Say what you will about Green Mountain Coffee’s corporate dealings or the current state of fair trade certification, it should be noted that some people within the Vermont-based coffee company take its role as one of the country’s biggest buyers seriously.
In the latest installment of the New York Times environmental opinion feature Dot Earth, which explores the “balance human affairs with the planet’s limits,” columnist Andrew Revkin republishes correspondence he received from Mike Dupee, Green Mountain’s vice president for corporate social responsibility.
Dupee goes on to explain how Green Mountain, along with numerous other partners, began exploring the economic realities of its supplying farmers who worked on less than three acres of land. Even then, just five years ago, what the company found was a revelation. Writes Dupee:
Through this research, undertaken with the Center for Tropical Agriculture, we learned that more than two thirds of coffee farmers interviewed in Nicaragua, Mexico and Guatemala experienced three to eight months of extreme food scarcity annually. This period of food insecurity generally occurs after the coffee harvest during the rainy season when access to food is scarce and costs increase.
Dupee goes on to say that Green Mountain has subsequently been involved in 20 food security projects benefiting some 19,000 farm families, and that the company hopes to extend such programs to reach 20,000 additional families this year. The company also helped fund a documentary film highlighting the plight of some of its farmer suppliers, “After the Harvest.”
Here’s a preview: