw cacao, along with 2 tablespoons of your choice of sweetener (honey, maple syrup or agave etc) in a mixer until smooth.
Using this base you can then experiment with additional flavours such as orange zest or vanilla, and top with fresh fruit.

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