Monthly Archives: June 2012



Fair Trade and its impact on impoverished nations.
By Edwin C. Mercurio

“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” Dom Helder Camara

Fair trade advocates told a European Union Conference that fair trade works. “It works for the poor people; it works for consumers. It works as a business model; it works as sustainable development; it works to protect the environment; it works as an idea.” reports the Fair Trade Advocacy Newsletter.

But there is growing concern about the theory and practice of the Fair Trade movement. Despite its anti-capitalist rhetoric, it is seen as a revised form of free trade controlled by the G8 and economically dominant countries,which are continually held responsible for global trade injustices.

Fair trade is often presented as a fair way to help banana growers. However, the dominance of corporate power – Del Monte, Chiquita and Dole – leaves poorer farmers and nations with an uncertain future and destroyed ecosystems. Their dominance is built on the exploitation of lands and workers from developing countries.

There are indications that fair trade is used as a cover by transnational corporations to expand their corporate interest. Even more disturbing, according to Matthias Schmeizer of Institute Fusoziale Dreigliederung, is how Nestle (known as 2005’s “least responsible company” worldwide and one of the four big coffee roasters responsible for the coffee crisis which impoverished millions of producers) prides itself of launching a “Fair Trade” brand in Britain.

Consumers are willing to pay more for goods produced in a fair and less exploitative manner. However, questions remain about fair trade and the observance of fair labour practices.

In 2006, British consumers spent more than £290 million (approximately $450 million Canadian) on Fair Trade goods as sales (bearing the distinctive green, black and blue logo) continue to soar.

A report published by Adam Smith Institute claims that “Fair Trade”methods actually sustain uncompetitive farming practices rather than encourage the development of modern techniques or industrialization. In addition, payment structures put in place by the Fair-trade Foundation “unintentionally encourage farms in developing countries to take on labourers only during harvest time.” Seasonal sugar plantation workers in Asia are the most exploited. They toil under harsh labour conditions with low wages, no medical benefits and housed in crowded and filthy living quarters.

As consumer demands grow, ecological balance and food crops for the world’s poor in underdeveloped countries are depleted and replaced by the Fair Trade goods demanded by Western and European consumers. The environmental impact of planting a single crop such as coffee, corn, papaya, cacao, banana and sugarcane on wide swaths of land is economically and environmentally disastrous as well as unsustainable. Any collapse of this “mono-crop” farming method due to overproduction, weather disruptions and pest infestations will bring untold misery to producers and farmers.

One of the worst cultural victims of fair trade are the indigenous peoples. Many cultural heritage and heirlooms of various indigenous peoples around the world are in danger of extinction. Traditional artifacts, musical instruments and ornaments made by tribal peoples from the rainforests for spiritual and cultural ceremonies and rituals are mass produced and converted into commercial items for profit by “Fair Trade” shops in Europe and North America.

Fair Trade aims to help some farmers and producers. In some cases, however, it prevents third world peoples from liberating themselves from the bondage of poverty, dependence, underdevelopment and transnational companies’ exploitation of human and natural resources.

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Indigenous artifacts made by T’boli Tribe of the Philippines.

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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Uncategorized



Coffee drinkers reassured about health risks

CBC News

Posted: May 16, 2012 4:58 PM ET

Last Updated: May 17, 2012 11:41 AM ET

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Coffee drinkers can be reassured about the health risks of enjoying their cup of java, doctors say.

In a study of more than 402,000 men and women aged 50 to 71 in the U.S., researchers looked at the association between coffee consumption and mortality.

Compared with men who did not drink coffee, those who drank six or more cups a day had a 10 per cent lower risk of death, Neal Freedman of the nutritional epidemiology branch at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and his co-authors reported in Wednesday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Our results provide reassurance with respect to the concern that coffee drinking might adversely affect health,” the researchers concluded.

Participants who had cancer or cardiovascular disease when the study began were excluded from the analysis.

Coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds besides caffeine that might be important to health.

Coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds besides caffeine that might be important to health. (Adeel Halim/Reuters)The 13-year long observational study could not conclude if the inverse relationship between between coffee consumption and mortality reflects cause and effect, the authors said.

The beverage contains more than 1,000 compounds besides caffeine that might be important to health.

“There continues to be no good evidence that coffee drinking is harmful in really any way,” said Dr. Martin Myers, a cardiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

Myers’ research concluded caffeine doesn’t increase blood pressure or cause heart rhythm problems.

Coffee and cancer

In previous studies, heart attacks were actually related to smoking rather than coffee. The latest paper also showed significant interactions between smoking and coffee consumption for risk of death from cancer.

There was an association between coffee consumption and deaths from cancer in men.

“It is not clear to us why there was a modest positive association in men but not women in our study,” Freedman said in an email. “Differences in men and women for this outcome could reflect chance, as previous studies have generally not found an association.”

Regular consumption of coffee might be helpful for Type 2 diabetes and perhaps cardiovascular disease and it doesn’t do anything for cancer, said Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard University in Boston, who reported similar mortality findings in 2008.

Coffee drinkers also tended to smoke, drink more than three alcoholic drinks a day, eat more red meat and showed less healthy behaviours like engaging in vigorous physical activity compared with those who did not drink coffee.

Consumption increases

The researchers asked whether coffee drinkers had caffeinated beverages more than half the time but they did not collect data on how the coffee was prepared.

At a coffee shop in Toronto, patrons were pleased to hear the news.

