Who paid for that cup of coffee you had for breakfast?
You did, you tell me, and probably more than you wanted to. And you did, but the reality is that unless the bag or the box the coffee comes in has an imprint that it is “Fair Trade coffee, some farmer and his family working a small piece of land in rural Central or South America chipped in.
A fair trade stamp means that the grower belongs to a co-op that guarantees him a minimum price for his crop. This translates to decent living conditions, education, and health care for his family. The 24₵ a lb. that he might get paid in the unregulated market just doesn’t cut it. Click on stamp for more info.
Fair trade shopping can be inconvenient. Few stores carry a fair trade line (Trader Joes’ does!), and it’s never the cheapest. In fact it turns ‘bargain price” on its head…someone is paying the price for my discount, and I’m pretty sure it’s not somebody at corporate headquarters. I may have to pay a little more, but spread out over a month of cups of coffee it’s probably the dollar equivalent of a couple of Dunkin’ Donuts lattes.
The thing is that while I am enjoying my coffee there are real live people way at the other end of the production line – an anonymous farmer, his kids, the folks at the fair trade co-op who pack it for shipment. They don’t know me, and I don’t know them, but through the cup of coffee in my hand and what it costs us both, we are really, truly linked.