One of the coolest aspects of Fair Trade, in my opinion, is the emphasis it places on demystifying the supply chains of the products we consume on a regular basis. Fair Trade shortens supply chains and reveals to both producer and consumer who is on the other end. In a lot of ways, it takes trade back to a nostalgic time when the exchange of goods happened with real life interactions between buyer and seller.
For many Fair Trade products, if you wanted to know who grew your coffee or sugar or cotton, you could actually find out!–a task that would take a team of investigative journalists in a conventional supply chain. And if you had the time and the means, you could even choose to visit and work side by side with some of the farmers who grow the products you consume. (Global Exchange leads Reality Tours for trips like this, and our Online Editor Andrew has pooled his vacation days for the chance to work on Fair Trade rice and olive farms).
While its fun to daydream about throwing our responsibilities and ever-beeping technological devices to the wayside in order to work with our hands in the company of wise farmers in the beautiful mountains of Guatemala its not (sigh) something we will all get to do.
But, thanks to modern technology, we can, for the next two weeks, live vicariously through a team that is doing just this! Matt Earley and Chris Treter, long time social justice advocates and coffee aficionados, (now both Green America Business Members: Higher Grounds Trading Co and Just Coffee) have composed a team to travel through the coffee growing regions of Central America. From January 2 – 14 the crew will be visiting coffee cooperatives in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua to learn was it working will and what could be done better. And, they will be sharing all they learn on their blog, the Fair Trade Chronicles.
By the summer of 2013 you can even experience their trip with your eyes and ears when they release their planned documentary – Connected by Coffee – a film produced in partnership with Stone Hut Studios. (Watch a preview here)
So go ahead, brew up a pot of your favorite Fair Trade coffee and sip it slowly as as you read about the team’s adventures, mentally float to the origins of coffee, and learn how indeed we are all connected by trade.