Fairtrade – is it Fair to All? Random Musings and Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Fairtrade – is it Fair to All?

Random Musings and

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns


Good morning! Before I have all of the Fairtrade supporters wading in to admonish me, let me explain, and VERY quickly, that  I AM a Fairtrade supporter myself! But, I also feel a certain amount of unease on a more personal level about Fairtrade for all…….let me explain.  Fairtrade is a foundation that highlights and fights for better prices, better working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world…….and, that is GOOD of course. And, it’s that ethos that encourages me to purchase Fairtrade on a regular basis, but, the available house-keeping money I have for food and beverages dictates that I can’t always buy Fairtrade, and that’s the basis of my post today.

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

So, back to the discussion, is Fairtrade a “middle class” product in the UK? Is it only the wealthier shoppers that have a conscience and can purchase Fairtrade productions? I often think that it’s the case that only the more “well-heeled” have the purchasing power to buy “ethical” ingredients, and it’s such a shame on TWO fronts. Firstly, the obvious reason is that many people are unable to afford Fairtrade products which ultimately SUPPORT the farmers and workers in the developing world, and secondly, those that cannot afford to buy Fairtrade products are usually the shoppers who themselves are struggling to make ends meet, maybe a family of four on a very low-income……..and just because they are poor, does not mean that they may not want to support the Fairtrade foundation, but they are not in a financial position to do so.

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

The reason this discussion has “rattled my cage” is down to a rather heated debate I had with a “smug” friend of mine, who whilst sitting in her tastefully and expensively  decorated living room, sipping Fairtrade coffee, implied that there some of us who are “not doing our bit” to support those in the developing world.  Well, I would LOVE to buy Fairtrade all the time…..and I DO buy Fairtrade bananas, sugar and coffee (those are the ingredients that I use a lot) whenever possible, but I am more inclined to try and support my local food community, as well as Fairtrade now, and it really is all down to the pennies in my purse and also trying to support local businesses…….so, does that make me a bad person?

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Let me just reiterate, I am a BIG supporter of Fairtrade, but, and this is a big but, is it in danger of becoming a middle class brand that is only financially available to the more affluent? Can a family of four living on the lowest wage, and JUST above the poverty line, realistically afford to buy that wonderful bag of coffee that makes you feel better when you drink it, because you know that  in some small way you have helped a struggling farmer in the developing world; or, should they just concentrate on putting the best food they can afford on the table to feed their children, and, does their poverty make them less socially aware of the problems and inequalities in other countries? It’s a difficult debate, and one that continues to occupy my mind……….

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Back to my recipe, which was made with some Fairtrade bananas that I bought from Morrisons – I was able to buy two bags for £2, which is a win win situation all around! I also used Fairtrade sugar too, as I do like to buy the basics from Fairtrade whenever I can afford them. These little breakfast buns are so easy to make and would be a fabulous addition to your children’s lunch boxes…..they are packed with delicious blueberries as well as some local (Yorkshire) blossom honey. I was very pleased with this new recipe that I developed, and these wee breakfast buns disappeared in a trice over the weekend. As these have Fairtrade bananas and sugar in them, I am entering them into the latest Breakfast Club over at Fuss Free Flavours which is highlighting Fairtrade this month – PLUS, as they contain an “H” in their title and are baked, that means that I can also enter them into Ros and Caroline’s Alphabakes event for May, as the letter is H! I will be back later today with my Meal Planning Monday post, but I will warn you that Monday’s lunch has already been taken care of, as my parents are treating us to fish and chips in Scarborough today! See you later…….Karen

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns


Honey, Banana & Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Serves 12
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Bread, Breakfast, Dessert, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Occasion Birthday Party, Casual Party, Christmas, Thanksgiving
Region British
By author Karen S Burns-Booth
Delicious little fruited and honey buns, perfect for breakfast, as well as for lunch boxes and afternoon tea.


  • 250g self raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 125ml milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons runny honey
  • 100g blueberries
  • 1 large banana, about 75g (mashed)


I used Fair Trade bananas and sugar in these little breakfast buns.


Step 1 Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a cake tin/patty tin with 12 cake cases.
Step 2 Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in sugar. Combine the oil, milk, eggs, honey and pour over the flour and mix well.
Step 3 Stir the blueberries into the bun mixture and then add the mashed bananas and mix again.
Step 4 Pour or spoon the mixture into the cake cases and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until well risen, firm and golden brown.


Do you try to buy Fairtrade whenever possible?

Has your food budget tightened a lot recently and how do you manage to buy ethically in hard times?


