Fair Trade coffee signifies that the methods used to grow, harvest and produce a coffee were done in such a way to ensure an equitable partnership between consumers and producers. The term, Fair Trade, is a certification that importers and manufacturers can receive from a third-party certifying agency by implementing and maintaining specific business practices. For the consumer, the Fair Trade label is a guarantee that coffees, teas and chocolates have been purchased from producers according to international Fair Trade criteria established by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), a consortium of Fair Trade groups in Japan, Canada, the US and 17 European countries. Fair Trade certified coffee is the first product introduced in the United States with an independent monitoring system.

Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)

See also Wikipedia for a more neutrally toned article.

The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), an expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is a regional agreement between the U.S. and five Central American countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the negotiations for the terms of which concluded in December 2003. The Dominican Republic was also "docked" onto the agreement in March 2004.

Based on the NAFTA model, CAFTA would push ahead the corporate globalization agenda that has caused a "race to the bottom" in labor and environmental standards in the U.S. and Central America. CAFTA would also include services provisions promoting the privatization and deregulation of fundamental public services.

In addition, CAFTA would remove all tariff barriers in the five Central American countries on imported agricultural products. This would allow cheaply grown and heavily subsidized U.S. corn and other basic grains to flood local markets (subsidies that almost exclusively benefit giant agribusiness in the U.S.). Small farmers in Central America, already devastated by the importation of cheaply grown U.S. agribusiness grains, years of drought, and the massive fall of coffee prices on the world market, could face the extinction of their livelihood. CAFTA would likely force a massive migration of erstwhile farmers to large urban areas to work in the informal sector or maquilas (sweatshops), or to risk a dangerous journey to seek work in the U.S.

The Bush Administration's push to implement CAFTA is part of a strategy for an expanded trade agreement, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) which would cover all of North, Central, and South America except Cuba.

For more information: http://www.citizenstrade.org

Where to get Fair Trade Coffee

ASUCD Coffee House

The ASUCD CoHo serves both organic and fair trade coffee purchased through Bean Trees. The Coffee House bakery offers Peerless coffee, but only the "Millennium Joe" blend carries the Fair Trade certification. Around the corner in the deli, one can find Pura Vida coffee that is 100% Fair Trade, organic and shade grown. You can also find Fair Trade at the espresso line and in the MU Bus circle kiosk.

"If you buy a cup of 'fair trade' at UCD, do you know how all those profits breakdown? The answer may surprise some of you."

Actually, this was very high up on our list when we were selecting a coffee company to invite to campus last April. We chose Pura Vida for practical reasons: it's 100% fair trade, so we get all the guarantees on worker treatment and environmental care on ALL the coffee they sell ALL their customers. Also, Pura Vida has a great track record on over 75 campuses (which ended up being very important in our discussions with Sharon Coulson!).

But we were also asking this same question. We chose Pura Vida because they're not only a business, but a registered 501c3 public charity. This means that the coffee company exists to raise funds for the non-profit, which runs soup kitchens, children's programs and other programs in coffee growing communities. Pura Vida also raises money for its programs from donations and grants. All this info is publicly available.

So in answer the question, if you buy your cup of coffee from Pura Vida in the deli, you can rest assured that the profits are going to coffee growing communities. We can't say the same if you buy the one fair trade blend (Milennium Joe) that Peerless sells in the bakery, though.

UC Davis Organizations Promoting Fair Trade Coffee

Other Resources

Fair Trade does not only apply to coffee. It applies to any imported product, from clothing to consumer electronics, to food. With regards to food, coffee, tea, coco, & sugar are focuses of Fair Trade discourse because most of these products are grown in the Southern Hemisphere under horrible conditions and shipped to us in the North for consumption - mikeyjnolan