Archive for May, 2008

The following article, written by Peter Rosset, is an excellent analysis on some of the causes and potential solutions of the current food crisis. Dr. Rosset is a food rights activist, agroecologist and rural development specialist. Currently working in San Cristobál, Mexico, he is the former co-director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy in Oakland, California.

The original article, translated by Peter Rosset, was originally published in Spanish in La Jornada:

May 9, 2008

The Time has Come for La Via Campesina and Food Sovereignty

Peter Rosset

Around the world it seems more and more that the time has come for La Via Campesina. The global alliance of peasant and family farm organizations has spent the past decade perfecting an alternative proposal for how to structure a country’s food system, called Food Sovereignty. It was clear at the World Forum on Food Sovereignty held last year in Mali, that this proposal has been gaining ground with other social movements, including those of indigenous peoples, women, consumers, environmentalists, some trade unions, and others. Though when it comes to governments and international agencies, it had until recently been met with mostly deaf ears. But now things have changed. The global crisis of rising food prices, which has already led to food riots in diverse parts of Asia, Africa and the Americas, is making everybody sit up and take note of this issue.

But, what are the causes of the extreme food price hikes? (more…)

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At this year’s annual Specialty Coffee Association of America conference, we asked a group of our farmer co-operative, food co-operative, Interfaith partners, and other friends and allies to tell us what Big Change they would like to see our network accomplish over the next 20 years.

Here’s some of their responses: (more…)

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Equal Exchange was founded 22 years ago to change the way business is carried out and trade is conducted; to expand and deepen the opportunities for consumers and producers to relate to each other; and to change an anonymous, corporate-controlled food system to one in which each participant is treated with respect and dignity, and whose contribution is recognized and valued. Integral to this vision is an economic model that builds vibrant, healthy businesses and communities.

Together, we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount and have successfully paved the way for each of these goals to be realized. Through our co-operative structure, and by supporting other co-operative business models, we are building an alternative network of democratic, mission-driven businesses that place relationships above the bottom line. Fair Trade has entered the mainstream; consumers are increasingly demanding information about where their food comes from, insisting that conditions are fair for those who grow it, and increasingly see themselves as advocates for a just food system and a healthier planet.

We’ve made enormous strides. And we’re proud. We hope those of you who have walked this path alongside us share in this pride as well. But, despite tremendous efforts and accomplishments, sadly we are still swimming upstream. The world around us continues to be dominated by corporate interests and greed. Trade agreements favor the interests of multi-national corporations and treat workers and producers as objects (and their products as commodities) to be discarded when they no longer serve. Climate change is wreaking havoc on poor communities and small-scale farmers are being disproportionately affected. Taken together, these agricultural and trade policies and changing weather patterns are threatening entire communities, the quality, quantity, and price of our food, and the planet itself. We can’t really afford to rest on our laurels. (more…)

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Karisa Centanni, education coordinator at the Honest Weight Food Co-op, a member owned and operated natural foods grocery store on Central Avenue in Albany travelled with Equal Exchange to visit CESMACH, one of our co-operative partners in Chiapas, Mexico.

For World Fair Trade Day on May 10th, Karisa wrote about her impressions of CESMACH, and offered some reflections on the connections between the Buy Local and Fair Trade movements, which were published in the Greenfield Daily Gazette’s Community Blog: Greenpoint

Ruth Ann Smalley, of the Honest Weight Food Co-op interviewed Karisa, and then did further research about the relationship between coffee and the environment.  To read this interesting article, entitled, “The Birds and the Beans: Preserving diversity and promoting small farmers through cooperative coffee,”  please go to Coop Scoop.

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