Pay more for coffee? On purpose?
Oh, the horrors! We in North America do like our deals on food and other things, don’t we!
Why would anyone choose to pay more money for something that we can get for less elsewhere? We may even think it’s prideful to think one should purchase the higher cost item.
I heard of a woman who lived in a rural area but shopped in a deluxe boutique in the big city when she could. On sale? Not good enough. She wanted to be able to tell her friends back home she’d paid more than a hundred dollars for her new sweater. Maybe they’d wish they could afford it, too!
Now that’s a prideful reason!
I hear people say they can’t afford to spend more on coffee. But more to the point, they don’t really see why they should. Are premium brands really that much more flavorful than budget brands?
Maybe. It’s certainly one reason people with more disposable income choose to upgrade their coffee. But there are other reasons—reasons that are not prideful or selfish. Reasons that have little to do with the decision-maker. They’re reasons that look out for the needs of others who are less fortunate.
- Organic. You’ll pay more for organic coffee. Even the most quality-conscious people eat—or drink—many things that aren’t organic, so why pick on coffee? Whether or not you care enough for your own body to choose organic, spare some thought for the farm hands who grow the crop. They may not have a choice between working with chemicals or not having a job at all. Help to make it worth the while of coffee growers to go organic. If not for the sake of the end consumer (you), choose it for the sake of the workers.
- Fair Trade. We say we can’t afford to pay more for coffee, but how about those who grow it and are paid at barely above slavery rates? How about the quality of their lives? How about education and clean water for their children? How can we, who have so much, ignore the plight of those who grow our luxuries?
I buy organic fair trade coffee and chocolate. I usually choose to do without if it’s not available. Because I think I’m better than others? May the Lord forbid. Instead, it’s because I am trying to live out Micah 6:8. I want to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.
When I take this verse to heart, I remember I am not more valuable in God’s eyes than a coffee grower in Indonesia or a slave child harvesting cocoa in Ivory Coast. (Google it. I wish I were kidding.) How can I demand my full pot of coffee that keeps others in a position of need when instead I could cut my consumption in half and support better working conditions worldwide? Or I could drink just as much coffee and brew it all at home instead of hitting the drive-through as many North Americans do.
October is Fair Trade Month. As you consider what candy to buy for trick-or-treaters, what food to grace your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, what presents to give those you honor and cherish, think about how these purchases affect others around the world.
Can you make different choices? Better choices? Choices that improve life for others around the world instead of keeping them in bondage?
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:1-4 NIV)
Do the Amish think about such things? Many Amish were actively involved in the Underground Railway, helping slaves escape to freedom, so I’d like to think that, even now, they’d be ready to help right a wrong.
If you like your morning mocha, as I do, consider making your own, even if you don’t have a steamer.
What other ways can we look to the interests of those in third world countries? What other ways can you accept the challenge of Fair Trade Month?