  1. says

    I’m a huge supporter of all things fairtrade but agree, pricing is a difficult issue. My parents did a week of living below the line on £1 a day and couldn’t afford any fresh fruit as far as I’m aware. It’s so difficult to drive the quality of produce up, yet make it accessible for all.

    Your muffins look lovely btw – wish I had one in front of me now for breakfast!

    • says

      Thanks! I also did the Live Below the Line for £1 a day…..not sure now if you commented on that, must check! I know how your parents felt, as I could not source any fresh fruit either…..it was hard. It’s a thorny issue and one that will probably not be solved….food poverty exists even in developed nations too, that’s the shame of it.

    • says

      EXACTLY Jenny, I was also going to mention that too…..I am VERY Lucky as I have my own hens, so I have access to free-range eggs all the time.

  2. says

    You are right to raise this issue Karen, I think if you remember back to the early days of Fairtrade it really was for those with spare cash, the great thing is that market forces have worked and now it is possible to find bargain bananas for instance, and the fact that chocolate bars such as dairy milk & kitkats are Fairtrade demonstrate that large multinationals do respond to financial pressure.
    The same arguement can be used for free range eggs and meat, the fact that the middle classes have used their financial power to support the production of fairer foods means that they are more widely available to everyone.

    Well done for reminding us that all these issues are not simple and straight forward.

    Jude x

    • says

      Thanks Jude, I agree totally and I nearly mentioned the argument about free range eggs and meat in my post….My hope is that Fairtrade may one day be more accessible to all who feel strongly about the issues they support, which can only be for the good of all!

  3. Melanie Moss says

    Love the recipe and the sentiment towards Fairtrade and agree completely.
    I just wish there was another organisation out there with sufficient clout to make the public have the same feelings towards always buying British and supporting local farmers in the UK.

    • says

      THANKS so much for stopping by and for your comments Melanie! I hope Saturday was a roaring success too…..I agree that a similar organisation to promote, help and support British farmers and workers would be welcome, and that’s why I always try to support my local food producer’s wherever and whenever I can.

  4. says

    Thanks for taking part in Breakfast Club Karen. Lovely muffins.

    It is a tricky issue, I think that if one can afford Fairtrade you should go for it. But I know it is not that simple. I find myself alternating between Fairtrade sugar and British Red Tractor when I shop.

    To muddly the waters more there are all sorts of other schemes,who pay a fair price, but which are not certified as Fairtrade too. Goodness knows how the consumer is meant to know what is what.

    • says

      Thanks for your comments Helen; it is a tricky issue, and I know that there are all sorts of other organisations out there that are also trying to support the “fair price to workers and growers” policy…..in the end, I shop with what is available locally and what I have in my purse…..but, I suspect that as this recession deepens, there will be many families out there that just cannot afford to support ethical food and ingredients, even though they would dearly love to buy Fairtrade etc.

  5. says

    a very well written and fair (no pun intended) argument… it is expensive and most definitely a middleclass inventive… however our local co-op do a huge range of fairtrade stuff and I would consider the co-op to be one of the cheaper supermarkets and the stuff really is a big seller for them!… ooh and lovely lovely buns Mrs! x

    • says

      Thanks Dom! And, YES! I also love the Co-Op for their Fairtrade ingredients, it’s where I go to get most of my staples such as coffee and sugar as well as chocolate, although Morrisons always stock Fairtrade bananas at very fair prices. I KNEW you would like my buns…..:-)

  6. says

    I do think the Fairtrade goods are becoming more affordable and I like to support Fairtrade in many areas such as coffee, chocolate and bananas. I think it is something that many people who like and know about food will aim to support in any small way they can. It is a difficult subject to bring up with my students though as they are generally low income families who simply go for the cheapest option available. Still, I might ask them what they know about Fairtrade and try and get some feedback for future classes. Thanks for raising the issue and for these wonderful breakfast buns!!

    • says

      Thanks Laura! As Dom reminded me, the Co-Op does a great range of ethical ingredients, as well as Fairtrade, and that’s where I get most of my staples from. I WOULD love to hear what feedback you get from your students….it will be fascinating!

  7. says

    Ethical shopping is a difficult issue whether it is organic, fairtrade or local and their are no easy answers. The politics of food is a massive topic and fairtrade is only a very small part of that. I don’t always put my money where my mouth is, though I try to most of the time BUT I would say it isn’t just about money. There are plenty of wealthy people who don’t buy ethically and plenty of people on low incomes who do, it’s about raising awareness and priorities as well as money.

