Monthly Archives: March 2008

Did Your Shopping List Kill a Songbird?

- The New York Times

THOUGH a consumer may not be able to tell the difference, a striking red and blue Thomas the Tank Engine made in Wisconsin is not the same as one manufactured in China — the paint on the Chinese twin may contain dangerous levels of lead. In the same way, a plump red tomato from Florida is often not the same as one grown in Mexico. The imported fruits and vegetables found in our shopping carts in winter and early spring are grown with types and amounts of pesticides that would often be illegal in the United States.

In this case, the victims are North American songbirds. Bobolinks, called skunk blackbirds in some places, were once a common sight in the Eastern United States. In mating season, the male in his handsome tuxedo-like suit sings deliriously as he whirrs madly over the hayfields. Bobolink numbers have plummeted almost 50 percent in the last four decades, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. (more…)

Urbana teacher heads to Brazil to study fair trade

- Frederick News Post - Maryland

For a week this summer, while her pupils relax at the beach and head to camp, Ellen Georgi will be traveling in Brazil.
Georgi, who teaches sixth- and seventh-grade social studies at Urbana Middle School, will head to South America with nine other U.S. teachers to study fair trade farming and its effect on the environment and the economy.

“They were so sweet, they broke into applause when I told them,” she said of her pupils.

The trip is part of a program sponsored by Sam’s Club, the nonprofit group TransFair USA and coffee roaster Cafe Bom Dia. (more…)

The Global Rose as Social Tool

- The New York Times

NAIVASHA, Kenya – The view persists that a rose is a rose is a rose. But that’s so 20th century! In this new era a rose is a global product vested with the power to bring social and environmental change.

I am not asking you to remove the romance from a rose, for that would be asking too much, but as you pick out blooms for your beloved at the supermarket, try resetting your rose associations in order to see the world as it is.

From here in Kenya’s Rift Valley, Longonot Horticulture exports 90,000 rose stems a day. Its rose bushes come in red, yellow, orange, white, pink and cerise. Whatever color bunch a London or Copenhagen supermarket needs, it will provide pronto. (more…)

Global ethical revolution is driving growth in fair-trade sales

- Drinks Business Review

From its humble beginnings in the 1950s, fair-trade has developed into a global movement. A new report by Datamonitor reveals that fair-trade sales across Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand, and Japan have experienced double digit growth since 2002. This growth is being driven by an increased consumer awareness of ethical issues and environmental concerns. (more…)

Square deal: Fair trade chocolate for fundraisers

- Belleville News-Democrat

FRESNO, Calif. –For many folks, chocolate is a guilty pleasure. But for eighth-graders at Mountain Home Charter School in Oakhurst, Calif., a chocolate fundraiser inspired only guilt.

That’s because about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa – taken from the cacao tree to make chocolate – comes from West Africa, where reports of abusive child labor have circulated for years.

Alarmed by the evidence, eighth-grader Masha Bluestein hoped to change Mountain Home’s fundraiser for a class trip to Catalina Island. So she and her mother, Cordia Bluestein, pitched an idea to the other parents: Instead of selling any old chocolate, let’s choose chocolate that’s certified fair trade. (more…)

BSC professor helps students explore world through coffee

- Patriot Ledger

BRIDGEWATER — Something is brewing in Professor James Hayes-Bohanan’s geography courses.

Hayes-Bohanan, 44, offers a bottomless cup of geography in his two Bridgewater State College courses: the Geography of Coffee, with study tours to Nicaraguan coffee farms, and the Secret Life of Coffee, in which students make connections with a map, photograph and cup of joe.

“As a geographer, I like things that express something about place,” said Hayes-Bohanan, an associate professor and chairman of the college’s geography department.

“Coffee helps me establish connections to places and makes it a little more interesting,” he said. (more…)