After feeling an awful sense of guilt for EVER shopping at Walmart last week, a trip to Ten Thousand Villages in Central Park was a breath of fresh air. Ten Thousand Villages is a chain store that buys goods from artisans in other countries, sells them in the United States, and gives the artists a fair share of the profits. On Friday, I visited the store for a Students Helping Honduras fundraiser. 15% of the profits made that night went to SHH. I purchased two 12 oz. bags of Equal Exchange Columbian Drip Grind Coffee (try saying that three times fast!) Equal Exchange is a Massachusetts-based organization that trades directly with democratic cooperatives in foreign countries. They “provide alternatives for small coffee farmers by working directly with small farmer cooperatives, helping to built pride, independence, and community empowerment”. Equal Exchange buys and sells coffees, teas, cocoa, and chocolate. The variety of coffee I purchased is “known for producing a balanced cup, this distinctive coffee from the state of Caldas in Central Colombia delivers creamy body, mild acidity and subtle notes of ripe plum”. I can’t wait to try it! I purchased this 12 oz. bag for $8.00. It can also be purchased online for $9.00 (plus shipping). The product also comes in a 5 lb. size, which sells online at the EE website for $47.00.
I think organizations like Equal Exchange are very promising. Doesn’t it make sense to pay farmers fairly for their products? By making money on their own, a sense of pride is instilled in the workers, allowing them to suppor their families based on the money they earned. In a country that is so rooted in capitalist culture, we should applaud efforts such as this to help people become independent workers. Best of all, I can feel guilt-free while drinking my coffee in the mornings.