Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fair Trade

As a future (Lord willing) coffee purveyor, I constantly think about what sort of 'thing' I am offering to the public for sale. I don't want to sell a product straight from the hands of Mr. Third-World Dictator, nor from any violent revolutionaries. For the most part, I like Fair Trade coffee and what (symbolically) it stands for. In this postmodern world, though, symbols and their realities don't always mesh:

Absolution in Your Cup

Really, it goes back, I think (and the article points this out) that as 'consumers' of coffee, we should avoid being propagandized. The difficulty, though, is that we as 'consumers' are trained to not ask questions, but to believe Big Brother (whether government, church, or business). How many of us know the owners of our 'local' grocery stores? Our dairy producers? Our butchers (if we even have them!)? Chris Farley put it best when, in Tommy Boy, he talked about taking a dump in a box and slapping a guarantee on it. If the guarantee is all we are after, not the quality of the beans, the flavor, the roast, the brew, the individual farm families, then we will end up with a cup of crap.


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