Organic fair trade coffee refers to coffee that meets both parts of this tests: it is grown organically, by a farmer who receives a fair price for his or her efforts.
When coffee is organic, it is grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers. That is fairly straightforward and means the coffee you drink has not been treated by strong and harmful chemicals in the field. It also means that the coffee farmers have not had dealt with these dangerous chemicals, and in so doing the fragile mountain environment and water supplies are more protected
Fair Trade Coffee and Social Conscience
Considering the question of fair trade coffee is a somewhat more complex.
Very simply, “fair trade” is ensuring that farmers are paid a fair price for their labor. There are two compelling reasons why fair trade is so important to embrace for sales of organic coffee.
First, coffee is the most traded commodity on the planet, other than oil. The price of coffee depends more upon the trading centers and Wall Street, than upon what the coffee farmers themselves charge and receive for their harvest. An increase is coffee prices reflects what Wall Street traders think the price should be, and the farmers themselves have very little control over the price they can charge, to cover their costs and make enough profit to improve their life.
For example, the price of coffee may stay the same or even increase. All the same time, the farmers may be paid less and less for their coffee beans, as it has been for the recent years.
Secondly, a small increase in what these farmers receive can tremendously improve their quality of life. Coffee grows only in the tropical climates, which cover mostly developing countries in parts of South America, Africa, Indonesia and a few other regions. Moreover, small farmers grow about 60% of the world’s coffee, and many of them are not paid enough to cover their costs.
Keeping the price paid to small coffee farmers low is actually a disadvantage to us, the coffee consumer. At some point, this cycle of poverty and desperation will drag down the coffee production, or move it to large corporations. Either way, coffee prices would rise dramatically, as smaller farmers lose their livelihood.
Here is where Fair Trade helps
If you are like me, you pay attention to the Fair Trade certified labels on coffee. An importer can only use that label if it meets the strict international standards.
For example, the importer must pay a minimum price per pound of $1.26 and provide much needed credit to farmers. If the coffee is grown organically, then the minimum amount paid increases to $1.41. This is current as of March 2009.
The importer also is required to provide technical assistance, such as help transitioning farmers to sustainable farming practices.
Since the United States consumes nearly 20% of the world’s coffee, we have a large role to play in ensuring that small coffee farmers receive a fair return on their efforts. When you buy “organic fair trade coffee” you help improve someone’s life, and also the ecosystem and economy of far away communities.
At Coffee Daydreams, we support buying organic fair trade coffee. Not only are you assured that the coffee has never been grown using harsh chemicals, you are doing good with each cup of coffee you drink. That should give you an even better feeling as you enjoy the gourmet coffee beans that were grown and picked half way around the world by a coffee farmer who’s life is improved by every cup of coffee you drink.