There is one thing certain in the 21st century and that is the fact that year on year things are going to get more expensive. This puts the squeeze on not only consumers – but also on producers.
And the futures market – as well as the ongoing global uncertainty around financial markets has meant that coffee growers, especially the smaller producers are really beginning to feel the pinch.
That pressure is almost inevitably going to lead to cutting corners. The corners cut can include environmental neglect or ignoring the basic rights of workers. That’s bad news for consumers with a social and environmental conscience.
That’s where Fair Trade Coffee comes in and the Spring Green Art blog shows coffee lovers what the difference is. Consumers who enjoy their cup of morning Joe are now allowed to enjoy that morning pick me up with a completely clean conscience. Fair Trade Coffee labeling means that the small producer has complied with certain requirements in terms of their impact on the larger world – and that includes a certain baseline in terms of their treatment of both people and the planet.
So how does it all work? Well the Fair Trade movement allows smaller producers to get together and enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining. It allows them to use the power of numerous parties all working together to negotiate better prices for things like fertilizer or even bank loans. And for a small producer this can mean the difference between a plot of land providing a sustainable income and one that can lead to almost certain failure.
That can make all the difference between a community in South America or in Africa thriving or not making it through the next growing season.
It’s also not just words on the packaging. The Fair Trade coffee movement is under the control of organisations in both the United States and in Europe. The guiding principles are strictly enforced – this can make all the difference. A Fair Trade product is not simply a marketing promise. It really does make a difference to the lives of real people – in real places.
However, in reality it simply is impossible for the Fair Trade movement to police every single grower. They need to apply a broad set of criteria to the producers. This can mean that not every single minute part of each and every business is scrutinized. However, Fair Trade is certainly better than the alternative. It comes at a greater cost than products that are not produced under its banner – but that 10 cents more a pound makes a real difference.
So the next time you are having a cup of coffee make certain that you are making a real difference to the world, both in terms of the environment and in terms of human dignity. That small premium paid in the comfort of either a coffeehouse or in the comfort of your own home is a small price to pay to know that you are contributing in a significant way to the welfare of others.