By choosing to buy Fairtrade, we make a huge difference in the lives of the people who work to bring us our food

ONE thing I love about being an MSP is the huge variety of responsibilities I have.

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Last week I visited Wallacewell Primary School for the extremely important task of judging a 'best dressed banana' competition as part of their Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations.

It is great to see so many of our children and young people learn about why choosing a Fairtrade product is so important.

The teachers at Wallacewell Primary, and I am sure Schools around Glasgow, enthuse their pupils about being good global citizens - a lesson I am sure they will carry in to their adult lives.

We have just passed the landmark of Scotland's first anniversary of achieving Fair Trade Nation status, and I was delighted to announce that more than 1000 Scottish Schools are now Fairtrade registered.

As a city Glasgow proudly supports the Fairtrade movement, and was declared a Fairtrade City back in 2006.

Glasgow University is only the second university to be awarded Fairtrade status in Scotland.

Each time we choose to buy a Fairtrade product, we help to protect families and communities across the world.

By choosing to buy Fairtrade bananas, chocolate or coffee, we can make a huge difference in the everyday lives of the people who work to bring us our food - and let's face it, there aren't many good causes that as are tasty to support.

The Scottish Parliament also marked Eating Disorders Awareness Week last week with a range of exhibitions and events from various groups working to raise awareness and challenge the stigmas attached to these serious illnesses.

These events were organised by my MSP colleague Dennis Robertson, who has been championing awareness of eating disorders since his election in 2011.

Last year, Dennis made an extremely emotive and personal speech about his daughter's struggle with anorexia nervosa, which sadly she lost, during his first Member's Debate, and I would like to commend him for again holding a Member's Debate and making sure that this important issue is not out of the spotlight.

During the week I spoke to Kathryn, a young ambassador in Scotland for Beat, a national organisation which provides support and a network of self-help groups to help young people and adults to beat their eating disorders.

Kathryn had battled anorexia herself and now speaks about her experiences across Scotland, helping to reduce the stigma and educate people about eating disorders.

So often eating disorders can be misunderstood as a purely physical illness, but they are a mental illness and therefore require specialist treatment.

We are lucky enough in Glasgow to have Skye House, at the Stobhill Hospital campus in Glasgow, which has been specially designed and built to fit the needs of young people with mental illnesses such as anorexia or bulimia, and to act as a home away from home.

A young person with an eating disorder will most often find that a GP is the first health professional they see when they are ill, and GPs in Scotland are now more aware and knowledgeable about eating disorders and are able to signpost young people to the right help more effectively.

I feel strongly that we have to fight the stigma attached to eating disorders, and give our young people more affection and attention rather than judging them on their illness.

As with so many other mental health issues, in particular, ignorance is not an option. Understanding and education is key.

Food and drink

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