Fair Trade pushes too far

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    For the average consumer, coffee-buying habits are determined by taste and price.But Frogs for Fair Trade wants us to have other concerns when buying coffee. The group wants us to consider the workers who are producing the coffee and the fact that they are not being paid fairly, and it wants us to change our buying habits accordingly.

    That is why fair trade organizations are attempting to convince Jazzman’s Caf‚s nationwide to switch entirely to Fair Trade Certified coffee.

    But Fair Trade coffee costs more than regular coffee. What average person who is not interested in fair trade concerns will wish to buy the more expensive coffee?

    If students want regular coffee, they can visit other locations on campus, said Frogs for Fair Trade president Rory Phillips in yesterday’s Skiff. But Jazzman’s is not affiliated with the other locations, which sell Starbucks. Essentially, Fair Trade is expecting Jazzman’s to turn away people who want regular – cheaper – coffee, losing them to the competition.

    Clearly, Frogs for Fair Trade is not trying to close Jazzman’s, but if Fair Trade succeeds in its goal, it might cause that by default.

    Fair trade organizations are attempting to change the way we think about markets, but they cannot ignore market forces.

    Students must decide if they wish to support the goals by buying the certified blends.

    If Frogs for Fair Trade and fair trade organizations as a whole want to change the world by selling this coffee, they will have to create a market for it. They will need to focus on the students. They have already created an opportunity for students to make this lifestyle choice; now they just have to convince them to make it.

    If they succeed, they won’t have to convince Jazzman’s to sell Fair Trade Certified products exclusively – Jazzman’s will want to do it on its own.

    Opinion editor Stephanie Weaver for the editorial board