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296. Back to school special: Fair Trade reading list

Over the past few years, I have interacted both online and off with university students and faculty who have incorporated Coffeelands blog content into their studies of agroecology, journalism,  sustainable trade, etc.  Of particular interest to university readers has been the current split in the Fair Trade movement caused by Fair Trade USA’s Fair Trade for All initiative.  As many colleges and universities start classes today, I publish a special back-to-school reading list for folks who may not have been following the story since the spring semester ended back in June.  Most entries are posts to the Coffeelands Blog.  Others are news stories about Fair Trade.  And still others are news stories about Fair Trade that cite the Coffeelands Blog.

Summer 2012: The Coffeelands Blog on Fair Trade.

The Fair Trade pilots.

  •  Guest post: The Green Mountain Approach to the FT4All Pilots. (published 2 July 2012)
    Green Mountain Coffee Roasters became the world’s largest Fair Trade coffee buyer in 2010, when it purchased over 26 million pounds of Fair Trade Certified coffee.  The person responsible for all those purchases is Ed Canty, the company’s certified coffee buyer.  But Ed isn’t only in charge of Fair Trade coffee buying for GMCR.  He is also managing the company’s pilot projects with independent smallholder farmers and coffee estates under Fair Trade USA’s Fair Trade for All initiative.  Here he shares some of his thoughts on the FT4All initiative.
  • CRS, FT4All and Pilots(published 11 June 2012)
    When we announced here that we were getting involved in one FT4All pilot in Colombia, it was the subject of lots of discussion.  But the FT4All pilot is just one of countless new ideas CRS field-tests each year in its work around the world.
  • CRS is piloting FT4All.  Not endorsing it(published 4 June 2012)
    Our involvement in the Colombia FT4All smallholder pilot was perceived by many as an endorsement of the FT4All vision.  For CRS, it is a true pilot that meets the following four criteria: (1.) We are testing an idea we believe has potential to serve poor people; (2.) We have made a time-bound commitment to work on a small scale in a single place; (3.) We are focusing on learning; and (4.) We are open to the possibility of failure.


  • 290. Em [power] ment. (published 1 August 2012)
    The future of Fair Trade may hinge on the degree to which FT4All is perceived to have fostered empowerment — a concept that is hard to define, and even harder to measure.
  • The Mainstreaming Paradox(published 28 June 2012)
    The suggestion that the mainstreaming approach may have traded off depth for breadth stimulated some lively discussion.


  • Two, three, many Fair Trades(published 27 June 2012)
    This graphic summary of Fair Trade coffee in the United States tries to show that the generic “Fair Trade” banner has hidden considerable diversity and no small amount of tension over the past decade.

Summer 2012: The Coffeelands Blog and Fair Trade in the News.

  • The Brawl Over Fair Trade Coffee.
    The Nation magazine, the progressive newsweekly that has been providing an independent perspective on American life since the Civil War, published an article titled “The Brawl Over Fair Trade Coffee” that quotes CRS and the Coffeelands Blog.  The story’s author, Scott Sherman, reaches farther and wider than any other coverage to date of the split in the Fair Trade coffee movement.  The result is a must-read for anyone who is concerned about the future of Fair Trade coffee.
  • Green Mountain Coffee Faces Free Trade Choice.
    The Burlington Free Press, the Green Mountain State’s paper of record, and has found itself embroiled in the Fair Trade debates this year.  Back in May, pioneering Fair Trade roaster Equal Exchange published this ad in the pages of the Vermont daily.  And in June, the Free Press published this article on how the state’s leading coffee roaster, Green Mountain Coffee, is navigating the changes in the U.S. Fair Trade marketplace.  We were grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the article, but felt compelled to provide a bit more context for our contributions here once the story was published.

Summer 2012: More Fair Trade News.

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