Sunday, December 18, 2005

Trade, Bono, and Coffee

I turned on my computer today to find many things happening in the world. First, I was pleased to see that Time magazine announced it's "Persons of the Year" and they are no other than Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono! I have to say, that I am happy that Time decided to recognize the good work that these three have done this year in terms of humanitarian work. The Gateses have donated so much money to global health and Bono is the voice of so much concerning AIDS, debt relief, and poverty.

Also, the WTO voted to end farm subsidies by the year 2013 . While this was not the 2010 deadline that many people and countries were hoping for, it's something I suppose. I have to admit, I didn't know a whole lot about free v. fair trade until these past couple of months. I knew that fair trade is what people talk about and push for, but I wasn't exactly sure what all went into it. Luckily, I had the chance many times this past semester to learn about fair trade and what it means. I just ran across this article, written by an Aussie, that puts it into words better than I can.

This past Wednesday at our Amnesty International meeting we talked about corporate responsibility and what it means. We met at a local Starbucks and met with the manager about what his store, and Starbucks as a whole, is doing regarding these issues. He brought up several good points about the whole fair trade stuff. For instance, the term "fair trade" is becoming somewhat of a marketing ploy for companies. They know that people will buy their product if they stamp it with "fair trade." Are they now providing fair trade products because they believe its the correct thing to do, or because they know that they can make money from it? Also, many products are fair trade, or partly fair trade, but because of the rules behind calling something "fair trade" it might not always say it on it. It was really interesting to hear Matt talk about it all from a business standpoint.

He also talked a lot about the importance of relationships that business people need to have with the people they are buying from, such as the farmers. They need to know where their coffee beans are coming from and have a relationship with the people who are growing the products they are buying.

We got to taste some of the fair trade coffee and even though I'm not the biggest coffee fan, it was pretty good. I had two mini cups and I was jittery. I have such a low tolerance for caffiene it's sad.

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