Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Last Food Blog!

For my last food post, I thought I would talk a little bit about the topic of my research paper.  

My paper focuses on Fair Trade Coffee and how effective fair trade really is for coffee farmers, focusing special attention on the effect it had on coffee farmers in Nicaragua.  

Coffee is one of the top commodities in the world.  It is not only important in terms of consumption, but it also keeps many small farmers in business and employs many people in third world countries.  

The majority of the world's coffee farmers currently live in extreme poverty.  The price per pound of coffee is very low and does not produce enough income for these farmers and their families.  Fair Trade was founded in order to help these farmers receive fairer wages for their product.  Fair Trade acts as a sort of "middle man" for the coffee industry, working to mediate prices between the producers and the consumers.  

Fair Trade is more complicated than it lets on and although companies love to advertise their use of fair trade coffee, these movements only make up less than 1% of the total coffee produced globally. It is not yet on a large enough scale to pull coffee farmers completly out of poverty. 
The Fair Trade cooperation needs to grow in terms of how much money they put into their projects and in how much they are raising public awareness. The majority of Nicaragua relies on coffee harvesting for jobs, and if there is not enough money put into the industry, they do not have any way to support themselves. 

It is also important to make sure that all products you buy are Fair Trade CERTIFIED and not just "fair priced" or "fair waged" as these products do not have the Fair Trade label and its profits will not necessarily  benefit the farmers and their families who have produced this product.  

In case you do not know what the Fair Trade certified sticker looks like here it is below: 

Things are looking up in the industry, however:

According to the latest Coffee Impact Report released by the Fair Trade Cooperation, more Fair Trade coffee was imported into the US than ever before and Nicaragua brought in 16% of the United State's coffee supply, just behind Peru.  This is good economic news for Nicaraguan coffee farmers: more money is being infiltrated back to these farmers and their families. 

The Fair Trade coffee cooperatives are also expanding the amount of farmers that can join Fair Trade cooperatives and creating stronger ties between villages by giving back more money and building new schools, health centers, and office buildings.

For more information on the Fair Trade Coffee Impact Report, please visit this site below: 

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