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Starbucks needs Fair Trade coffee

Letter to the Editor | Monday, December 4, 2006

While large coffee companies such as Starbucks earn millions per day, coffee bean farmers on the other hand, only get paid pennies per pound of coffee beans. Not only are most people unaware of this large gap, but they are also unaware of a group of products called Fair Trade that allows for some evening of this large imbalance. Since only a few people understand what Fair Trade truly means, then an incentive to cause more awareness would be the most logical approach to solving such a problem, especially in our Notre Dame community.

As one of the world’s foremost Catholic universities, Notre Dame needs to lead by example of how a group can move in a socially conscious way. The Student Senate wants to take social responsibility to the point of eliminating conventional coffee and selling only Fair Trade coffee on campus. I completely agree with this direction concerning Fair Trade coffee and the goals the Student Senate has set.

First, Notre Dame’s strong Catholic identity calls the community to move in a direction in accordance to Catholic value. To support a business that is both selfish and morally wrong because it exploits coffee bean farmers in order to gain more revenue would go against Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. It is Notre Dame’s responsibility to uphold its Catholic identity and be an example to other universities as well as the larger community in all facets of Catholic teaching.

Secondly, Notre Dame currently owns the Starbucks location on its campus, which happens to sell the most coffee products, but ironically does not have Fair Trade coffee available. If Notre Dame desires to be more socially responsible, it needs to begin making big changes, starting with the availability of Fair Trade products at the one location that sells the most coffee.

Finally, spreading the understanding of the benefits of Fair Trade coffee may result in alleviating poverty to some degree and increasing the quality of life for many individuals, their families and the surrounding society. Although many people detest the thought of increasing the price of their already expensive lattes, they probably would also agree that a few cents here and there can’t hurt too much. And for some, this extra spare change may mean the difference between today and tomorrow.

Jonathan Lee


Keenan Hall

Nov. 30