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Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520249592
ISBN-10: 0520249593
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"The idea of fair trade in a global economy is central to contemporary debates over neoliberalism, globalization and the rule of the free market. But what are the coordinates of the fair trade moment; what sort of alternative does it offer for producers and consumers? Daniel Jaffee is at once a fierce proponent of fair trade but also a critical voice. How, he asks, can fair trade coffee be in and against the market? With one foot in the Central American coffee fincas and the other in the intellectual world of Karl Polanyi and his disciples, Daniel Jaffee has on offer a very heady brew. Brewing Justice is a pioneering study of the variety of fair trade movements; a prospectus for a more radical vision of fair trade—an alternative sort of market; and a vital contribution to contemporary debates over free trade, the global agro-food system and the so-called 'movement of movements'. A tour de force."—Michael Watts, University of California, Berkeley

“Daniel Jaffee has done the Fair Trade movement a real service in his meticulous research into the actual effect of Fair Trade on coffee farmers in a group of villages in Oaxaca, Mexico. Up till now the claims of Fair Trade benefits for the producers have been largely based on brief visits and anecdotes, but now there is hard evidence. In analysing the market for Fair Trade he distinguishes clearly between those who wish to break the market, those who would reform the market and those who simply want access to a growing market. But his book will be of great value not only in his conclusions about how Fair Trade can be made fairer, but in extending our understanding of the overwhelming power of the giant corporations in international trade, even seeking to improve their image by cooptation and dilution of the standards when faced by the challenge of Fair Trade.” —Michael Barratt Brown, author of Fair Trade: Reform and Realities in the International Trading System

"It is possible to establish a global economy that is just, humane, and sustainable. But it will not be easy. The forces favoring injustice, inhumanity, and exploitation are powerful and entrenched. And, for too long, they have been supported by academics and researchers who have not bothered to examine the real costs of globalization on a standard free-trade model, let alone the real opportunities of globalization on an enlightened fair-trade model. Daniel Jaffee breaks new ground with Brewing Justice. His scholarship is stellar. His conclusions are at once realistic and inspiring. In these pages, it is possible to find the roadmap to a new and better global economy. Read them closely, embrace them, and then get to work on building a fair-trade future."—John Nichols, The Nation

"Brewing Justice is an impressive account of the relationships and ethics embedded in fair trade coffee. Engaging the reader in a comparative global ethnography of fair and free trade coffee production, the author evaluates the gains and losses of fair trade for Mexican peasants. Jaffee's unique accomplishment is to show the consuming public how fair trade can be realized through improving the tenuous existence of producers."—Philip McMichael, author of Development and Social Change

"Brewing Justice is at once a sobering account of what the fair trade movement has achieved, and an optimistic statement that only by deepening movements like this one, will society advance in the direction of economic democracy and justice."—Gerardo Otero, professor of sociology and Latin American Studies, Simon Fraser University

"Brewing Justice is not just a study of fair trade coffee. It also provides alternatives to the unfair rules of trade imposed by the WTO. And it shows that we can all play a role in shaping the economy. Drinking coffee is a political act."—Vandana Shiva, author of Earth Democracy

About the Author

Daniel Jaffee is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Portland State University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 331 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (April 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520249593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520249592
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By E. N. Anderson VINE VOICE on December 11, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a stunning book. Written by a sociologist, it combines the best of anthropology, sociology, and economics to produce a work that transcends all of them and makes major contributions to the literature on social justice and on development.
The core of it is a detailed study of the fall of coffee prices and the consequent rise of fair trade coffee-buying in Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca was an ideal choice because it is an impoverished area that produces very good coffee, and because Mexico was particularly hard hit by the world meltdown in coffee prices in the 1990s. Oaxaca can now claim that much of its coffee is fair trade, organic, and shade grown, to say nothing of being a fine drink. Thus it can command a relatively good price that keeps the small producers there alive--barely. Jaffee not only describes the coffee economy; he shows, from a wonderful village study, how it relates to maize agriculture, labor out-migration, forest conservation, and other important aspects of life. The shade-grown coffee plantations of south Mexico are incredible wildlife paradises--a birdwatcher's mad dream of heaven--and are absolutely critical not only for the survival of Mexican birds but of migrants from the rest of North America as well.
Jaffee seems not to know just how bad Mexican coffee was in the old days of state control of the coffee economy. The state saw fit, in many cases, to push mass production of low-grade coffee, trying to compete with Brazil. This failed. The free market came and wrecked the economy, but it did what competition is supposed to do: it improved the coffee, and provided better markets for what was already good. It also had the sad effect of driving many producers of low-grade coffee out of the field and into dire poverty. This problem remains with us.
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Format: Paperback
Jaffee did a great job covering the important aspects of fair trade coffee. He thoroughly explained the history of the market and explained the coffee market during the ICA years as well. He also covers the drawbacks of fair trade. I would recomend this book to anyone interested in coffee as well as anyone interested in social justice.
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Format: Paperback
Daniel Jaffee's book is about much more than coffee. It is a detailed look into the lives of people living in the mountains of southern Mexico. I have been involved with a village in the mountains of Nicaragua for 3 years where the people also grow coffee along with staple food crops. Mr. Jaffee gets all of the details right and adds a myriad more. It is worth digging into his statistics, they truly help understanding the situation, the people, and their lives. Little can compare with the impact of 29% and 42% on page 170 (the percentage of people in two categories who do not always have adequate food for their children). He does not overdo it though, and gives the social impacts of the economic situations both locally and world-wide that drive these peoples' lives.

The free vs. fair trade discussion will make anyone think. The book starts down a path of pushing fair trade over free trade but the more I read and digested the situation the more I tended back to free trade. It is a rare book that can so tie the chain of economic events from a poor farmer in Oaxaca to my morning cup of coffee. But even more so, I start to see many ways that we shape the world and even more where there is a shape I have no control over. In the end, I will buy certified organic fair-trade coffee and support free trade in the Americas. Life is complicated.

Few books have taught me so much.
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