Elephant, Turtle, and the Morning Cup of Coffee - A Fair Trade Story

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Early one morning, Elephant and Turtle were planning to meet at Elephant's house in San Mateo for their morning ritual of drinking hot coffee and sharing tall tales about all the other creatures in town. Tu Tu Turtle (shown above) had gotten a pretty late start and needed a little help getting to Elephant's house on time. Fortunately, Holly the Whippet needed some way to work off her breakfast and she agreed to pull Tu Tu along until Tu Tu reached her destination (carrying a string in your mouth has some advantages). Elephant, who went by the name Ms. E. Pooh, was in her kitchen when Tu Tu arrived. 

"Have you made our coffee yet?" Tu Tu asked. "No. I don't think we should have my coffee any more." Ms. E. answered.

"Why not?"

"Well, it isn't 'Fair Trade' coffee." Ms. E. replied. "You see, last evening I had guests over to dinner and when I got ready to serve dessert my friend Cubby the bear said he couldn't drink the coffee because the people who grew the beans weren't paid fairly, worked really long hours, and were exposed to lots of pesticides."

Then, Ms. E. slid her Kobo tablet in front of Tu Tu and said "Here. Watch this video. It's all about the difference between the coffee we usually drink and 'Fair Trade' coffee."

After watching the video, Tu Tu had two questions. "What's a peso? And, where can we get Fair Trade coffee?"

Ms. E. and Tu Tu headed over to 25th Avenue in San Mateo and visited Reach And Teach where they found several different kinds of Fair Trade coffee as well as cocoa, chocolate, crafts, toys, and lots of other products that were certified fair trade. 

They bought some Proud Mama coffee and went back to Ms. E.'s house, brewed it up, and launched into their usual gossip session and, as the story goes, they lived happily ever after. Ms. E. was especially happy because while she was at the shop, she learned a whole new use for something that had been piling up around her back yard for years.... pooh. Who knew you could make an entire business out of elephant pooh? Results of her hard work can now be found at Reach And Teach!

JUST THE BEGINNING

We encounter many people who have never heard of the term Fair Trade. For a Few Pesos More is a wonderful animated music video, and a perfect way to introduce people to the injustices of "Free Trade" and the alternative justice of "Fair Trade." The video was created by the British Association for Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) in coordination with Pangea (Rome, Italy) with co-financing from the European Union.  Reach And Teach discovered this great animation through the Fair Trade Resource Network in Washington D.C. and got permission from them and BAFTS to make it available to our web site visitors, along with a teacher guide which you'll find after the lyrics below.

Lyrics

All year long the farmer tills his soil
To harvest a product that’s as precious as oil
One year’s work without hope or means
What did he get for his coffee beans?
Just three pesos, pesos just three
For one year’s work and his crop of coffee.

The guy who buys his coffee doesn’t speak his lingo
He’s a smooth talking, hard selling, tight-fisted gringo…
If it’s cotton, bananas, cocoa and café
What do you think he gets for his pay?
Three thousand pesos, a thousand times three,
For a quick slick chat to buy some coffee. (Repeat)

Cotton, bananas, cocoa and coffee
take a month to cross the wide blue seas
the London dealer gets three million clean
For a two second sale on his PC screen.
The sweatshop boss yells from his office:
“Lay off some workers! We’re losing our profits!”,
he looks at his Rolex – it’s getting late –
back home to a mansion on his country estate.

3000 pesos are no longer enough;
Now it starts at a million and (it) keeps going up. (Repeat)

A scientist arrives from the US of A
and studies our bean in a whole new way.
“Try out this spray with added genes.
It’ll make it grow better – though it won’t be too clean.”

The TV ads use a famous star,
who struts her stuff for a coffee jar
with flying coffee beans in a sexy pose
she gets a cheque with seven zeros.

One little bean of all that coffee
Costs more than farmer, field and crop all three. (Repeat)

The smooth exporter… plays his trick
The London trader… gets rich quick
The sweatshop boss… puts his feet up
The US expert… rejects his cup
Manager, actress, banker, ad-man… are happier and richer than beforehand.
But all the work done by the poor farm hick
Earns just three pesos – and one penny tip. (Repeat)

One way we can improve the global plot
is to treat people fairly and improve their lot.

Part of the world has been plundered for years
by those who don’t care for their victim’s tears,
the only things that turn these cheaters on
are stock-exchange prices, not human lives gone.
But lucky for you, in trade these days
We can show you a better way out of this maze. (Repeat)

Another farmer worked a year on his lands.
Instead of going to market he took power in his hands
By meeting someone else, just a guy down to earth,
someone who pays him what his work is worth,
he knows that an hour should be paid just the same,
for an ordinary farmer or a famous name.
His goods are now sold in ‘Fair Trade Shops’,
that pay a proper price for work and crops. (Repeat)
Outside the trap of the free trade maze
united in the justice of the fair trade ways. (Repeat)

Credits

Original Italian lyrics: Dario Iacobelli
Italian executive producer: Marco Massa
Music: Daniele Sepe
Animation: Maurizio Forestieri (Graphilm, Matitaly Consortium)
UK executive producer: Richard Holgarth
English translation: Simon Knight
Further adaptation of lyrics: Jokey Lloyd & James O’Hanlon
UK singers: PaulHoward/Sarah Ross

Teacher / Facilitator Guide

Click here to download the teacher/facilitator guide with activities designed for 8-11 year olds, 11-14 year olds, and High Schoolers and adults.

October is Fair Trade Month

To us here at Reach and Teach, Fair Trade is one way to an equitable and just world economy, which provides living wages and improves quality of living standards for all the artisans, farmers and laborers involved. Our friends at Green America have a great page that explains what we mean by "Fair Trade." Click here to check out that page. (NOTE: We are certified by Green America as a green business, which includes us adhering to fair trade practices. We are also a California and San Mateo certified Green Business which means that we need to be intentional about the effect that everything we do and sell has on the planet.)

Reach And Teach sources our crafts and gifts from organizations that are either certified as Fair Trade or from organizations with whom we have a direct relationship. 

In addition to whole heartedly endorsing and selling Fair Trade products, we encourage each and every one of us to do our part to make our world equitable and increase the economic quality of living for all our fellow humans.

When you purchase something, take a look at where it is made and consider the people who made it, starting with the raw materials, to the finished good, to the transportation that got it from where it was assembled to where you are shopping, and look around at the hands that are helping you in that shop. Is it possible that you could somehow make choices that would be more helpful in creating the world you wish to see?

Here are some resources to help you get there.

Reach and Teach on Other VoicesA few years ago Paul George of the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center invited us to be on his monthly TV program, Other Voices, to talk about Fair Trade. It was a lot of fun AND very educational.


Other Voices TV: Shopping With a Conscience from PPJC Videos on Vimeo.




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