Winona Goes Fair Trade

Published – Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On moral grounds: Winona shops feature fair-trade certified coffee

The consensus among Winona’s coffee shops: Fair trade is the way to go.

Every coffee shop in town buys at least some coffee from raw-bean wholesalers and roasters who offer fair-trade certified coffee.

To be certified, a coffee must come from a farm that adheres to regulations that ensure a safe working environment and sustainable cu

ltivation practices, said Carmen Iezzi, executive director of the Fair Trade Federation. Fair prices are given to farmers who would otherwise be given just enough to survive, if that, she said.

Like all commodities, the price for fair-trade coffee changes constantly, but is about $1.30 per pound right now, Iezzi said.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world behind oil.

About 40 percent of the beans the Acoustic Café offers are fair-trade certified, said café owner Jerry Heymans.

Heymans roasts the raw beans in a small roaster in his Winona café and uses them in his local store and his location in Eau Claire, Wis.

Heymans thinks his college-town patrons “have a broader vision of what’s important.”

“More and more consumers are becoming conscious of supporting the global community,” Heymans said.

Mugby Junction has carried all fair-trade coffees for about a year, said owner Carew Halleck.

Before the switch, Halleck offered some fair-trade varieties, but switched to align his business practices with his moral principles.

“What you’re talking about is relationships,” Halleck said. “Not based on exploitation, but based on mutual support … and mutual benefit.”

It’s not a matter of besting competition or boosting sales, Halleck said.

In fact, Halleck eliminated some coffees because they were not fair-trade certified.

Solid Grounds espresso stand carries 100 percent fair-trade coffee, said Greg Moser, Rock Solid Youth Center executive director.

Fair-trade coffee is not sold only by the cup; some area grocers offer fair-trade coffee in bulk.

“Fair trade is a very hip thing right now,” said Dennis Zenk, bulk foods manager for Bluff Country Co-op.

Demand for fair-trade coffee has grown in recent years, Iezzi said. Sales grew 53 percent from 2006 to 2007.

Popularity isn’t the only reason to carry fair-trade coffee, said Zenk, adding that the co-op has stocked fair-trade coffee since 1999, when certification first started.

Zenk thinks it’s important to give farmers a fair return for their

product, which takes “a lot of energy and a lot of toil to produce,” and to offer farmers an opportunity to “develop themselves so they can make their lives better.” read the rest.



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