Roger Downey's solution to the crisis [that] is threatening the livelihoods of 20 million small farmers who grow coffee is to find a few good hillsides of beans and brand them with marketing spin to tickle the palates and pocketbooks of a few "joyous" gourmet elitists who will pay a premium price to boast about their special "plantation" ["The $8 Latte," March 28]. As an economic model to bring fair value to the world coffee market, this is rubbish. Though a few farmers will benefit from signature coffee, it will do nothing for the millions of small farmers who are fortunate to produce five bags a year and [who] will never have the opportunity to link up with a gourmet distributor.
Fair Trade activists bring their ethical values into their consumer choices by saying they will only buy coffee [if] the farmer has been paid fairly. Fair Trade works with the smallest farmers through co-ops [since] they are most vulnerable to world market [fluctuations] and the oppressive behavior of middlemen who stake them credit and buy their beans. A fair price [is] a matter of life and death for these farmers. Downey calls this political. I buy Fair Trade as a matter of justice. When I became aware that I was stealing the coffee I drink, I felt obligated to change my behavior.
In Downey's logic, what is wrong with shade[-grown], organic, and Fair Trade coffees is that they appeal to conscience, not to our discerning palates and desire for elite brews. [He] expects us to believe that letting such snobbery guide our choices will bring equity for farmers. On the contrary, it will only brighten our dinner conversation with the self-indulgent notion that the world, which is reeling in poverty, is really there to indulge our tastes.
Downey is wrong in saying that Fair Trade coffee costs about $1 more a pound. SBC's Fair Trade Organic French Roast [is] the same price as their other bulk beans; Madison Market's Fair Trade bulk beans cost the same or less than the open-market bulk beans at Safeway.
COFFEE IN KANSAS
[Starbucks CEO Howard] Schultz was off the mark preaching to [mass market coffee companies] about consumer angst ["The $8 Latte," March 28]. Folgers/Hills Bros. consumers and Starbucks consumers, cousins in their addiction only, do not overlap much as a demographic. A Kansas farmer opening a can of caustic death grind does not care [about], nor is he aware of, Fair Trade, shade growing, organic ya ya, or other nonsense Seattleites fret over as they stand in line jonesing for their triple shots. Raise the price to save Juan Valdez's boutique java rancho? Not. Jamaica Blue is like Niles Crane to the overalls crowd: prissy shit they would just as soon run over in their pickup with a half a bale of hay in the back. Market forces apply, baby. Vietnamese growers are playing the game they [were] taught by Sam Walton, and God bless them for it.
"Of course, I could be wrong."
A VEGAN'S BEEF
In Jill Lightner's "April Food's Day" [March 28], she suggested that we feed animal and animal by-product to vegans as a joke. Is this as funny as feeding pork to Muslims or Jews? Maybe she thinks veganism is some kind of dietary decision one makes to stay slim or be "smug" or "pristine." No. It is a realization that animals are beings and have a right not to be penned, genetically altered, used in experiments [or] as play things, or eaten. To vegans, our globally industrialized sponsorship of animal consumption is a holocaust. No, Jill, it ain't funny if you "slip me some beef" or add animal [remains] to my food. I might not, but many vegans I know would kick you right in your bloated meat-sack of a head for doing such a thing.
TRUMMEL = TROUBLE
Rick Anderson's March 21 article about Paul Trummel ("Forbidden Phrases") is filled with distortions of fact.
Judge Doerty didn't send Trummel to jail; Trummel sent himself to jail [after violating a court order to stop posting personal attacks and accusations about others on his Web site]. This is NOT a freedom of speech issue; it is about Trummel's cruel and systematic harassment of our Council House community.
For years, Trummel [a former resident] has slandered Council House staff and residents. He has threatened residents [and] terrified people throughout our building. More than 40 tenants joined in the anti-harassment case. Many more would've except they were afraid of his reprisals.
Trummel is in jail because he refuses to stop [the harassment]. He encourages racial, ethnic, and religious bigotry in our diverse community. Trummel adds nothing to this world but hatred. He is a delusional, self-absorbed, serial sadist who derives pleasure from destroying people's lives.
Resident, Council House
THE STATE'S BUG BATTLE HURTS SEATTLE
Roger Downey's article ["The Air War," March 21] was to the point and did a great job of summarizing the troubling aspects of our state gypsy moth program.
However, the article implies that Asian gypsy moths were found in Ballard and Vader. Only European moths were found in our state this year. The difference is critical, because if even one Asian moth is discovered, it triggers an unstoppable (and not scientifically based, as we discovered) aerial spraying of a square mile. European moths are usually eradicated with ground-based spraying (no comfort for those homeowners in Crown Hill who will be exposed to the pesticide).
Also, the spray is not just an "oil suspension of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk)" but a mixture called Foray 48B, which contains a half-dozen other ingredients that the state will not reveal. We have reason to believe that one [may be] a substance banned in Europe as too toxic. In addition, Foray 48B will be diluted with another chemical, Plyac, which is an endocrine-disrupting substance.
At last summer's U.S. Conference of Mayors, mayors (including ours) adopted The Earth Charter, which states: "Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach." [Our] state is spraying us with substances that cannot meet these standards, especially when there are proven safer alternatives.
President, No Spray Zone
You almost had me. As I read "Promises, Promises" by Geov Parrish [March 21], I found myself angry over the promises of taxpayer "gifts" to Immunex [for building its new facility] without recourse if the company didn't deliver on its promises. I wondered if the Weekly had [become] a legitimate voice against large-scale injustice, in contrast to its traditional role as an anti-establishment shock rag. My anger toward government and my warm fuzzies for the Weekly abruptly subsided when [Parrish] revealed his true shock colors [at the end]. Employed as the Intel-DuPont site's primary recycling contractor, I believe that the people at Intel with whom my company interacts would be surprised to hear that their company has " . . . closed the facility and left the state." So far in 2002, Intel has recycled more than 100 tons of cardboard, paper, metal, and wood in DuPont. It appears that the author referred to that motto of shock-rag journalism: If you don't have enough facts to support your case, make them up! Now I wonder how much of the rest of the article was made up.
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