[permaculture] fair trade ain't necessarily either (was Trader Joe's)

Mitch Triplett mtriplett at bctonline.com
Thu Jan 27 10:41:13 EST 2011

I highly recommend listening to the program at the following link.  Summary:
"Fair trade coffee, fair trade products -- we're told to buy these items
because the extra amount we pay at the register goes to improving the lives
of agricultural laborers abroad. But does it? Sarah Besky has done extensive
fieldwork on fair trade-certified tea plantations in Darjeeling, India. And
Mark Moberg co-edits a volume that features Besky's case study and many

Although the author of the Darjeeling study concedes that there are
instances where the 'fair trade premium' does make it back to the ag
laborers (e.g., some cooperatives), the ag workers in Darjeeling get diddly.
All the money goes back to the plantation owners, who mostly use it to pay
for things they are mandated by law to provide anyway.


As an aside, Against the Grain is a great program.  Do yourself a favor and
subscribe to the podcast (I am not affiliated with the program in any way).


Mitch Triplett
Tri-Pearl Family Forest
Associate Member - FSC

-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Jim Helwig
Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 1:50 PM
To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Trader Joe's

It may well be that TJ has inexpensive foods, but perhaps only if you look
at immediate dollar outlay. The same can perhaps be said about the food
isles at Walmart. But what is the true cost to the environment, local
producers, local economy, tax payers, etc.? It seems to me that the produce
prices at my local farmers market are always higher than the local chain
grocery but I choose to buy local because I believe it is better choice for
many reasons. Films like King Corn and Food Inc document some of the ways in
which the price we pay for food does not reflect the true cost.

The old adage still applies: there's no such thing as a free lunch.
Regretfully, fair trade/locally produced/sustainable/certified organic
options all add to the cost. :-/

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