Let’s have another cup of coffee
In the “Just Java” piece (Winter 2004), submitted by Co-op America, it was announced that Procter & Gamble has now begun to offer a Fair Trade coffee.

While some good behavior such as this has to be better than nothing, we at Equal Exchange were not impressed by our much larger competitor’s news. This is partly because size does matter. The size of one’s efforts often reflects the seriousness of the commitment behind those efforts.

In the case of P&G’s new Fair Trade product, we believe they can do much more. They are selling only one Fair Trade coffee, available only online, at over $14 pound. As the pioneer and leading seller of Fair Trade, Equal Exchange believes that this approach is unlikely to help farmers to the extent that we know to be possible. We know that consumers like to have choices, that they prefer to buy their coffee in stores, and that they will rarely pay $14 a pound. Our most popular organic Fair Trade coffee usually sells for under $9 a pound.

The crisis facing small coffee farmers is so serious that we encourage P&G to sell more Fair Trade coffee, despite the increased competition with us. We challenge them to match our worker co-op pound for pound in Fair Trade coffee sales in 2004.

Given P&G’s substantial power as the largest seller of coffee in the US, we believe that they have the means to place their Fair Trade coffee into supermarkets, and could do so at a competitive, yet profitable, price. I think we all—farmers, consumers, and Fair Trade supporters—would be happy to see that.

Rodney North, Equal Exchange Canton, MA

Behind the curve?
Your From the Editor (Winter 2004), while well intentioned, focused on news much older than you acknowledge and displayed an unfortunate myopia.

The piece described how “a rather remarkable story broke” concerning the treasonous White House leak to journalists asserting that Joseph Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. Although the piece is undated, “just two days before” press time for the Winter issue came months after the scandal was reported last July by David Corn in The Nation, and widely disseminated by Buzzflash.com and many other alternative news outlets, outlets similar to Earth Island Journal in political and environmental viewpoint.

Why does the editor of one of the world’s most important environmental magazines—EIJ—choose to waste a column on belated mainstream news accounts? The dutiful mainstream media are largely responsible for the disastrous blank checks given to Bush in nearly every arena of government—including the environmentally catastrophic war in Iraq—and for regurgitating the PR spin put on issues like the Orwellian “Healthy Forest Initiative” and “Clear Skies” legislation. Surely Chris Clarke realizes this.

Bush and Co. are directly responsible for many of the rapidly escalating environmental catastrophes we are now witnessing in the US and elsewhere, and EIJ should not be reluctant to “mention the US president,” especially when elections are looming.

Gabe Kirchheimer
New York, NY

Chris Clarke responds: Good points all, and of course I had seen David Corn’s work. What happened just before our print date is that the story finally gained a foothold in the public consciousness outside the anti-war left. (With remarkable speed, compared to some such stories: the media still report the “attack” on US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin as fact.)

I have no problem with preaching to the choir. I’d just like to make that choir bigger. And in order to do so, we’re going to have to spend time advancing arguments that may occasionally seem a little pedestrian to people who’ve been down that path already.

Shock and ugh
I just opened this month’s issue and am absolutely disgusted by the Tofurky ad on the inside of the cover. To use the phrase “shock and awe” to sell a “turkey alternative”—or anything for that matter—is not only in bad taste, it is horrifying. I am sure you realize that this is an allusion to the US government’s catch phrase for their bombing of Baghdad at the beginning of the war—a war that has killed thousands upon thousands of innocent people for the greed of the US government and its corporate friends.

I will contact the Tofurky company myself, but also hope that you will never allow such an ad again. We can’t create a just, peaceful, ecologically sane world by selling meat alternatives using war slogans.

Jen Barkan
Oakland, CA

The Earth Island Journal welcomes your letters. Send to Letters to the Editor, Earth Island Journal, 300 Broadway, Suite #28, San Francisco CA, 94133, USA, or e-mail them to cclarke@earthisland.org. Letters will be edited for length, grammar and clarity.

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