WHERE AM I EATING? AN ADVENTURE THROUGH THE GLOBAL FOOD ECONOMY
CHAPTER DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Developed by J.R. Jamison on behalf of Kelsey Timmerman
Part I Coffee: Product of Colombia
Chapter 1: The Starbucks Experience
1. What influence has American culture had on coffee exports and the lives of farmers?
2. If you had coffee this morning, where did that coffee come from? How have your purchasing decisions impacted the lives of coffee farmers? Do you feel your cup influenced these decisions?
3. Starbucks would not share the location of their farms because of proprietary information. How would you define proprietary? When should something be proprietary and when should it not?
4. Do you feel that it is fair for Starbucks to keep the information proprietary? Why or why not.
5. The Starbucks C.A.F.E. regulation program would not be defined as Fair Trade. Should farmers whose farms have been certified as Starbucks C.A.F.E. (with or without their knowledge) know the markup on their coffee? Why or why not.
6. Comparing Juan Valdez to Starbucks—what are the strengths and weaknesses of each model?
7. Empresas de Nariño had good intentions by giving away beneficios to lucky farmers, but it is clear their actions have not helped in the long run. What role should coffee companies have in continuing education for their farmers? What could that model look like?
8. What is it about the geography and climate of Colombia that makes it ideal for coffee?
9. Since the beginning of coffee in Ethiopia to its evolution to Central and South America, climate has played a major role in coffee. How is climate changing the coffee boom in present day?
10. Because of climate and politics, there has been a shift of coffee farms moving from Central and South America to places as far off as Vietnam. How does this impact the lives of farmers in Colombia? How does it impact the lives of farmers in non-traditional coffee growing locations?
Chapter 2: The Grande Gringo Picks Coffee
1. Once Kelsey had an eye for the Starbucks C.A.F.E emblem on farms, he noticed it everywhere. Farmers report, however, that Starbucks has not returned to help. Reflecting on question 7 from Chapter 1, what is the responsibility of companies to stay in communities for continuing education beyond initial setup?
2. Nespresso, operated by the European company Nestle, is beginning to take the lead in Colombia where Starbucks has fallen short. Is there a difference in U.S. regulations and standards and European regulations and standards that has made this possible?
3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. regulations and standards model vs. the European regulations and standards model?
4. Coffee is the largest employer in Colombia. What is your largest employer? Are there exploitation comparisons between the largest employer in your hometown and the coffee farmers?
5. Kelsey risked his life climbing the steep slopes of a volcano to harvest coffee, and he indicated that the picking of the pods is not as easy as it might seem. Yet coffee farmers who are not part of a co-op are paid little. If you owned a major coffee company, what would you do to employ fair wages for your farmers?
Chapter 3: The Cup of Excellence
1. Using the definition of child labor as defined by the International Labor Organization, why are child labor laws important? How has it impacted trade agreements? Is it fairly monitored?
2. The New Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia doesn’t affect coffee because it is already tariff-free; however, what are the human rights implications with the new Free Trade Agreement? Could the agreement hurt or help coffee farmers?
3. Starbucks C.A.F.E. third party inspectors practice has led to not so different conditions than non-C.A.F.E. practices, though clever marketing has continued to make Westerners feel good. How has Western popularity of fairness in purchasing hurt farming? How has it helped?
4. Kelsey discusses the human experience of giving and taking. What is the juxtaposition between the taking and giving with trade agreements and certification agencies and the giving of a Frisbee as a piece of the human connection?
5. The Juan Valdez logo by the Federation ensures the coffee is 100% Colombian certified. How can the fairness of coffee be traced if coffee is mixed (ex: not 100% Colombian certified)?
Chapter 4: The Heart of the World
1. “This is where every man comes to make decisions; spiritual ones, and ones about the land.” Kelsey felt this Arhuacan ethos about the environment resonated to his experience with grocery stores. In your community, where are places where you make these decisions?
2. How removed or not removed do you feel from decisions about the land?
3. The Fair Trade movement and co-ops work well with the Arhuaco because of their belief in not taking more than you give. How has our thirst for more at cheap prices impacted the environment and balance of the land?
4. As monoculture farming has continued to take a toll on the land, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been one way to continue to reproduce food in abundance; yet research shows that the impact GMOs have on land and people is more negative than positive. Seventy percent of processed foods consist of GMOs, but there is no ban or required labeling of GMOs in the U.S. How often do you consume GMOs? How does that consumption impact “man and land?”
5. Cocaine production and drug cartels have led Plan Colombia to take extreme measures on the land to decrease these activities, which in turn has hurt small farms. Are the Colombian government and the government of countries that do farm business with Colombia responsible for returning balance to the land?
Part I Coffee: Product of Colombia – Section Reflection
Write a 500 word free write on your reflections from Part I of WHERE AM I EATING? using the following statements as prompts.
1. Fair Trade vs. Trade.
2. Tariffs and policies with Colombia.
3. Climate change.
6. Western demand of more and its effects on farming.
7. Cartels, drugs, farming, purification, and trade.
8. The people, the culture, a better life.
9. Are we or aren’t we helping with our purchases?
10. Will the Arhuaco save the world?