15 January, 2014
Sweatshops in the Fields
The United States consumes one-fifth of the world’s coffee in a given year. This makes United States the largest consumer of coffee in the world. But how to do get our coffee? Do we grow it in the fields here in the United States? No. Like most products these days, we buy roasted coffee beans from foreign countries, for example Costa Rica, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Peru. These third world countries relay on their crops for their families survival and financial support and often these farmers are not paid enough money for their coffee and thus can not support their families and also provide a sufficient living for their workers. This can often result in having children work for low wages. Some call the coffee industry “sweatshops in the fields”.
The geographical locations in these third world countries have perfect climates and topography to grow good coffee berries to be roasted and harvested. A popular growing region for coffee trees are the subtropical regions that are rainy and dry. Also the equatorial regions are prime places for coffee trees to be planted and grown. These equatorial regions have frequent rainfall and provide two harvest seasons. The places that have these regions happen to fall in places that are third world countries and also primarily agricultural economies. Fair Trade coffee supports the farmer, ”by giving the farmer a fair price for their coffee so that they can pay their workers’ wages and still earn enough to live on.” (MacNevin). These farmers need to make a living and fair trade coffee offers an excellent solution to the problem. “Geography exercises a more profound influence than just affecting the sort of jacket you buy. Indeed, geography has influenced history, technology, economics, our social institutions and, yes, our ways of thinking. “(Cateora). Coffee shops can easily sell a cup of coffee for an extremely inexpensive price, but choose to use fair trade coffee, which will in the end cause their customers to pay a few more cents for a cup of coffee, but the way of thinking and giving is changed by fair trade. Fair trade coffee contracts take out the middleman and “makes them less vulnerable to the middlemen, called coyotes, who supply big international coffee companies.”(Hall, LA Times). Americans need to realize that we do not have the