“I just worry about drinking too much caffeine and being sort of addicted to it,” said Jack Mesquita, who normally drinks three or four espressos a day and sometimes has a cappuccino or coffee.

“It is going to encourage me isn’t it?” he said with a laugh.

Another customer, Christopher Gonzalez, doesn’t have more than two cups a day and says lately he’s been trying to stick to one, mostly in the morning to help wake up.

“Coffee itself in my opinion is not bad for you at all,” Gonzalez said. “But sugar is and I can not take my coffee without sugar or sweetener so that’s the only reason I limit it.”

Coffee consumption increased to 90 litres per person in 2009, an increase of 14 litres per person compared to 1989, according to Statistics Canada.

The research was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s division of cancer epidemiology and genetics.

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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Uncategorized



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In a study presented Tuesday at the American Chemical Society’s spring national meeting in San Diego, 16 overweight young adults took, by turns, a low dose of green coffee bean extract, a high dose of the same green coffee supplement, and a placebo. Though the study was small, the results were striking:Subjects taking the full dose of the green coffee extract lost an average of 17.5 pounds in 22 weeks and reduced their overall body weight by 10.5%!

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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Uncategorized



How Do We Get Coffee, Anyway.

It is daybreak and you automatically extend for your initial cupful of coffee.  Coffee has become an inherent component of day-to-day diet in numerous societies, particularly in the United States and one barely ever devotes a thought to how tasteless coffee beans are transubstantiated into an fragrant drink with heavy flavors that are so well-known.  Before getting the state in which coffee gets to the table, the coffee bean and its seeds go through a series of processes that take a reasonable amount of human labor that make a coffee what it is.Coffee beans

As expected, the first job in the attempts to create coffee beans is to pick the fruit from the shrubs or the trees, depending on the species in question. It is done in big orchards and mostly by hand. The beans are then de-fruited and assorted. In a few cases the berries are even aged, for it’s believed to bring a more ripe aroma to the beans. While the picking of the berries, de-fruiting and maturing are crucial components of the whole process, it is the following step that’s the most essential – roasting. It’s this method that transforms the bland berries into a drink that the world enjoys and relishes.

This is one process that calls for a reasonable quantity of skill and the temperature, evenness of heating, total of time provided roasting and other such parameters can bring in all the difference between a great coffee and a awful one. Even though several species have different characteristics and several are less pleasant than the others, features like fragrance, flavor and taste are determined by the technique of roasting and consequently utmost care and finesse needs to be sustained during this work.

The procedure of roasting is really a complex chemical action where heat acts as a catalyst to boot off a chemical reaction. It transforms the carbohydrates and fats into fragrant oils like Caffeol and takes out the moisture and CO2 in the beans. The formula also breaks down and constructs acids that impart the underlying characteristic flavor and taste of the coffee.SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 26:  A barista at S...

Prior to the coffee is released in the marketplace, it requires to be graded. The scoring is founded on the assessment of pro tasters who are connoisseurs of coffee. The way of tasting calls for them to sniff deeply of slurp the coffee loudly to carry it back to their tongues. With this, they find out the texture, oiliness, acidity, and harmony.  Grinding the coffee beans can be done at several levels and the bean can be ground coarse or fine. The Turkish grind is believed to be the finest and can be combined with water directly. The coarsest grinds are considered to be the coffee percolator and the French Press.

Grinding can be handled the coffee company, the grocery shop or at home. And these days, many people prefer to buy whole beans even though the grinding process does involve higher levels of effort at home. The most common home coffee machines use the drip and paper filter grinds. These machines give a grind that is somewhere between the finest and the coarsest grinds. The drip machines pass near-boiling water through the coffee in a filter. The other method that is used to make coffee from coffee beans is the espresso method. This method is more technologically advanced and involves hot steaming water that is forced through the grounded coffee to give coffee that is frothy and great to taste.  But there are many people who do not want to put in large amounts of effort to make a cup of coffee. For the convenience of such people, there are many instant coffee brands available in the market. Instant coffee is dried into soluble powder or frozen-dried into granules so that all a consumer needs to do is to mix hot or cold water to prepare the beverage.

So whether you like cappuccino or espresso, ensure that you appreciate the effort, perseverance and skill that it is required to make the coffee what it is.

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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Is Fair Trade fair??

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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Fair Trade Organic

Houtte Collections
Fair Trade Organic 11 ITEMS VIEW ALL

Africana Fair Trade Organic – Medium Roast
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Africana Fair Trade Organic – Medium Roast
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Box of 24 K-Cup® Packs – $17.45

Amazonia Fair Trade Organic – Medium Roast
Velvety & Woodsy
Box of 24 K-Cup® Packs – $17.45

Amazonia Fair Trade Organic – Medium Roast
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Beans 340 g – $11.49

Amazonia Fair Trade Organic – Medium Roast
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Ground 340 g – $11.49

Espresso Dolce Crema Fair Trade Organic – Medium Roast
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Beans 340 g – $11.49

Sierra Maya Fair Trade Organic – Dark Roast
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Beans 340 g – $11.49

Swiss Water Decaf Fair Trade Organic – Light Roast
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Ground 312 g – $11.49

Swiss Water Decaf Fair Trade Organic – Light Roast
Mellow & Woodsy
Box of 24 K-Cup® Packs – $17.45

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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


video series on roasting cofffee

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Uncategorized