Friday, December 9, 2011

Reflections 2011: Belief

9. Which beliefs did you re-examine this year? How did your beliefs stand up against this re-examining?

I stumbled upon an article about fair trade via the internet. I didn't save the link, unfortunately. However, the main point of the article was this: fair trade creates an artificial shortage in the local supply of some agricultural products, making it extremely difficult for the poor to purchase these products. The example from the article was quinoa -- it has become a "fad food" in America, which means Americans are buying substantial amounts from Bolivian (I think) farmers who used to sell it cheaply to their neighbors. Since Americans are willing to pay more, farmers are selling almost none of their crop locally. Another issue stems from the fact that whenever a particular crop sells for a high price, overproduction usually comes after it, lowering the prices once again. Few crops can continue to sell at a high price unless they are extremely specialized -- for example, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee always sells at a high rate because it is only grown on Jamaica's Blue Mountain, but crops that have multiple growing areas, like citrus fruits, will fluctuate if one growing region has a bad growing season.

I feel like I need to do more research into this subject matter before I declare "fair trade" a total failure. I also have to wonder if enough research has been done in general into this side of the fair trade issue. I did find it pretty shocking that fair trade could possibly be hurting the very people it is intended to help, though. I've done a bit of searching, and there is an article from The Economist, written in 2006, that delves into the criticisms of fair trade. However, I can't access it without purchasing an online access pass or becoming a subscriber. I may have to look into using an online database through a public library, or combing their physical magazine collection to read this article.


Anthony said...
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Keshet said...

This is interesting--like the prompts!