Blog

  • Frankie Pondolph
    April 18, 2018

    In November 2017, I wrote a post about the Honduran presidential election for this blog and I followed that up recently with a short update on current events in Honduras. In this blog, I asked my friend and Café Orgánico Marcala S.A. (COMSA) member Betty Perez Zelaya to join the conversation to provide context on the election, her perspective, and to share a deeper analysis of the COMSA vision. Betty is a member of COMSA, works as part of the certification team, and also manages her own farm.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    April 9, 2018

    In mid-December 2017, I wrote a post for this blog to share an update on the November 2017 presidential election in Honduras. My colleague Beth Ann Caspersen and I had planned on visiting our partners at Café Orgánico Marcala S.A. (COMSA) but decided to postpone our trip due to political unrest and uncertainty immediately following the presidential election (see original post here for more background). I was able to reschedule my trip to COMSA in February 2018 and wanted to share an update on the political situation in Honduras. Next week, I will post an excerpt from an interview with COMSA member Betty Perez Zelaya with her perspective on the elections, the impact on COMSA and its members, and a broader look at what COMSA is trying to do in Honduras.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    March 26, 2018

    On Wednesday, February 13, a delegation from Equal Exchange and the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) arrived at Cooperativa Zacarias Padilla in the coffee-growing village of Quibuto in the mountains of northern Nicaragua.The Zacarias Padilla cooperative, founded in 1992, has 61 members: 18 women and 43 men. It's a "primary-level" co-op; members market their coffee through the secondary-level PRODECOOP, which serves as processor and exporter for small-farmer groups.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    March 12, 2018
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    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 Pondolph
    March 5, 2018
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    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 Robidoux
    February 20, 2018
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    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 Pondolph
    February 6, 2018
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    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 Pondolph
    February 1, 2018
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    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 Exchange
    January 16, 2018
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    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 Kadlec
    January 9, 2018
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    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.

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