This week, we hosted about 15 students from St. Joe's University to learn about the concept of Fair Trade, as well as a bit about roasting coffee. The students are from all different backgrounds and majors but all have the same curiosity in mind. What is Fair Trade and how can we make a difference? Well kids, you've come to the right place!
The students shyly walked in and quickly started asking questions. It's really nice to have a young audience who will hopefully incorporate these concepts into their own lives and share with everyone who will listen. Fair Trade is not a cult. It is a mindset or awareness of the reality beyond our purchases. We truly have the control to change the nature of what is available with what we buy each day.
We started with Joe (our owner/lead roaster) roasting a small batch of Mexican beans, explaining the process then a short talk about coffee itself. The rest of our time together focused on Fair Trade, our experience with our importers, the farmers, arabica versus robusto, consumerism, etc. Of course, we promoted Fair Trade organizations but even more that there are many organizations that have similar efforts and successes. Like reading the ingredient label on a food item, it just takes a little interest and research to learn how to be a more conscious consumer.
The Unspoken Side of Industry
Our session got into pre-harvest famine, cost of product versus individual wages and farm payments, forced child labor and the different aspects not known or seen by the average consumer. We talked about how this relates to the consumer directly and how to look beyond just Fair Trade efforts. Climate change and plant diseases affect crops, therefore affects the farmers, their families and communities for the duration of a calendar year since harvest season is about a 3-4 month window. They were surprised to hear about bananas being held in high need for fair working practices, how chocolate is a huge ethics offender and fashion is equally ignored in it's workers' exploits.
Conversation then got into general food sourcing, big farm vs small farm (US and elsewhere), genetic engineering, buying seasonally, locally and supporting small businesses. We could have gone on forever but an hour and 15 minutes was plenty to get their minds' gears turning hard and fast. Our takeaway from the session is that we had an audience of concerned young minds ready to get more info post-tour and use it for the greater good. Success!
Some of you may have read the post from last Fall regarding the Fair Trade Film Shorts hosted by Fair Trade Philadelphia. If not, we encourage you to explore the vast amount of youtube videos and full length documentaries available on the subject. Below are some great ones: