So I have a bit of a confession to make. I don't confess my crap enough because, Ted will tell you, I really like being right. I like my opinions to be heard and I like thinking that they are right. (And that others think they are right too. Thanks for appeasing me dearest of friends as I know you have oh so often). Even my most humble of moments aren't that humble. My intention here wasn't to confess about my lack of humility, although, hey, if I can rack up two confessions in one day, well, I may be good for the whole year. Hell yes.
My intention here is to say this: I thought I knew it all about Fair Trade USA and I was wrong.
But I don't think that's it.
I've had this naive image in my mind of a coffee picker in Guatemala who lives in bonded labor, picking coffee beans for pennies a day. Then one day, the plantation he works on gets fair trade certified. And all of a sudden he's making a livable wage. He's no longer a slave. He can send his children to school, put food on the table. Fair trade has revolutionized his world. That's not really happening. Under FLO's model, farmers must first own land. These land owner then must be organized in cooperatives. They must have governance and leadership. And then they can get the fair trade certification. That's a lot of steps to meet before getting paid a fair wage!
It just clicked for me during our interview. He's got a good point. And they've got a good plan. Read more about it on their website: fairtradeforall.com
So am I anti FLO's model with cooperatives? NO WAY. Am I pro Fair Trade USA? I think so. I think I am. Both models have a place in this movement. It's uncertain if certifying plantations is a great thing to do, but it's worth a shot.
In the meantime, say a prayer for me. I'm putting together a plan for research on the impact of fair trade on the lives of Palestinian olive farmers and I basically don't know what the hell I'm doing. And I'm trying to learn some Arabic. And we leave in 3 weeks. And it's finals for Ted and new classes for me. OMG.