Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fantasy v. Reality - Coffee

Although I'm not a coffee drinker, most people I know have a love affair with it, brewing up a pot as soon as possible upon awakening and even popping into a coffee shop during work breaks.  
macro coffee 5
What most people don't realize is that, again, unless the coffee is fair trade, a host of problems exist behind that hot cup of java.  Earlier this week, Bill and I watched a documentary called Black Gold about a coffee farmer cooperative in Ethiopia.  It seems that, even though the price of coffee has risen dramatically over the last decade or so, coffee farmers in Ethiopia continue to receive less and less for their hard labor - usually not even enough to house, feed, clothe, and educate their families.  A spokesperson for the cooperative commented that these farmers aren't looking to even buy a car or other luxury item; they just want to be able to live a decent life. 
Another problem with coffee is that child labor is often involved.  This site explains how children working on coffee plantations in Kenya are robbed of:  their health, due to the unprotected use of pesticides, the backbreaking labor involved, and infections from injuries; their education, as the work they do prevents them from attending school; and even their childhood, as they don't have the ability to run and play with their friends.  And just to let tea drinkers know, similar conditions occur on tea plantations.


EcoGrrl said...

Really digging the FvsR series you have - lots of good information for readers!

Someday you'll have to make a field trip out to Portland, as I think you'd freak out in organic happiness with all the choices we have here for fair trade, organic, local, etc.

(and they will look at you funny if you DON'T bring your own bag to checkout, haha)

Cherie said...

Thanks, EcoGrrl. I've been envious of what goes on in your area - people really get it out there. We met some young farmers here who moved from Oregon. They said they couldn't even get their feet in the door of the organic food movement because there are long waiting lists to get into farmers markets.