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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Fair Trade Really Fair to Coffee Growers? Bon Appetit Justifies Gwyneth Cover

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2011 at 7:30 AM


Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. Fair Trade May Not Be Always Fair. The coffee blog Sprudge sent me to this disturbing story in Canada's National Post: A decade-long study of Nicaraguan coffee farmers by University of Hohenheim researchers found that farmers selling certified organic and Fair Trade beans were more likely to experience extreme poverty than farmers selling to the conventional market. The author argues that the  expensive certification process and other factors end up penalizing, not rewarding, the poorest farmers in developing countries. Are the direct-trade agreements Fourth Wave coffee roasters like Equator and Four Barrel are entering into better for farmers than Fair Trade? I hope so. UPDATE: The comments on the Sprudge post are growing, universally condemning the article for badly representing the German study. Interesting....

2. Disposable Cup Lids and Obesity. At Good Magazine, Peter Smith just wrote a post linking innovations in disposable-cup lid design to drive-through dining and soaring obesity levels. I don't do it justice by trying to summarize it in a sentence ― this is one of those blog posts that really should be turned into a New Yorker feature.

3. Bon Appetit's Celebrity Cover. Whoa, big controversy here: Gwyneth Paltrow's on the cover of the new Bon Appetit magazine. Anticipating the horror, new editor Adam Rapoport posted a letter explaining why: The magazine is about people, he says, not just about food. "So putting people on our covers is something we feel good about. It's something we'll do a few times a year. Of course, they've got to be the right people, and they've got to love food." Let's just hope the "right people" aren't as country-club white as the "real people" featured in the monthly photo spreads Bon Appetit used to run, which is why I let my subscription to the magazine lapse years ago.

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