Editorial: Can Fair Trade Change Your Life?

Written by Cafe Campesino on Oct 1, 2007 in Editorial, NEWSLETTER |
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We at Café Campesino are very excited to announce that our good friend and Senior Program Advisor to Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Jackie DeCarlo, recently released a book that we consider a most effective introduction to understanding how Fair Trade works in a global, societal, and personal context. Whether you know a lot or just a little about the way Fair Trade works, this book is worth checking out. You can buy a copy from the Fair Trade Resource Network (www.ftrn.org), from A Greater Gift (www.agreatergift.org), or ask your local bookstore to order a copy. Read on to hear what Jackie has to say… Thank you Jackie for all that you do!

by Jacqueline DeCarlo

To me, Fair Trade can be just as important to Café Campesino customers as it is to coffee farmer partners, and not just because coffee lovers enjoy tasty jolts of java. Of course, I don’t want in any way to minimize the struggles of poverty or lack of opportunity that coffee farmers face. I know those of us who buy Café Campesino beans have a host of privileges that our friends in the coffee producing countries rarely enjoy. The laptop I am typing this article on with the help of a wireless connection is just one example. But as we make our way in U.S. society we are bombarded with messages and traditions that suggest who we are as individuals is directly related to what we own or what zip codes we have. Just as we are concerned about the human dignity of those who lack healthy food and clean drinking water, I think we should be concerned about the moral and emotional deficiencies faced by those living in a culture driven by materialism. Through conscious consumption, Fair Trade can transform the lives of folks at the end of the supply chain just as it does the lives of farmers at the beginning, and that’s why I wrote Fair Trade: A Beginner’s Guide.

The book is my attempt to explain where Fair Trade comes from, how it works, and who powers its growth and evolution. It shares facts and figures, and draws on real-life experiences and expertise of Fair Trade companies such Café Campesino, highlighting inspiring stories of average consumers and producers. Beyond offering up history lessons, role models, and action items, the book also tries to make the case that Fair Trade helps consumers — especially those of us in the United States and Canada — make sense of our societies’ drive to acquire and accumulate.

As readers of this newsletter know, when you choose Fair Trade through companies like Café Campesino you aren’t choosing just a product, you are becoming part of a movement that promotes values based on concern for people and the planet. You are involved in a partnership that benefits all the participants along the Café Campesino coffee path (which is reproduced in the book thanks to the go-ahead from Tripp!) It may sound like a lot of heady stuff steaming up from a cup of coffee, but the people and Fair Trade Organizations you’ll read about in the book are proof positive that Fair Trade changes lives. I hope you find the book a useful resource to help it expand your notion of what is possible beyond just a delicious cup of coffee!

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