Purchasing the virtuous triangle
November 6, 2019 7:51 AM   Subscribe

"It wasn’t very long ago that a banana was just a banana – just a curved, yellow fruit. All you knew, if you bought a bunch in 1986, was that they cost around 97p per kilo. You weren’t told if they were organic or pesticide-free. You didn’t know if they came from Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic. And you certainly weren’t invited to worry about the farmers who grew them – or if their children went to school, or whether their villages had clinics. You just picked up your bananas and walked to the next aisle for your coffee or tea or chocolate, none the wiser about where they came from either, or about the people who farmed them. Back then, the countries that grew these commodities and many others were still known as the Third World, and the habit of not caring about their farming conditions was a legacy of their colonial past. For centuries, trade propelled the colonial project, and exploitation was its very purpose." Samanth Subramanian writes about fairtrade, label fatigue, and what it means when large companies set their own ethical trade standards.
posted by ChuraChura (5 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Instead, the world’s giant food multinationals are taking matters into their own hands – setting up their own in-house certification programmes, appraising their own ethics to their own satisfaction.

Now, there’s an idea without a long history of disaster and horror!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:14 AM on November 6 [8 favorites]


One Sainsbury’s executive singled out one of the central principles of Fairtrade’s model: the so-called “premium” above the minimum price that companies must pay, and which cooperatives must use to build schools, or run clinics, or improve their communities in other ways. Sainsbury’s was concerned that the premium was being poorly used, and that it was money wasted.

Yes, I am certain that this is a completely sincere worry prompted by nothing but the best interests of the farmers.

Fuck a whole bunch of these people.
posted by Frowner at 8:52 AM on November 6 [14 favorites]


i have a phone interview for an internship with a small, animal welfare approved dairy goat farm in about an hour, pray for me y'all i'm trying to escape this nonsense
posted by youarenothere at 9:12 AM on November 6 [5 favorites]


Instead, the world’s giant food multinationals are taking matters into their own hands – setting up their own in-house certification programmes, appraising their own ethics to their own satisfaction.

Ah, the vitamin/supplement approach. Just make sure you maintain some plausible deniability, guys... at least make sure the parent LLC doesn't show up as owning the certification group, or you'll face
*checks notes*
no repercussions whatsoever.
posted by Mayor West at 9:13 AM on November 6 [9 favorites]


An interesting historical bit at the end:
After the publication of Max Havelaar shocked the public, in 1901 the Dutch government formulated a new ethical policy – one that would treat Indonesia as a moral responsibility rather than simply as a territory to be exploited. Millions of guilders had flowed from these islands into the Dutch treasury – 187m between 1867 and 1878 alone – and so the government committed to spending 30m guilders over the first decade on the welfare of the Indies’ farmers. Not surprisingly, they received agricultural credit and irrigation canals, because the Dutch corporations were avid for better yields. They also gained more schools and more roads; they were not, however, encouraged to industrialise, because this would have inflated the cost of local labour and led to competition with Dutch businesses.
Industrialization, including industrialized agriculture, is what has lifted 90% of the people out of poverty who've been lifted out of poverty.
posted by clawsoon at 12:01 PM on November 6 [5 favorites]


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