Friday, November 07, 2008

Fair trade coffee or not

A discussion at Jesus Creed on whether it's really better to buy Fair Trade coffee or not. I'd like to keep an eye on this, because we do buy Fair Trade - thinking it's better for the growers. But maybe we keep using that word and it doesn't mean what we think it means.


Jim said...

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.

Isaac Horwedel said...

I agree. Most of the problems people have with Fair Trade are actually problems with FREE trade/"The-Market-Will-Just-Fix-Everything" mentality.

A good documentary to watch is "Black Gold." While it doesn't really talk about some of the negatives of fair trade, it puts A LOT of perspective on the coffee business and shows just how hard it is (impossible?) to compete in the free market while actually caring about people.

I don't think Fair Trade is perfect by any means but it is at least better than nothing. Also, companies like Alliance Wolrd Coffees aren't technically Fair Trade but are "Fairly Traded" which just means they probably don't have the cash it takes to be a legit Fair Trade company.

All in all I think the worst thing we can do is just not research the things we buy. While Fair Trade might not be perfect, just going to the store and picking out any random big business coffee IS doing damage.