We think it's great that awareness about Fair Trade products is growing everyday, as are the opportunities to buy them and the variety of products which incorporate this principal into their business. It's exciting that people are walking around stores with their eyes open and on the look out for that Fair Trade symbol. Often, however, we can feel a little disconnected from the people who actually make these products. Who are the people that Fair Trade benefits? Larry Bean's are staunch Fair Trade advocates and we think it's brilliant that they've made these videos telling us more about where and who their beans come from. You can find two more videos below the fold.
Although we love the fair trade principal, in practice it can prove a little more complicated. Larry's Beans would like to point out that, "Since these videos were made, some coffee co-ops that Larry's Beans trades with through Cooperative Coffees have been unable to afford FLO certification, and have therefore had to drop out of the scheme. At present, Cooperative Coffees assesses these suppliers on a case-by-case basis to see whether they can continue to guarantee fair trade standards, before deciding whether to continue trading with them. There are ongoing efforts to make fair trade compatible with smaller co-ops and family farms, as well as the bigger players."
The issues surrounding the expensive membership for FLO certification have been discussed by Nasser of Canaan Fair Trade and I have also personally seen related issues during my time in Ecuador. We hope very much that companies like Larry's Beans still continue to support small local producers, because, as you can see in these videos, it makes a great difference to people's lives.
However, it's not all so serious all of the time at Larry's HQ. They are obviously a fun loving bunch who can slip into the silly and surreal as easily as the rest of us. Check out the bizzareness below.