Thursday was the National Day of Action for Fair Trade Coffee. Two students organized a campaign to dish out free ‘fair’ coffee samples and messages of awareness at the Lory Student Center Plaza.
“America is not just about greed,” said Chris Mayer, natural resources graduate student and Peace Corp Volunteer, yesterday as he sipped a fair trade coffee sample in the early morning sun.
Alina Mendoza, spanish major, and Ed Lawson, anthropology and economics major, head a division of the student group Finding Racial and Economic Equality that focuses on fair trade and is fighting to make fair trade coffee the exclusive coffee served at CSU.
A fair trade system offers high quality products to consumers in the north while establishing consistent and fair prices for developing producers in the south.
Americans consume one-fifth of all the coffee in the world and coffee is the second largest import in America, oil being the first, reports Global Exchange on their Web site www.globalexchange.org.
“I was a Peace Corp volunteer in Honduras and it impressed upon me how unfair the system is,” Mayer said. “I saw that there were a lot of inequalities among coffee producers.”
“Before I went into the Peace Corp I drank brands like Folgers and Hills Brother’s coffee,” Mayer said. “Now I drink fair trade and it’s superior in taste and in quality of production.”
Fifty percent of all the coffee produced in the world is purchased by Proctor and Gamble, Kraft, Nestle and Sara Lee, who make brands like Taster’s Choice, Hill’s Brothers and Folgers, Mendoza said.
“They’re only paid about 0.25/lb of coffee produced and that doesn’t meet their cost of production. Fair trade certified coffee pays at a minimum $1.26/lb, so they’re able to pay for things that we take for granted, like education and medicine.” Mendoza said.
Georgetown University recently went 100 percent fair trade, meaning all the coffee served on campus is fair trade certified, Mendoza said.
CSU students and faculty may have had their first taste of fair trade coffee Thursday while listening to volunteers and the light hum of Latin American music.
“I think all the coffee on campus should be fair trade, the freedom of the consumer is at risk,” said Rebecca McDannald, political science major.
Java Plaza, a local fair trade roaster and coffee house, 123 N. College Ave., donated 3 lbs. of fair trade coffee for the CSU event.
Nicaraguan coffee was served from Lawson’s winter break trip, where he worked with a coffee cooperative called PRODECOOP through Global Exchange.