Purchasing Fair Trade Coffee this Holiday? Why?

Poverty is definitely a problem that the world needs to address, but "fair-trade" and "living wage" policies are not intelligent ways of doing it ("Destitution in your cup," Oct. 2). Oversupply of any commodity will cause that commodity's price to plummet; these are the simple workings of supply and demand. Any policy that attempts to undermine them will also undermine any impetus for real change in the world. And unfortunately Fair Trade is not making a chnage nor causing change or really even helping.

Unfortunately concept and reality is not the same thing in terms of Fair Trade. So if you want to make a purchase that really helps someone that is a socially good thing to do buy one of the charity supported coffees that support orphans or homeless children. Unfortunately the logo is often just sold without any proof the end farmers are getting the extra money. Worse Fair Trade does not dictate any sort of income level for the farmers it supports - so rich farmers can benefit as much as the poor farmer. Think about this - which do you think has access or communications to find out about fair Trade - the poor farmer with no electricity or the rich farmer with TV, cell phone, computer, internet and telephone - so huge land barons and large companies can own the coffee farm and get Fair Trade certified? So in most cases you are only helping the rich get richer. Ever look at a map showing the location of where the address is of the F. T. Company. Think about this - over 90% of the Fair Trade companies are in the US?

Here is another thought. Most third world countries the people are extremely poor. Only the wealthiest people in a third world country own land. The richest of these rich own land that produces income i.e. a producing farm or mineral producing tract of land or quarry. So in that third world country by far the richest people are the ones who own a farm. True they may not be rich by our standards but they are richer by far than 95% of their fellow countrymen. So if you just focus on the 5% of certified farmers who are located in a third world in reality you are also helping the richest people in that country - the people who need the help the least.

Lastly and most disturbing is the company that markets Fair Trade. TransFair describes its logo fees as amounting to just pennies on the pound. Those pennies add up. Last year, it generated $1.89 million in licensing fees from companies that used the logo. It also spent $1.7 million on salaries, travel, conferences and publications for the 40-employee organization. And they DID NOT donate one penny to poor farmers - the farmers they are markeing to support. Now is that really Fair? Fair Trade - yea right!

So now why would you buy FT gourmet coffee? It's certainly not because its helping the poor desolate farmer you are picturing. Did you say you bought Fair Trade because the quality was better? Unfortunately just because the Fair Trade coffee costs more there is no guarantee or even standard that the quality is better. In fact the opposite is true - most F. T coffees are a worse quality. There are hundreds of coffee companies who could not sale their coffee because it was a poor quality. But that coffee company then got it certified Fair Trade and wow did the sales go up. But again nothing was done to improve its quality - all they need to do is show they are paying a higher price for the coffee - they don't have to prove who they are paying or how the money is distributed. So please check out that Fair Trade coffee before you buy them. The logo means nothing - they are easily bought. Look at their web site for PROJECTS and PROGRAMS they have implemented. Don't just read that Fair Trade means we are helping farmers - check to see what farmers they are really helping. If not you know it's just a "bought logo". Then find you a social conscious coffee or charity coffee and feel good that you are really helping people.So be careful with your holiday purchase - please be sure your gourmet coffee is more than a pretty wraping.

Isn't that cup of coffee more satisfying?

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About The Author, Boake Moore
Boake" Moore is an IT Sales engineer by trade and founded a non profit coffee company called Mission Grounds Gourmet Coffee -http://www.missiongrounds.com/ourphilosophy.php It donates all its profits and proceeds to helping orphans and impoverished children. We currently are building schools in rural China, orphanages in South America; supporting orphans in Russia and Africa. And helping homeless children in USA - http://www.missiongrounds.com