    • says

      Yes, very well put Choclette…..that was a point that I should have made too….I DO love the Co-Op though for accessible ethical ingredients.

  8. Mere says

    What is important to consider too, is that unhealthy food is cheap. Healthy foods are costly. Here in the States…unemployment is still rising. Food costs are escalating even faster.
    It’s not that people don’t have good hearts and don’t want to help poor countries to be economically stable or eat free range eggs etc…they simply can’t afford to.
    Eating this way is not feasible for many families.
    Bananas are very expensive where I live. So is tea and coffee.
    There is more than meets the eye and it isn’t only low-income families who are forced to economize.
    If all food was safe to eat it would be a lovely world. But as long as we are under the thumb of large corporations who produce the foods that are in the markets it is difficult to shop for most people and fill their families’ bellies. It has nothing to do with ignorance, but economics.
    It was just recently that we found out that schools were serving the kids ground beef with pink slime in it. Who knew? A cheap filler. Education is great, but food conglomerates are corrupt.

  9. says

    Co-op does seem to be the only accessible to all shop with a big emphasis on Fairtrade. They seem to make it easier, and somehow more normal than the others. But, I usually only go there for incidentals. Otherwise Fairtrade seems to be going the way of organic – rather elitist & a whiff of the ‘done thing’ about it. Which is a shame as if we get all inverse-snobbery about it then a good idea can potentially be sidelined in a backlash. Tricky all round. And, I’ve never had blueberries in a banana muffin. Good idea!

    • says

      Thanks Kellie, that is exactly the point I was trying to make…..some Fairtrade customers articlate about it very vocally, as if it is a badge of honour, and the whole meaning is overlooked and missed….I TOTALLY agree about inverse snobbery too!

  10. says

    Great post Karen and thanks for your honesty in highlighting an important issue. I’ve been reading about the live below the line challenge on multiple blogs and you definitely can’t do it with fairtrade products. I try to buy fairtrade if I can – more recently I’ve been going to the local market and supporting the local community if I can. Thank you for entering these to AlphaBakes – they look delicious and contain all my favourite ingredients – bananas, blueberries and honey. I am definitely making this for my breakfast soon :)

    • says

      Thanks Ros, I am glad that you liked my Alphabakes entry too…..I bet HONEY was a VERY popular ingredient this month! I am also pleased that you enjoyed my related post as regards Fairtrade too….

  11. says

    I quite agree Karen, there is a lot of snobbery around food – personally if I can buy locally grown or British then I do, unless of course the quality and taste are not very good, organic if I can afford it, Fairtrade for those items like coffee and bananas etc. that we don’t produce ourselves. Of course some weeks I can afford an organic chicken, some weeks I can’t, I just buy the best that I can afford on the day. Eggs? I’ve bought organic free range for so long I can’t bring myself to buy anything else! However, the biggest threat we have are GM foods – I simply don’t want to eat these foods and I would dispute the argument that we need to have these foods because they are affordable for the masses, I think that’s a big con – the food may be cheap, but at what cost long term? The problem seems to be that we now have so many things we have to spend our money on that we want our food to be cheap too. My aunt told me that my grandmother (who was a widow with six children and who had been “bombed out” of her home twice during the second world war) always said that as long as they had enough to eat and heat in the house they were alright – unfortunately we need a lot more than that today!

    Great post – it’s always good to get a discussion going.

    • says

      Thanks Jennifer, and I SO agree about GM foods, I am VERY anti GM and I am sure that the testing that has been carried out in no way concludes how it will impact on the food chain and the environment – I also dispute the fact that it will help supply cheap food to poor and undeveloped nations too; the tests have just not been that conclusive yet. I also ALWAYS buy free-range eggs, although I don’t have to now, as I have my own hens…..but BH (Before Hens!) I always bought them from the local farm shop where half a dozen are 85 pence. Glad you enjoyed the post, it was an idea waiting to be shared and aired! Karen

  12. says

    Well said, sister friend!

    I have two more things to add on fairtrade…

    1. Fairtrade only supports the farmers who can afford to fulfill the fair-trade requirements for certification. What about the farmers – the poorest of the poor – who are ultimately dependent on middle and upper-class 1st world dollars who can’t even get certification? In this sense, how “fair” is fair-trade, really?

