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The point made at the end of your DT analysis is a valid one. In the best of worlds, all companies purporting to source coffee using a Direct Trade model would be by default doing the work required to make it valid. They would be motivated by personal ethics, visions of a more sustainable industry, a desire for better quality and a sense of social responsibility rather than seeking only marketing gain. It is certainly true that there are some companies out there mislabeling their coffees as Direct Trade, either because they don’t really get what it means or because they are intentionally greenwashing their products. But that’s the way of the world--if something appears to have a sales or marketing value there always will be those who seek to take advantage irresponsibly, driven by nothing more than an interest in financial gain. Even the large certification companies have to deal with this...cheaters exist in every stage of the coffee supply chain, and there are farms and farmer groups out there with certifications that they really shouldn’t have. But that doesn’t invalidate the certification programs, as I’m sure that in the majority of cases the compliance is legit. It’s just a recognition of reality--we live in a large world and absolute control over a program, a concept, or a philosophy is probably not something that can be had. Yet there is a solution: consumers can, if they choose, take the time to look past the label for evidence of substance. They can ask questions when things are unclear. Our collective Spidey-sense/BS meter is actually pretty powerful. As a wiser man than me once said, “You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”. (continued in next post...3000 characters translates to fewer words than I had supposed..)
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