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Food & Drink: How Locals Fostered Fair-Trade Coffee


Coffee aficionados pay close attention to a coffee’s country of origin, but little thought is given to the people who grow and pick coffee beans. Getting beans to market is labor intensive work done by hand in remote and often impoverished coffee-growing regions throughout the world.

Traditionally, farmers sold beans to companies in the United States through intermediaries that didn’t offer a living wage to the people who were growing, picking and processing the coffee. Interested in changing that dynamic, Garth and Gay Smith started an organic, free-trade coffee company (Organic Products Trading Company) from their home in Vancouver in the 1990s.

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