We had a post last week on [evo] coffee. It drew a very interesting letter that deserves public, civil conversation. The letter is below. What do you think? Should we buy fair trade coffee as a form of justice?

Dear Scot,

I also believe all people should be compensated justly for what they
produce. However, there are inherent and serious problems with evo and
fair trade markets.

1) Farmers, who for generations grew various crops
on the same land, now only grow one crop year after year, because evo
and fair trade markets incentivise them too. This is terrible for farm

2) Farmers refuse to innovate through markets or products,
creating new items or ways to make money, because they again are
artificially incentivised to only grow one crop.

3) The vast majority
of global farmers are not owners; they are workers. When the few owner
farmers there are are paid artificially inflated prices for their crop,
it devalues the non-fair trade crops’ value and causes non-fair trade
workers/farmers to make even less money.

EVO and Fair Trade markets incentivise poor farming practices that
destroy fertile lands. They reduce innovation and desire to create new
products and services possibly in greater demand than the evo crop.
They provide “a little” more money for the few owner farmers there are
at the greater expense of the vast majority of non-owner workers in the

Buying fair trade and evo might make people with more money feel
better about the way they consume, but it hurts the market,
environment, and workers of the world far more than it helps. If you
require supportive material for this view, I can provide it, but plenty
is readily available online.

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