If your house is like mine, your oven has been in regular use the past few days baking pans of Christmas cookies. Sugar cookies, gingerbread, snickerdoodles, oh my! So what are you going to drink to wash down all those cookies? My guess would be coffee or hot cocoa.
Those are two items we just can’t grow here, but by purchasing fair-trade certified coffee and cocoa, we can ensure that small, family farmers can make a living. Rather than lining the pockets of Folgers and Maxwell House (owned by Proctor & Gamble and Kraft Foods, respectively), who often pay farmers less than the cost of production or else buy up large tracts of land in developing countries in order to grow the beans themselves, we can help create sustainable communities with our buying power.
The most common fairly traded coffee comes from Equal Exchange, an organization that certifies and markets sustainably grown, fair trade products. Custer County Market also sells several varieties, which is where I usually buy mine. Look for the bright yellow bag and Equal Exchange logo where you shop. If you can’t buy it at the store, you can also order wholesale online or check with your local churches. Equal Exchange has partnered with various church organizations all over the country, such as Lutheran World Relief, the Presbyterian Coffee Project, Catholic Relief Services, and the Methodist Coffee Project. Call your local church to see if they participate; if they do, they probably have products for sale. For more information, visit http://www.equalexchange.coop/ for more information. There are other fair-trade certified brands as well, and some companies, such as Dry Creek Coffee in Hill City, offer one or two fairly traded varieties.
This Christmas season, please do your part in creating a healthier, more just food system.