When we were skiing in Utah this February, sometimes we would stop at "Baldy’s Brew", a little coffee bar that was mid-mountain at Alta. Aside from making some really good espresso; they had all these lovely posters up about Fair Trade and organic coffee growers. Made you feel good about that espresso.
Now, along comes an article in Salon Magazine’s Eat & Drink section that brings up an interesting problem. There has been confusion about what products can be called ‘organic’, and in an attempt to tighten up the guidelines, the Health department may actually be harming the organic movement. Previously, when a grower wanted to get US organic certification, they would be grouped together with other growers in the area, and 20% of the growers would be inspected each year, so by rotating the growers, in a 5 year period all growers would eventually be inspected. Now the ruling is calling for inspections every year. Unfortunately given the physical location and logistics of some coffee growers in remote areas, this is financially impossible. A consequence of the new ruling is that it will enable the big growers to get bigger, and squeeze out the smaller growers. Surely this was not the intent, but it is the result nonetheless.
At a time when there is an explosion of interest in eating local, support local growers, having sustainable food sources, this is a significant setback.