This year we asked our director of purchasing and production, Todd Caspersen, to conduct a critical analysis of how we think our coffee farmer cooperatives are faring. His assessment is sobering. We have decided to share it in this space, unsparing and unfiltered, believing that this level of analysis will make all of us more informed and enable us to critically assess where in the years to come we can collectively make the most progress in building supply chains that truly work for small scale coffee farmers, Equal Exchange and our customers.
Frankie PondolphMarch 12, 2018Categories:
Frankie PondolphMarch 5, 2018Categories:
There are many tangible pieces to the Equal Exchange model. Organic. Fair Trade. Small Farmers. Cooperatives. While these are all important elements of our holistic approach toward trade, the small farmer piece is critical. First and foremost, the Equal Exchange mission is to give small farmers a place in the global marketplace. This is exactly why our tagline reads Small Farmers. Big Change.
Danielle RobidouxFebruary 20, 2018
As consumers, as people, we are pretty disconnected from most of our products. We may believe a label brings us closer to the real story, but at the end of the day, labels don’t tell stories, people do. Last week, on an Action Forum webinar with Pushpika Freitas of Marketplace: Handwork of India, I was pretty floored. I felt proud to have her as an ally in this work and was moved, not only by how she told the story of Marketplace, but by how she truly honored the stories of the women she worked with. Marketplace is a nonprofit Alternative Trade and Development Organization that grew out of a small-scale venture in 1980 to help three low-income women in Mumbai, India.
Frankie PondolphFebruary 6, 2018
Last year, Deepak Khandelwal wrote critically about fair trade certification and the contradictions of its apparent success. On the one hand, fair trade food (less so handicrafts) is more widely known, with greater sales and distribution than ever before. At the same time, the pioneering Alternative Trade Organizations (ATO’s) who built the model of more just trade terms in the chocolate, coffee, tea, banana, handicraft, and clothing industries are under extreme duress. In the last decade Equal Exchange has saved three of these Alternative Trade Organizations (Oke USA, Equal Exchange UK, and La Siembra (Canada) while watching others falter and even close.
Frankie PondolphFebruary 1, 2018Categories:
In June 2017, a strike spread across Darjeeling, India and closed the entire region for 104 days. The motivation was political- a fight over identity, sovereignty, independence. In August we wrote about the fight for Gorkhaland, a movement to separate Darjeeling and surrounding areas (parts of Dooars and Siliguri) from the State of West Bengal to create an independent new state.
Equal ExchangeJanuary 16, 2018
Each January, against my own better judgement, I sit down and write out my resolutions for the coming year. I reflect on the previous 365 days, and resolve to be better and to do better. Often times, these aspirations involve food, so I research and plan how I might alter my methods of food consumption to effect positive change in my life. Food, which has become as much of a technical object as a cultural one, is an incredibly important part of our lives. In deciding how we nourish ourselves, we make decisions that are simultaneously nutritional and environmental, political and economic.
Carly KadlecJanuary 9, 2018Categories:
I often tell people that the easiest part of being a green coffee buyer is actually buying the coffee. The much more complicated and interesting part of my job is collaborating with our producer partners to work on the issues and threats that coffee-growing communities face. One of the big contemporary threats to coffee production is the aging of coffee farmers.
Ashley SymonsJanuary 2, 2018
With the start of a new year often comes reflection and resolution: eat healthier, save money, cook more. It's also really cold and dark in much of the country, which can mean increased time spent indoors. In this spirit, we'd thought we'd share some film and book recommendations from our Action Forum community.
Equal ExchangeDecember 19, 2017
For many years Equal Exchange has told the story of our worker cooperative, the story of our producer partners, but what stories make up the community of customers, activists and allies that we are building together through the newly launched Action Forum? Who are they? What are they doing out in the world? How can we begin to build one story together?
Laura BechardDecember 11, 2017
As rain drizzled down from slate grey skies, thousands of visitors took refuge inside Smith Cove at Pier 91 to attend the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle. The festival has been a staple of the city’s events scene since 2008. This year, the chocolate team at Equal Exchange participated in the festival workshops and unconference from Nov. 9-12.