Both of my grandfathers were farmers and I saw first hand how hard they worked for basically nothing. The big companies and middlemen got all the profits.
One of my best coffees is from Guatemala where they are just emerging from a long civil war. On the farms you see lots of women and few men. Fair Trade USA is there organizing co-ops, starting schools, opening clinics and training the people how to grow, pick and process coffee. Coffee instead of plants for the drug lords.
We get high quality coffee plus the satisfaction of knowing where our money is going. With every harvest the quality is improving. With every cup of coffee we know some poor farmer is smiling because she (more likely than he) has medical care, the kids are learning to read and write, and when she is paid for the coffee beans, she knows what she is going to get, and whether or not she was cheated. Did I forget to tell you about the organic sustainable farming they are being taught, with the replanting of native trees and reuse of all waste? By providing habitat for my summer birds, the farmers don't need insecticide, because the birds eat the bugs. And I have the satisfaction of knowing I am making a difference!
For more information about Fair Trade log onto www.FairTradeUSA.org..