Is honey from South America a good thing for Europe?

Yesterday I found myself seriously debating with myself over what honey to buy at the supermarket. Right next to each other on the shelve sat two 500g jars of finest Swiss honey and Max Havelaar fair trade honey from South America. The Swiss at 12 CHF the other at half the price.

While I fully support any serious fair trade movement I think it’s ridiculous to fly products around the globe that we produce just as well over here. Sure, I want the honey farmers in South America to earn a decent price for their products, but doesn’t the shipment from their place to Europe make up for the greatest part of the final retail price? Helping the poor farmer by polluting the environment?

Max Havelaar also imports bananas and coffee beans for example. While the ecological conflict is still there I’ve got better reasons to put it off as we simply can’t grow bananas here in Switzerland. Of course, we could simply stop eating bananas all together, BUT if we buy them we can at least give fair trade products preference over “some other” products.

But honey, for God’s sake, seems as Swiss as it could be! Beemasters have a long history here. After all, I earn my living here and that’s where I want as much of my spending to go as possible.

My eyes wandered back and forth from one jar to the other as the above thoughts tortured my mind.

In the end I decided to buy the Swiss honey, but I bought the Max Havelaar honey nonetheless. Why? Because I wanted to try something new for once. Next time I’ll buy Swiss honey again for sure. Would you, too?

P.S. In case you wondered how the South American honey tastes compared to the Swiss: it’s a wonderful honey with a unique character, smooth, but discrete.

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