Fwd: [permaculture] Coffee - the true cost

Marimike6 at cs.com Marimike6 at cs.com
Mon Oct 14 16:50:30 EDT 2002

The article you passed along has provoked a few thoughts.

First, it is normal for any buyer-- you and I usually included-- to pay the 
lowest possible price for any product. That is why we all hate buying cheap 
Chinese stuff at the dollar store and WalMart. But most of us do, in fact, 
buy their cheap stuff in those stores. Manufacturing has left our shores in 
droves for this reason-- we can't compete with someone who makes $1.12 a day.

Businesses are that way too-- they are in business to strike the best bargain 
they can. They don't want to go out of business, so they buy very 

When they offer a farmer less for his crop than he has invested in it, he 
loses money-- for a year or two. But when he sees it's not going to get any 
better he converts to another crop, or to subsistence farming. Like you and 
I, he takes his business down the street.

Thus less coffee ripens and becomes market ready. Thus the buyers can't get 
enough cheap coffee to satisfy demand. Thus they have to raise their offering 
prices to compete with the rival buyers for the existing coffee.

If they collude with their business rivals to keep the price artificially 
low, people don't grow coffee for them any more. The companies don't have 
anything to put on the shelf. Thus they make less money, and have to offer a 
better price to stay in business.

So the strategy in combatting this entirely normal trend among businessmen is 
to always know when to become independent. You don't have to work for them if 
they're not going to pay you. 

In the instant you become independent, you become a business person too. And 
how you run your business is your own business (and, of course, the 

The loudest complaints against business practises frequently come from people 
who feel they can't afford to quit. Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 

Mike Elvin
Fuquay-Varina, NC
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