HOW about a cup of coffee and a piece of cake? Or a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate? Or even some nice, healthy fruit juice and a banana?

Choose the right ones, and you could be doing your bit to make the world a fairer place.

If only all social justice were so easy.

The secret is Fairtrade - choosing goods which guarantee a better deal for growers in developing countries, and often also with an additional social premium: a chance for children to go to school, women to keep some of their own money, greater care for the environment.

It started small, with just a few choices of coffee, but now the Fairtrade movement is gathering strength. UK sales topped £140m last year - up over 50 per cent on the year before - and can make a real difference.

"The rollercoaster of fluctuating commodity prices can have the same catastrophic effect on farmers in the developing world as a natural disaster such as the tsunami," says Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation. "While some people just watch these economic tsunamis destroy lives and communities, millions more are getting behind Fairtrade and making a difference."

Fairtrade products are now widely available. Most major supermarkets carry a decent range, particularly of tea and coffee. But the Co-op led the way and is still the biggest stockist, with over 100 lines altogether and a decent selection in all stores. Co-op stores alone sold over £24m worth of Fairtrade foods last year.

Fairtrade goods fit in well with the original Co-op philosophy of social responsibility, self-help and solidarity. "But Fairtrade food and drink usually means buying higher quality," says a Co-op spokesman. "They take greater care over their products than large farms and, as a rule, use less pesticide. For these reasons, Fairtrade products usually cost a little bit more. You would expect to pay more for a premium product, but the little extra pays for higher quality of life's basics for some of the poorest people."

To mark Fairtrade Fortnight, the Co-op has 20 per cent off Fairtrade goods at the moment, which evens up prices, but in many cases, Fairtrade goods are actually cheaper.

200g Nescafe Gold Blend coffee: £4.45

200g Co-op Fairtrade Gold Roast coffee: £3.19

Taylor's Lazy Sunday ground coffee: £2.75 for 227g

Co-op Fairtrade ground coffee: £1.43 for 227g.

Caf Direct: £2.05 for 100g

Nescafe Gold Blend: £2.14 for 100g

Tesco Fairtrade teabags: 80 for £1,73

Tesco Premium teabags: 80 for 81p

Tesco Fairtrade bananas: £1.12kg

Tesco Bananas: 74pkg

Sainsburys Caf Direct: 200g for £3.95

Nescafe Gold Blend: 200g for £41.18

Co-op Fairtrade fruit and nut chocolate bar: 79p for 150g

Chocolate fudge cake: £1.56 for 455g

And a bottle of very drinkable Co-op Cape Affinity red wine: £3.99

In an ideal world, everyone would get a decent reward for their efforts, but life ain't like that. But by buying carefully and eating and drinking with an eye on a label, we can do our bit. It won't make much difference to our spending, but it will make a terrific difference half a world away.

l Oxfam and Traidcraft have long worked for fair trade and both sell a terrific range of fair traded crafts and clothes as well as food and drink.