Can fair trade “dance with the devil?”

October 12, 2010

Produced by Worldview

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(Photo by Jeffrey Gordon)
Shade coffee farm, Sierra Madre del Sur, Oaxaca

The fair trade movement was born in Oaxaca, Mexico about 22 years ago. Farmers weren’t being paid enough to live, so they banded together with sympathetic consumers in other countries. They created an alternative market, through which small, family farm cooperatives would be guaranteed a minimum price for their coffee. 

But these days, in some villages in Oaxaca, the majority of farmers choose not to join the fair trade system. 

Daniel Jaffee is a sociologist at Washington State University, and the author of Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival. 

Jaffee wanted to find out why these farmers opted out. So he spent time in two villages in Oaxaca between 2001-2005, when coffee prices reached all time lows.

Interested in 100 percent Fair Trade companies? Check out this list from 
Global Exchange.