I saw a very moving program on PBS last night - in the background at first, as I read a new book & puttered around the apartment. Slowly, however, I began to pay more attention & ended up transfixed. The show was called Black Gold and it was produced by Independent Lens. Essentially, the filmmakers explored the international coffee trade & found some dirty secrets. There are some shades of grey, but to sum up - coffee farmers in third world countries (Ethiopia, in this case) are suffering because large corporations are not paying a fair price for their coffee.
Since no one I know is the CEO of a large coffee corporation, I can't make a difference that way. However, there is something that I can do, that we all can do: buy Fair Trade coffee. And not just coffee, really. Buying any Fair Trade products is one way that consumers can help raise demand for products that are produced in a sustainable way. I'm sad to say that I saw many more Fair Trade products for sale during my time in the U.K. than I have seen here in the States. But shops that carry Fair Trade products are out there. Here is a way to find a Fair Trade retailer near you.
By the way, the reason I was watching PBS alone on a Friday night (not that there's anything wrong with that!) is because Nick is away this weekend - at a bachelor party (boo! hiss!). However, since I usually spend most weekends at his place, this has been a lovely excuse to putter about the apartment in my PJ's - sleeping when I want to, reading when I want to, and not showering at all! He gets back tomorrow, so I'll have to motivate myself somewhat. Ah well - it was nice while it lasted! ;)