The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Trading Fairly

For some time now, we have been seeking a way to contribute to Developing Countries' poverty on a daily basis. Since everything costs money and contributing to something daily (even if only a little) really does add up, we wanted to do something that we knew would make a difference. We wanted to find something that we love, too. Something we could enjoy each day, while encountering this daily reminder of our blessings...and of the necessity to give back.

When you think of the majority of the population waking up each day, take away the bed head, the morning breath, and the real need to shower. What's the one other thing most of us enjoy doing first thing?

A Great Cup Of Coffee

We have been known to buy Starbucks beans, Tim Hortons tins, and at times Maxwell or Folgers has also been thrown in the shopping cart. We enjoy our coffees. Ben's been a Tim Hortons connoisseur for years and of course I worked at Starbucks and other coffee shops. We know a good coffee when we taste one. Yet, we don't want to pay an arm and a leg for just another "thing" we will be consuming.

We decided that if we could enjoy our coffee, pay maybe a bit more, but also be supporting a worker or ethical business at the same time then this could be our medium.

Certified Fair Trade is how we will drink.

But, what if we could take it one step further? What if, while enjoying our Certified Fair Trade we could also be supporting an organization that cares for Orphans? Everyday, with each sip and each bean in each bag, from one week to the next, we could help support African Orphans? Seems almost too good to be true.


What I'm learning through our adoption process is that there is this entity. A whole other world of parents and simply just ordinary people, who will do anything for the plight of the orphans in our world. All 143,000,000 of them.

I don't want to buy any old brand of coffee that claims to be Fair Trade. While I don't doubt that it is, I want to know more than that. I want to know if it is, of course, Certified. There's a huge difference between being Certified or Not.

The other thing I don't want to do is buy from some huge company who sells their Certified Fair Trade. I don't want a few cents from the several dollars I have spent on my Certified Fair Trade coffee, to go towards these workers. I want to know that they are benefiting from my purchase. I don't think it's too much to ask. I want to know that the guy I'm buying my coffee from, has direct contact with his workers...or at least with his workers' boss. It's a small world. Again, I don't think that's too much to ask - I actually think it's more of a responsibility.

It's like when that whole MADD thing exploded several years ago. We found out that Mothers Against Drinking Drivers was actually using only a minute amount of it's donations towards the actual cause. Fraud much?!

And if someone is going to tell me that Starbucks or one of these other multi-million dollar companies is doing what I'm asking for, then I'm sorry (and I can say this because it's my blog) but you are wrong. While I don't doubt that Starbucks' Certified Fair Trade or Certified Organic or Certified Shade Grown is as they claim, I also know it is a huge company and that stuff inevitably falls through the cracks. There are breakdowns in the system and I know (I truly do) that there is no way that dollar-for-dollar, the workers picking those pods are getting what they should be.

I also don't want to hear that my coffee is Certified Fair Trade and that it was purchased at fair market value in Africa. Africa is a big freaking continent. With a lot of freaking poverty. Again, I don't think it's too much to ask that I know specifically in which country the coffee was grown and picked. If I am going to pay double what I would pay for an "off the shelf" coffee...

I Simply Want To Know.

With no extra time yesterday, but determined not to buy a "generic" brand, I grabbed this. Only somewhat satisfied by what it claims on the basically is what I have just claimed I do not want to buy. However, I figured that it was better than nothing given the fact that I was in Superstore and in an aisle filled with beans of different origins, this was my best bet.

So, here are the 2 options we are contemplating...

Historically, Level Ground Trading has paid 53% more than conventional importers of coffee and 26% more than the FLO/Transfair price.

These guys are located in Victoria, BC. Yep, pretty much just down the road from us (if you're thinking globally). Plus, not only do they, (and by "they" I mean the founder and owner) visit Ethiopia on a relatively frequent basis they also go to a local Christian Church, affiliated with Qwanoes. They also support local ethnic festivals and celebrations. All of this is vital.

Gobena Coffee

In addition to experiencing the finest and freshest coffee, with each order placed, you are helping children throughout the world. 100% of the profits are being reinvested in the lives of orphan children through charity programs.

While this organization is located in Illinois, they are huge adoption advocates...having 2 of their 3 children adopted from Developing Countries. This couple is also Christian and they are hugely concerned about the care of our orphans.

The very cool thing about Gobena Coffee (other than the obvious) is that you can have it delivered to your door...all in one go or on a weekly basis. Ground or Whole Bean, it's up to you. I would encourage you to check out their site and revel in their current project. If you want a more personal spin, go grab a box of kleenex and check out the adoption video of their youngest Ethiopian daughter, Eva on YouTube. Type in Lehmanfive in the search engine and go to Eva's Adoption video. Prepare to be moved.

You can also check out the organization they support with 100% of their profits...

1 comment:

sarah said...

This is so random because Danae (who I went to school with in Illinois before moving to London) is the wife behind Gobena coffee.

Small, small world.