    2. Fair-trade is ultimately an affluent consumer choice – as you’ve said. But how does that release people from their true citizen duties? We rarely think about actually DOING something about the social/political/environmental/etc… injustices that occur in the world – it’s much easier for us to just walk into the local coffee shop and buy “happy” coffee. What does that ACTUALLY do? ….except continue to make “developing” countries more dependent on us? What does “development” even mean?? And why should indigenous and potentially self-sufficient economies and cultures be forced – based on our buying habits – into assimilating into a “western”/”northern” method of economy/consumption/production? Too many words! haha…

    Point is: Fair-trade, while better than nothing, isn’t enough.

    Food should be local. Small scale. Organic. Pastured. Seasonal. Accessible. And that kind of food and social economy should be fostered in communities locally as well as globally.

    • says

      Thanks so much for your interesting comments and you raised so many important points too…..I am off to read them in more depth now, thanks so much for stopping by to comment. Karen

  13. says

    Great post Karen, and your muffins look delicious! For some unknown reason your feed seems to have disappeared from my reader so I’ve re-subscribed.

    It’s tricky one. We buy Fairtrade where we can but often I can’t justify the extra cost when our budget is tight. It seems unfair. What I do though is buy a lot from our local market, which is cheaper for us but also helps the local economy and local suppliers. Swings and roundabouts I suppose.

    • says

      THANKS! I loved these wee breakfast buns too….the blueberries really added a burst of berry goodness! I am pleased you have re-subscribed to my feed, thanks….must check mine now you mention it. I agree that local is good, which was one of the points I was trying to make….it is all swings and roundabouts as you say! Karen

  14. Mere says

    My blueberries will be coming in soon! These look incredible! I am hoping for rain for my strawberries right now! Ah Mother Nature…sigh… :)
    I enjoyed reading all the posts above. It is interesting to see how others see things across the pond!
    Thanks Karen!

  15. Mere says

    Snobbery does not coincide with altruism. Although there are always those who don’t get this. I have seen more real caring and sharing among the less fortunate and they recieve no accolades or fancy gala affairs for a thank you either. Interesting…What all that thank you money could do for the unfortunate. Just a thought.

    • says

      Thanks for your thoughts…..I have also received the most amazing hospitality from people who were not that wealthy…..

  16. says

    These muffins look delicious, Karen. I’ve seen a lot of blueberry muffins before, but very few that look this appetizing. I’m impressed with the very short ingredient list – simple really can be better…

  17. says

    Interesting comments on Fairtrade – to be honest I don’t buy that many products where there is an obvious and easily available Fairtrade option (eg I don’t drink coffee or eat bananas!) but I am willing to pay more for things that are better for the environment/workers/animals. Just think about caged battery hen eggs – I know some people are on very tight budgets and have no choice but I think a lot of people who normally wouldn’t think much about these things automatically reach for free range or at least barn eggs now as caged has got such a bad reputation and there’s been so much publicity about it. Which can only be a good thing!

    And your muffins look great as well – thanks for entering them into Alphabakes!

    • says

      Thanks Caroline! Yes, I agree, and I was going to mention the caged birds debate in my post too…..as well as the obvious point, that local is good as well…..I am pleased that I managed to WIN with the letter “H” this month! I love entering Alphabakes when I have a chance…

  18. Mere says

    My latest fair trade purchase is 100% pure African Shea Butter the ivory color. This is produced by women subsistance farmers in Ghana Africa. I use it for dry skin. In ND, USA the weather is very dry and harsh in the winter. Great for alligator skin!!!! :)
    As for chickens…I raise my own free range. I have to put them up at night. Or I wouldn’t have any chickens! LOL But they roam freely by day and are not fed medicated feed.
    They taste outstanding and I know they are clean. The markets don’t always have clean birds. They don’t butcher them the old way.

    • says

      MY hens are free range too….and are fed on grain and kitchen scraps….love them to bits too – all of them are characters!

  19. says

    These muffins look wonderful.

    I can see where you’re coming from about fair trade products! You notice that there aren’t a lot of fair trade chocolate on our supermarket shelves, and the ones that DO have a fair trade label, tend to be more expensive.

  20. Fiona Matters says

    I totally agree on this one. Fairtrade is all well and good but it is expensive. At the moment I’m trying to shop local instead. I don’t tend to buy bananas anymore and stick to more local things like apples occasionally. Generally I have lots and lots of veg which is cheap and local. Probably have more fruit in the summer when it comes into season.


  1. […] interesting recipes…it made it very difficult to choose. Ones like Double Chocolate Truffle, Banana Blueberry Breakfast Buns, Egg & Bacon Pie, and Tomato & Onion Pasta that all looked so good to me.  But in the […]

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