Why Now is the Time to Start Drinking Fair Trade Coffee
Why Now Is the Time to Start Drinking Fair Trade Coffee
by Kelsey Timmerman
This was one of the thoughts racing through my head as I straddled a shivering coffee tree on a steep, crumbly volcanic mountainside in Colombia's Narino district. However, mostly I was thinking: "Don't die! Don't die!"
The "grande gringo" as I became known to my coffee farmer hosts did not fall to his death, but, following my visit, coffee prices did.
In 2012, while I traveled to Honduras and Colombia researching my latest book Where Am I Eating? An Adventure Through the Global Food Economy, the global price for a pound of coffee beans stood at $1.60. By November of 2013, prices fell to $1.00 per pound -- a six-and-a-half year low.
When I read the reports of the low prices, I couldn't help but think of Felipe Ordonez, the Colombian farmer who allowed me to molest his trees. Felipe is a wiry man who bound up and down his sloped mountainside of coffee like a billy goat. Like other farmers around the world, Felipe was concerned about the changing climate. (On my global farming adventure, I met farmers on four continents and not a single one of them was a climate change denier.) His crop, facing wetter wet seasons and drier dry seasons, was threatened by coffee rust and beetles.
Coffee was how he fed his family. Coffee was how he sent his kids to school. Coffee was everything to Felipe.