Dean Cycon has long believed in using business to promote social justice, and Fair Trade is his bailiwick. As founder and CEO of Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee, he’s helped small coffee farmers around the world get a fairer price for their product. From Papua New Guinea to Peru, he’s helped farmers build cooperatives and establish educational and health programs for their families. And perhaps most importantly, he’s listened to them — the stories of their lives and their work. He’s put his experiences together in a terrific book called [amazon-product text=”Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee” type=”text”]1933392703[/amazon-product], which won a 2008 Gold Medal for best travel book from the online magazine, Independent Publisher.
Last week, the price of corn rose above $7 a bushel on the commodities market for the first time, and soybeans rose sharply, too, reacting to the harsh weather hampering crop production across the US Midwest. Soaring global demand in addition to the increased use of corn for ethanol, an alternative fuel, have shrunk the worldwide supply of staples that are the core of practically every continent’s diet. Meanwhile, the price of oil has jumped, raising the cost of producing crops and feeding livestock and causing an increase in grocery bills here and abroad, sparking riots and protests in at least two dozen countries. CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks about this global food crisis with Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved. Patel is a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and a researcher with the Land Research Action Network as well as the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
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Dean Cycon of Dean’s Beans Organic Fair Trade Coffee Company comments on the link between climate change and coffee as experienced by indigenous Arhuaco coffee farmer Javier Mestres in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Colombia.
Seth Petchers, Oxfam International’s Make Trade Fair campaign coffee lead, discusses how Starbucks opposes Ethiopia’s bid to trademark its renowned regional coffee names–Sidamo, Harrar, and Yirgacheffe.
Dean Cycon, founder of Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company, discusses problems with the trademarking solution, and how appellation (the system by which regional wines such as Champagne and Bordeaux protect their exclusivity) represents a better solution in his mind. He also discusses Fair Trade as an important part of the solution, while also identifying limitations of Fair Trade in achieving truly ethical and sustainable trade.