Reason Magazine has published one of the more — well, reasonable articles about Fair Trade I’ve read in quite some time.

It’s a lengthy piece and it covers a lot of angles, so it’s tough to grab a representative paragraph that doesn’t suggest the entire article has a single point of view… it doesn’t. But I was particularly struck by this observation:

“Coffee’s long history suggests that its place in any one culture is shifting constantly to meet the needs of the millions who drink it. Today, consumers are driving a market for coffee that transforms the act of drinking into a muted act of rebellion against a centuries-old system of exchange. Yet what is revolutionary about Fair Trade is not the brand’s focus on poverty but the suggestion that consumption is a moral response to inequality.”

In other words: “There are starving farmers in coffee growing lands… Buy more coffee.” Wow… that one hits close to home.

Recommended reading.

If you’re thirsty for more, you might check out the transmogrification of the GreenLAGirl site, which has in a few short months grown from a blog detailing Siel’s efforts to call out Starbucks on that company’s Fair Trade policies, to something of a Fair Trade activist’s how-to manual. In particular, see her multi-part Certification Challenges series. Good stuff.

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