Ardent Eden

Ardent Eden is a place to explore my thoughts about the interdependence of life - humanity and nature - and to engage with others for collective problem-solving.

Friday, January 06, 2006

It's Not Just for Coffee

Many people who know about fair trade* associate it only with coffee. While the benefits of fair trade in the coffee market are becomingly increasingly well-known, it's time to take another step and seek out a fair trade certification on the other agricultural imports that we regularly enjoy.

Check out this brief piece from Grist about the benefits of fair trade for workers on India's tea plantations. And since the Ideal Bite tidbit in my inbox a couple of days ago touted the slimming benefits of drinking a few cups of green tea per day, I thought that it was a good time to order up one of the organic, fair trade selections that the gals recommended. Turns out that the loose Hamstead tea is on clearance right now, so I'm also satisfying one of my 2006 goals to be frugal. Plus loose tea leaves mean less packaging. I'd say that this adds up to a good green purchase!

Bananas are another fair trade item that I've been seeking out recently. Transfair has a backgrounder on the importance of bringing fair trade to banana plantations here. Like coffee, bananas are a widely consumed product. According to Transfair, 96% of American households buy bananas regularly. That's an exciting number because there's a potential for a huge impact if even some of these households switch to fair trade bananas. Here's a list of where you can find fair trade certified fruit. After seeing the fair trade label on a bunch of bananas at our local co-op, I've been making it a point to buy bananas for my oatmeal there. (If you don't have time to peruse the list, it may be helpful to know that Wild Oats carries fair trade bananas at all of its stores. I wonder why Whole Foods doesn't follow their lead...) While I'm on the subject of bananas, thought I'd plug one of my favorite documentaries: Life & Debt. The film does a good job of showing the effects of global corporatism and monetary policy on the small island, including a segment on the banana market.

*Astonishingly, some people who you would expect to know about fair trade coffee, such as these Starbucks baristas, have never heard of it. If you would like to help increase consumer demand for fair trade certified coffee at Starbucks and pressure the company to educate its sales staff about Cafe Estima, the only fair trade certified blend served at the chain, take the Starbucks Challenge 3.5.

7 Comments:

  • At 11:32 AM, Blogger spiral said…

    Living in a small city, I think it's hard for me to understand why so much attention is given to Starbucks. I can think of one Starbucks around here, and I never take my money there--I've always associated it with being the type of corporation I don't care to support. I guess it's like the Wal-Mart thing, though: Starbucks is a big target that can hopefully lead the rest of the market and needs to be true to its market promise of having fair trade blends. Is it hard to take your money elsewhere in Boston?

    As for the other products, I'm glad you discussed teas and bananas. Next time we run out of tea or fruit, I'll definitely head to the local Wild Oats to get some fair trade.

     
  • At 2:14 PM, Blogger breadchick said…

    Will be posting this on the Starbucks Challenge later tonight BUT this morning, while dropping MBH off at the T in Harvard Square, ventured into the Starbucks on Church St in Cambrige AND low and behold, asked for a cup of Fair Trade and RECIEVED it. No question, no blank stare, no nothing. The barista was most pleasant about it, said "Oh, you want our Estima blend. It is brewed Mon, Wed, and Friday as our house coffee of the day and if you want it any other day, just ask, we'll do it for you in a french press". Maybe it is just the ultra liberal, granola crunching, left bank of Cambridge or the fact that maybe just maybe...nah, nevermind.

     
  • At 3:23 PM, Blogger lauren said…

    I do agree with you, spiral, about avoiding Starbucks in favor of local cafes. When I was in grad school, I would love searching out new local coffee shops. (I did hit the SBX on Church Street that breadchick wrote about mainly because they had soy milk for my latte.) I haven't been to a SBX - or any other cafe - for a while though as I usually end up brewing my coffee at home and taking it with me in a travel mug. Anyway, for better or worse, I think many people go to SBX because of its ubiquity and the range of coffee drinks on its menu. Some of those people may go there thinking that SBX is as socially responsible as they claim to be in their marketing. Since it doesn't seem like the company is living up to its claims, doing the SBX Challenge if you do wind up in one of their stores seems like a good grassroots way to put pressure on the coffee behemoth. That seems like a good thing considering the purchasing power of SBX. Bottom line for me: I don't go to SBX unless it's a last resort, but if I do, I'll certainly ask for fair trade coffee. Hopefully, the Cambridge mentality that Breadchick experienced in Harvard Square will become more institutionalized. Even better...fair trade will spread to the local shops and comsumers will head there.

     
  • At 10:04 PM, Blogger Roger, Gone Green said…

    SBX is a focus in part because of the purchasing power, in part because of greenie claims they have made . . .

    In any case, my favorite is FT, Organic Chocolate at Trader Joe's, including super-dark, 73% coco bars -- excellent with your own home brew . . .

     
  • At 11:25 AM, Blogger lauren said…

    I love dark chocolate! I'm partial to the Endangered Species Company's extra dark (88%!) black panther bar, but Divine, Equal Exchange, Maya are all good in my book too. I didn't think that TJ's carried fair trade chocolate bars...I even wrote a letter to them about it. Maybe it's just a west coast thing? Very interesting...I'll have to talk to the manager the next time I'm there.

     
  • At 1:46 PM, Blogger Siel said…

    Hey lauren -- You're a winner for the Starbucks Challenge 3.5 -- due to this informative and engaging post :)

    City Hippy will be sending you Clippers-Teas yummies -- You might email him your mailing address when you get a chance :) Thanks for participating, and for the great post!

     
  • At 8:17 AM, Blogger 小貓咪 said…

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