15 June 2007

Black Gold's Cup of Woe

Black Gold: Wake Up and Smell the CoffeeThe Guardian suggested the film shows how collective and fair-trade initiatives can do something to help coffee producers in the developing world by correcting inequities between the prices we pay and those that farmers actually get for their produce. The Times noted that although the film is quick to posit fair trade as a solution, it fails to answer why, even with the admirable initiatives of Tadesse Meskela, the film's tireless crusader, his coffee farmers still struggle to buy shoes. Nick and Marc Francis, the British brothers who made Black Gold, say it simply describes what happens in the coffee business, claiming "It doesn't offer solutions; it is up to consumers and politicians to decide for themselves how to respond to it." Ian Lucas, a former leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, in The Difference article Trading Fair, believes that local councils should make the world a better place by supporting fairtrade initiatives.

So, has anybody seen the film yet? How would you respond?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I watched Black Gold this week on a plane back from the US. I had never heard anything about this documentary film and thought I would give it five minutes before a probable switch to James Bond or something similar.

After two minutes I was gripped and an hour and twenty minutes literally flew by.

The film profiles an amazing man Tadesse Meskela who manages a coffee cooperative for around 25 coffee farmers in Ethiopia. A man who demonstates selfless vision and sacrifice on behalf of his farmers despite desperately low prices for coffee.

It takes five years for these coffee plants to grow before the beans can be harvested. Five years of investment and care and pride in this product. The Ethiopian beans are recognised as some of the best in the world and consumed by millions around the world and yet despite this investment of time and care many of these farmers are still not able to afford education for their children and even the basics of life are out of reach for many.

A lazy three second decision in a supermarket or in a coffee outlet does make a difference and whilst we are to applaud the fact that there are more fare trade coffee products than ever before, it still means that there is coffee being sold which is NOT fairly traded which to me is bizarre!

The frightening thing for me also is to see how far behind America is in the awareness and promotion of fair trade. The UK has a way to go but you sense that retailers are finally reacting to the awareness and conscience of the shopper.

This film is a must see but be warned your coffee fix may never be the same!

MikeC said...

Having just opened a coffee shop, fair trade is something I'm keenly aware of. However, the story isn't even as simple as this.

Fair Trade will only review and qualify coffees that come from co-operatives. Many coffee farmers, especially in South America, live many miles from the nearest possible co-operative, and therefore cannot easily become qualified.

There are existing coffee businesses that deal directly with these smalltime coffee growers, building a relationship with them, and paying even more than the fair trade price.

So, Fair Trade is a start, but relationships are the long-term solution - seeking to properly know where our food and drink, and other consumer products really come from, and desiring to be on a right footing, both ethically and financially with that person/family/business, by way of their product.

Palm Springs Savant said...

I have it on my list with netflix. I did just see Blood Diamond...similar themes of course. I'll let you know when I see this one tho

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The Times noted that although the film is quick to posit fair trade as a solution...

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It fails to answer why, even with the admirable initiatives of Tadesse Meskela..

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