At first whiff
By the extraordinary scent wafting through the car as I drove home with several pounds of Dean's Beans, I knew this was not going to be ordinary coffee. It all began when a lovely member of my church coordinated a "buy fair trade coffee" movement. In effect providing members the opportunity to purchase organic, fair trade coffee for the same price as conventional. I couldn't resist the chance to explore a new caffeinated horizon.
Until now, I'd only understood the fundamental human rights purpose of fair trade. But thanks to my four bags of coffee (and a lot of reading), I now understand the fair trade purpose. Like who certifies it, and even the latest arguments over it. According to Fairtrade International, an association of 25 organizations worldwide, fair trade practices include fair wages (more than minimum wage), no child or forced labor, small-scale requirements, and prices set to support sustainable agricultural systems and collective bargaining. WHOA. I know. I'll give you minute.
Sniffing out successful fair trade
Ultimately, it boils down to a few regional and international organizations (below), that promote fair trade and offer third-party certification. It's up to you the consumer to determine if what a particular certifying organization defines as fair trade is fair enough for you. Heavy, I feel you.
The added bonus of fair trade coffee
And just like these beautiful coffee beans, many fair trade foods are organic, even if only by default. But the real question: Am I willing (and able) to go out of my way to find fair trade products beyond coffee? The answer for me, I'll shamefully admit, is not yet.
But that doesn't mean I can't support fair trade when possible, and become a regular member of the church coffee clan. Because the coffee does taste better - figuratively and literally. The Moka Java brew we've been enjoying exudes lovely fruity notes I've never before experienced in my mug.
A moderated approach to fair trade
So I've decided to approach fair trade the way I approach organics. Not in strictly buying only organic products, but by seeking out specific ones with a greater overall impact, such as thin-skinned fruits and earth-friendly cleaning supplies. Even by making a few fair trade choices, you can send a message to the market. And consuming fair trade makes me feel better about life in general. Even when I pair my morning Moka Java with a very indulgent, and no doubt fattening, croissant. I knew this was no ordinary coffee.