Fair Trade Coffee in Peru: An Economist's Notebook

Travelogue of a social scientist studying Fair Trade on a Fulbright in Peru. Personal anecdotes and interviews with coffee growers, importers, and exporters, as well as Andean cultural leaders, Limeña intellectuals, business people, professors, writers, and anyone else I meet on the journey. Fair Trade as both an alternative to the dominant model of globalization and as a way of life that is practiced by an increasing number of people who testify to its great benefits.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My first "field visit" and more

So I was sitting in the Haymarket Café in Northampton on Tuesday afternoon, reading over some research materials (http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/Sociology/FairTradeResearchGroup/), and writing some e-mails, when who should I hear from but Dean Cycon, founder of Dean's Beans (http://www.deansbeans.com) and pioneering local Fair Trader. I've been wanting to visit Dean's roastery for a while now. "C'mon up!" he says. So with no delay, I get in the car and drive up to his place in Orange, an hour away. (I love having a schedule that allows me to do this!) That was my first visit to a coffee roasting plant. The greatest things about it were the people and the smell. It's great to meet people who enjoy what they do, while knowing that it contributes to a larger process of empowerment and development around the world. There is something special about coffee - last I read, 100 million people's livelihoods depend on it - and not the least amazing thing about it is its global nature. Coffee is perhaps the most global of global commodities. I saw the enormous sacks of coffee, 150 pounds each, stacked up in the warehouse, all coming from a different location across the globe. The confluence of Fair Trade with coffee is no coincidence - not only because of the crisis, which is still very real, but also because of the global nature of its production and distribution. Coffee, if produced and sold right (i.e., fairly) has the potential to bring together people from opposite ends of the globe into what FINE (the Fair Trade umbrella group) calls "a partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect." There are other products that can play this function - anything handmade, for example; visit World of Good (http://www.worldofgood.com), an extremely vibrant and rapidly expanding Fair Trade crafts importer co-founded by my good friend David Guendelman. It's also my opinion that music can play this function. More about this later. In the meantime, thanks, Dean, for the tour!

I've also been having some fantastic e-mail and phone conversations with great Fair Trade, organic, and gourmet importers. Thanks to Mark Inman from Taylor Maid Farms (http://www.taylormaidfarms.com) and Gay Smith from OPTCO or Organic Products Trading Company (http://www.optco.com). More to come!


Anonymous Hal Weitzman said...

Greetings from Lima - I would be interested in meeting up when you arrive. What's your email?

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Jamie said...

hey hey, told ya I'd send you a post. I spoke with the news director at wfcr today and I told her about you today, as well as made mention of potential for publication. Anywho, check your email for her contact, I know she'd love to hear from you. She mentioned a recent story she believed wfcr just covered concerning fair trade. Anyway, hope you are safe and good luck.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Noah H. Enelow said...

Hal - my e-mail is nhenelow@gmail.com. I'll be in Lima tomorrow night and will be free any evening from Wednesday on. I look forward to meeting up. -Noah

8:15 PM  

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