Posts Tagged ‘food co-ops’

chiapas 2009

In March, a group of seven representatives of various food co-operatives across the country joined three Equal Exchange worker-owners on a trip to Chiapas, Mexico to visit one of our coffee farmer partners, CESMACH.

Many of them have written about this experience and have offered some very interesting perspectives on coffee farming, the CESMACH co-operative of small scale organic farmers, the role of consumers and food co-operatives, and Equal Exchange’s partnership s on both sides of the supply chain.

You can read the first few articles published (and see some great photos) here.chiapas2008

Today, I’d like to share with you two additional articles that have since been written about the trip; each one offers a different perspective and unique insights into a trip that brought new respect, admiration, friendships, and deeper levels of commitment to coffee farmers and visitors alike.

Stephanie Catlett, Marketing Coordinator of  New Pioneer Food Co-op in Iowa City, Iowa published this article in the Summer issue of their newsletter, Catalyst.

And, Kathy Piedl, Wellness Manager, at Hungry Hollow Co-op, in Chestnut Ridge, NY published this article in the Spring/Summer issue of the Hungry Holler.

chiapas 2009 kp

Hungry Holler Spring 2009 final

Let us know what you think!

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Last month we reposted an article, “From Farmer Co-ops to Food Co-ops: The Struggle for Fair Trade” written by Steve Stroup, Member Services and Outreach Coordinator at Bloomingfoods Co-op which was originally printed on their website about a difficult, yet inspiring trip a small group of us from Equal Exchange and food co-op partners took to southern Chiapas in March.

Since that time, a number of other trip participants have written their own stories and impressions about the trip and our farmer partners at the CESMACH co-op. Some have told personal stories about hiking through the community looking out into the cloud forest of the U.N. designated biosphere, El Triunfo. Others have written about the farmers and their generosity and kindness; the innovative projects and agricultural practices they are employing to protect their natural resources and obtain a more diverse nutritional diet for their families. Others have focused on the hard work they witnessed the farmers doing so that they are able to turn in the highest quality organic coffee we’ve come to expect on our shelves and in our morning cups.

Through all the stories and unique perspectives, many common themes emerge. The time is certainly ripe for consumers to learn more about where their food comes from, to demand justice for those whose grow it, more humanity and dignity in our relationships and interactions, and transparency and safety throughout the food chain. Shortening and humanizing the supply chain is one important piece of this and we’re proud of all the work our partners, here and abroad, are doing to make this a reality.

So today, we offer you links to two more articles:

  • Margaret Mills, Grocery Buyer, at People’s Food Co-op, Lacrosse, Wisconsin, has written, “Co-operation Amongst Co-operatives: The Fair Trade Difference,” published in the May issue of the Co-op Shopper:


  • Rita York, Acting General Manager at the Community Mercantile in Lawrence Kansas, gives us the first in a series of columns, “Harvesting the Truth”, which she plans to publish in each issue of the co-op’s monthly newsletter, MercNews. You can read the first one on page 9.

While you’re reading up on exciting and promising small farmer initiatives in Chiapas, don’t forget to read the account written by Nick Reid, of Equal Exchange, “(Co-operative) Value Added”, if you haven’t yet done so:

Search our website and blog, as well as go directly to CESMACH, for more stories and information.

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