Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How Much Do I Love My Coffee

Christian and I recently started watching a PBS series called, Independent Lens. I am totally addicted to it and highly recommend it. My recommendation comes with a caveat, however, if you are a champion of those who are taken advantage of, those fighting against injustice, and those whose voices desperately need to be heard, it might give you a case of good old fashioned 'heart hurting'. The episode we watched tonight, Black Gold, tells the story of Ethiopian coffee farmers and their fight for a fair trade. It is heartbreaking and, because I am a coffee whore, gut-wrenching.

I haven't figured out how it is going to work yet, but sometime soon the family below will be a 100% fair trade coffee family.


We switched long-distance service to Working Assets for socio-political reasons (okay, and for the ten free pints of Ben & Jerry's) and I enjoyed explaining to the Bell South representative during her monthly phone call - pitching the newest and cheapest deal - that I didn't actually mind that I paid more for my long distance service, that it was a choice I made and it had nothing to do with economics - obviously. At some point I understand that being a 100% fair trade coffee family might be completely cost-prohibitive, but I have to try. I just wish that more people in the world were willing to act out of altruism and not greed. The world would be a vastly different and much more beautiful place.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am 100% free trade, not fair trade, coffee. If coffee bean growers think the going rate for a pound of coffee beans on the world market is not high enough, they can do something else for a living, no different from any other job on the planet.

Julie Vaicius said...

But that's just it, they aren't necessarily quibbling about the 'going rate'. In this particular instance (Black Gold) it has more to do with the farmers' lower market power. Coffee prices are low but retail sales are high, people are making money, the farmers just aren't seeing any of it. I won't drink Sanka because it tastes like garbage and I will drink Fair Trade coffee because, at the end of the day, nothing tastes better than a heaping cup o' social responsibility, whatever the price. I believe there is a market for socially conscious goods.

Anonymous said...

Social responsibility does come at an economic cost, but, as members of the most privileged society in the world, we are charged with the duty to take any steps possible to share in the burden. Thanks, Julie, for pointing out that we can do small things to contribute to a far bigger picture than our personal worlds. Honestly, when we all spend small amounts of money on the day in-day out frivolities of living each day, what is the significance of a couple of dollars extra for fair trade coffee or energy efficient light bulbs? Thanks for such a great post today!

Christian said...

Anonymous 1, You are pretty judgemental and self-righteous behind your anonymous tag. We aren't saying that we will only drink fair trade coffee, we aren't saying YOU should drink fair trade coffee, all we are saying is that we are going to make an effort to consume more fair trade coffee. If you are such a great defender of free trade then lets get rid of government subsidies and see how much you love free trade.

catherine said...

Que exciting! I had some friends make a similar decision a few weeks ago after watching Black Gold. Some tips they found out are: Bucks County coffee, which I think you can get at Sav-A-Center, is fair trade and not that much more expensive than, say, Community. Also Mojo Coffee House is a great place to support because all their coffee (and tea and other stuff) is fair trade, and it costs the same as going anywhere else. Also-- if you're in the mood to watch sometimes-gut-wrenching-sometimes-totally-inspiring movies about injustice and resistance the world over, check out the Human Rights Film Festival (www.nolahumanrights.org), which starts tonight and runs for the next 12 days, all over the city! Love love love,
neets

R. Eustis said...

I think anonymous should drink fair trade coffee. I think all coffee should be fair trade coffee so he/she doesn't have a @#$%ing choice.

I get it when I have the cash, which admittedly, is not all the time. But sometimes I feel pretty flush. And a lot of the places I stock up on beans when I'm out west are fair trade roasters. (Not to mention the small batch stuff I get from my Costa Rican buddies now. Ecofriendly all the way.)

If anonymous were 100% free trade on everything he would be in a LOT of trouble, as Xtian points out.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christian. Anonymous 1 here. I didn't criticize anyone for drinking fair trade coffee, and I didn't suggest that the original post said that everyone should drink it. I simply point out that the law of supply and demand does not necessarily equate to an "injustice." The coffee farmer can charge whatever he wants to for his beans, but if he charges more than the next guy, there's nothing unfair about a coffee maker buying from the next guy who's less expensive.

Anonymous said...

To Christian and R. Eustis, I'd be happy to end all government farm subsidies. Anonymous 1.

NOLAcathie said...

How on earth would I ever know if the coffee essence I buy at the store is fair trade? My guess is that it isn't. I'm too impatient to drip my own and I'm hooked...Oh no.
Also a list of the fair trade coffees that are sold in N.O., in addition to Catherine's, would be most welcome.