The last week of February and first week of march may be better known for being the start of spring, the beginning of snow storms and pancake day but it's also Fairtrade fortnight. A whole two weeks dedicated to celebrating Fairtrade. "Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives." - Fairtrade Foundation. Essentially Fairtrade helps farmers in developing nations get a fair wage for their work. There are over 1.66 million farmers and workers spread across more than 73 countries participating in Fairtrade. Crops most regularly involved are bananas, coffee, chocolate and sugar. Products consumed on a daily basis all around the world by billions of people. It is so important to support Fairtrade where you can, if you are vegan you are already taking a big step towards eating ethically, by avoiding cruelty to animals. But we cannot overlook the cruelty suffered by people in the food industry!
You can tell which products are Fairtrade by looking for the Fairtrade logo, which is below.
In celebration of Fairtrade fortnight, I teamed up with the revival collective to bring you a recipe for a Fairtrade banana split. This unseasonably warm weather we've been having lately (cough global warming cough) had me longing for ice cream. And what better way to celebrate Fairtrade but with their biggest success, the humble banana. 1 in 3 bananas brought in the UK is Fairtrade, and all major UK supermarkets stock Fairtrade bananas, as well as fruit and veg box provides like Riverfood and Abel and Cole. I brought mine from my local Sainsbury's.
I wanted to include another Fairtrade product in my recipe and it had to be my fave... chocolate. Chocolate hasn't succeeded as well as bananas in the whole Fairtrade thing. Most chocolate bars on UK shelves are not Fairtrade, but there are a few staple brands that are, that you can find in most supermarkets. Look for Green and Black's, Rawr, Vego, or Divine chocolate. I used Divine for this recipe. Divine is the only chocolate company in the world that is 100% Fairtrade and owned by the cocoa farmers, giving cocoa farmers a stronger voice within the industry. I used one of their 95% dark organic chocolate bars.
The cocoa for this bar was grown on the small island of Sao Tome. I tiny island off the West coast of Africa. Funnily enough my dad has been to Sao Tome for work (completely unrelated to food, he's an archaeologist), but he let me include some of his photos of the island here. In the 19th century Sao Tome was the world's largest producer of cocoa, giving it the nickname "Chocolate island", Working conditions on the rocas (plantations) was slavery. In 1975 Sao Tome and Principe (it's slightly smaller sister island) relieved independence from Portugal. Many of the rocas previously worked for cocoa were left abandoned. However, the farmers left have formed co-operatives and are renowned for producing the best cocoa and chocolate in the world.
The Divine bar of chocolate I used came from CECAQ-11 co-op, which is made up of 20 cocoa farming communities, all of whom are certified Fairtrade and organic.
I added raspberries to the ice-cream, I love the sweetness of the raspberries against the dark bitterness of the chocolate. This ice cream is very low in sugars, it contains the naturally occurring sugar of the bananas, and raspberries and only two teaspoons of agave syrup, which makes it an ideal desert for diabetics like me. I served the banana split with the remaining dark chocolate melted to make a chocolate sauce, more fruit, and some flaked almonds. I looked all over for Fairtrade almonds, because I know they are a labour intensive crop. I found Fairtrade almond flour in harvest ( a health food shop in East London), but no actual almonds. If anyone knows if or where Fairtrade almonds exist please let me know!
The end result is a desert of champions, super simple to make, and really delicious.
For the ice cream
3 Fairtrade bananas (frozen)
1 cup frozen raspberries
120g dark Fairtrade chocolate (1 and a half bars)
2 cups dairy alternative milk (I used oat milk)
40g dark chocolate (1/2 a bar)
Bananas to split
strawberries, raspberries, or cherries (optional)
Flaked almonds (optional)
1) Thinly slice 3 bananas and then place into a container and into the freezer. Leave to freeze, depending on the size of your slices this can take only an hour, but I usually prepare in advance and do it the night before. If you can't find frozen raspberries you will also want to freeze your raspberries now too.
2) Once frozen remove the bananas and raspberries from the freezer and allow to defrost a little.
3) while the fruit defrosts place the chocolate into a glass bowl and place over a pan of boiling water. Melt the chocolate.
4) In another pan warm the 2 cups of milk.
5) add the frozen fruit, melted chocolate and warm milk to a blender and blend. If you are having trouble getting the blender moving you can leave the fruit to defrost a little more, and add up to a cup more of milk. Blend until smooth.
6) Pour the ice cream into a container and place back into the freezer to refreeze. This shouldn't take too long, as the bananas and raspberries were already frozen, around half an hour.
7) If you have time remove the ice cream from the freezer and allow to defrost a little. Place back into the blender and blend for a second time. This will get ride of all the ice crystals and give you a really smooth ice cream. However you can still enjoy the ice cream blended only once, the flavour will all be there, I just prefer the smoother texture.
8)After blending for a second time place back into the freezer.
9) Melt the remaining chocolate and use as a chocolate sauce.
9) Cut your bananas in half, scoop out your ice cream and top it with fruit, nuts, and sauce to your hearts content.