Tuesday, July 14, 2009

OFF THE RECORD: Fair Trade = Peace

Today, I had the privilege of visiting Equal Exchange headquarters in West Bridgewater, MA for a facility tour and cupping.

(Above: Daniel & Mike explain the difference between the samples we tasted.)

First off, let me just say the coffee was incredible! Mike introduced us to three varieties; one from Bolivia, one from Peru, and one from Ethiopia. My favorite was the Peruvian, which had notes of caramel and maple syrup, and was incredibly smooth and light, even though the beans were a year old! (Harvest time is approaching in S. America, so EE will be getting new stock from their co-op partners in Peru soon!)

(Above: the Brew Crew form we filled out during our tasting)

More importantly, all the coffee we sampled, indeed all the coffee they sell, is certified organic and fair trade. In essence, Equal Exchange’s coffee (and their tea, cocoa, chocolates, and new line of snack foods) promote peace. How? By working only with farmer cooperatives that grow their product without chemicals that harm the earth, Equal Exchnage is encouraging farmers to work sustainably. By empowering farmers with knowledge that helps them improve their product and marketing efforts, and by offering the best prices possible to the farmers who supply their product, this company is keeping people out of poverty. As far as I can tell, poverty breeds desperation, which ultimately leads to fighting. Empowerment leads to peace.

Daniel, who arranged the tour and cupping, laid out the company mission for me thusly:
“We’re pretty much a social justice organization, using [coffee, cocoa and tea] as tools.”

If you’d like to participate in a tour and cupping at Equal Exchange, email Daniel (dsteinberg@equalexchange.coop)for more info. The next tour is scheduled for August 18th.

p.s. I’m also inspired by Equal Exchange’s efforts to keep their refuse out of landfills. You’ll be able to read more about that at Conscious Cow soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Off the Record: Communication Breakdown's Drivin' Me Mad

Hmmm... I think that's how the lyrics to Communication Breakdown go. Actually, it might not even be a song, but in my head, there's music. I just read the following quote from Deepak Chopra (who, by the way, knocks my socks off), and I just had to share it with you.

"Talking person to person can be totally misunderstood, just as on the Net. Blogs give you a chance to be misunderstood en masse - and grateful when that one sympathetic reader responds and gives you hope for the future of the mind."
~ Deepak Chopra

Off the record, I sometimes have such difficulty engaging in live interpersonal conversations. (The exception is during interviews, because I have a list of questions and it's expected I'll probe.) Deepak Chopra's words above make me laugh, because they ring true... maybe too true!

OK, sympathetic readers... your reponses are welcome!