Saturday, November 6, 2010

2 Birds With One Stone (Humanely)

I have struggled, as you might have been able to tell in earlier posts, with the coffee part of this whole idea. Originally, I thought this would be the easier part. I even wondered, with my focus on more ecological human rights, that if I didn't finish the coffee I already had would prove me to be wasteful and so on. And I really thought: ya know, if I throw this coffee out that I have, I would be wasting something and would be throwing away something that someone worked incredibly hard to have in my cupboard. So, for mainly environmental reasons I finished what I had at home, coffee that wasn't fair trade.

BUT then I found out that I already had another bag of coffee that was, in fact, fair trade. A friend of mine informed of that, and said that the company absolutely refused to buy anything that wasn't a few years before and it was all over the news in the UK. So...I finished that coffee too and felt better about it than the first batch. When I ran out is when the rubber truly hit the road for me.

I usually shop at Publix despite their anti-union this or that, and they are the closest to where I live. I was convinced I didn't have to drive 30 mins away to a farmers market or a whole foods just to find fair trade coffee. I was right!

It wasn't easy though. A few employees looked at me like I was nuts when I asked them if they had fair trade coffee. I even had one tell me, "Sorry, we don't carry that 'brand.'" I had to explain... I was told by multiple people that they didn't carry it, whether it was a "brand" or not. I scanned and scanned the coffee aisle looking for, trying to distinguish by color or design of the bag which one would be fair trade or organic or something--anything other than the usual.

Hilariously enough, I found that Publix's Greenwise coffee is both organic AND fair trade! My roommate was ready to kill me and sneak a can of Maxwell house in my cart just to get me out of there. I realized that I was "killing 2 birds with one stone" to use a (less humane) colloquialism. I realized that I am able to ensure that I satisfy both of my goals: of supporting the environment and supporting the labor of those who produce the products we buy in a fair and reasonable way!

Also, the whole idea that buying organic and fair trade is impracticable and expensive is, frankly, a whole bunch of BS. The coffee was on sale too! The only disappointing part was that the Publix employees had no idea that they carried it and that it was their own brand that was the only one that was fair trade certified.

I must say that the first cup of my organic and fair trade coffee was incredible. I bought it whole bean and ground it up at home. It smelled great and really was quite exciting. It was good to know that I was enjoying a product of someone else's labor in which they were getting adequately compensated--the living conditions acceptable, possibly making education a reality, and being able to put food on someone's table. At least, I hope that if I have to have my coffee, it shouldn't come at the cost of someone else's poverty. Still, I feel myself and others still have a long way to go.

I hope that by sharing this more personal story, that others can realize it as a reality and that inaction is only a perpetuation of the conditions as they are.

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