Welcome. :)

Welcome to my blog. Here I share my successes and failures along my journey to becoming an anthropologist. My most prominent interest anthropologically are the new approaches to handing food security/healthy eating in the US, particularly in urban "food deserts". I enjoy the Anthropology of Tourism as well; combining food and tourism has scholarly promise. My other interests which have converted into anthropological hobbies of sorts include converts to Islam, diaspora of Muslims, and MENA in general. I also have some interest in historical archaeology.

I welcome comments, discussion and even respectful debating. I will however keep discussions to a respectable level. I reserve the right to ban anyone from this forum.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fair Trade

This is a short paper I wrote in my second semester as an anthro student. I think I have grown in my writing since then but this is an interesting topic. I wrote this for Nutritional Anthropology

“Poverty is not only about a shortage of money. It is about rights and relationships; about how people are treated and how they regard themselves; about powerlessness, exclusion and loss of dignity. Yet the lack of adequate income is at its heart.”
-Mahatma Gandhi (2005: 246)

Poverty, overworked employees, inconsistent pay schedules and unsafe working conditions are just a few of the exploitive problems international producers of goods (in this case coffee and chocolate) face when not working with a fair trade company. However, there are many companies, even some locally, selling high quality fair trade products to consumers; while doing so; they are giving back quality of life to millions of people around the globe. Here, I will give a brief description of what fair trade is, how it positively affects the producer, examples of fair trade and finally, I will talk about where the US consumer can buy these fantastic products.

There are thousands of products in the marketplace that claim fair trade (usually with a label) but what is it and how does it affect the people who produce these products? In short, according to Kimberly M. Grimes, “The marketers agree to pay fair wages to the artisans and farmers (based on producer’s basic needs, costs of production, and margins for investment); provide advance payments for working capital; purchase goods directly from the producers; eliminating the chain of the middlemen speculators; and provide technical and financial assistance when necessary.(2005:239)” On its website, the Fair Trade Federation also mentions the following agreements between marketers and producers: respect for the local culture, giving the producers a healthy working environment and increasing the growth in the community through education.

Regarding different examples of fair trade consumable and fresh products, in the US those products include coffee, tea, cocoa/chocolate, honey, sugar, fresh fruit, rice, vanilla, flowers and herbs. According to their website, Trans Fair USA is a “third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the U.S. TransFair's rigorous audit system verifies industry compliance with Fair Trade criteria.”

There are many websites that specialize in fair trade of coffee and chocolate. Incidentally, there are many more fair trade sites that sell non-consumables such as artesian goods but I will limit this to coffee and chocolate. One of my favorite products and has a dual message is ‘Peace Coffee’. I have bought this coffee many times and find it to be some of the best I have had! According to the Thanksgiving Coffee website who is a marketer of this coffee, the coffee producer has Jewish, Muslims and Christians working side by side for a common goal; working for peace is something we all know is needed in this world climate. The marketer sells fair trade coffees from around the world. I have attached a few websites on the citation page for further inquiry. If one wants to buy fair trade coffee locally Transfair USA website has provided the consumer with a list of local companies who carry fairly traded coffees. For example, Whole Foods carries a wide selection; Wal-Mart’s ‘Sam’s Choice’ coffee is affordable; Target’s ‘Archer Farms’ coffee is fairly traded, as is Costco’s ‘Kirkland Signature’ Coffee and finally, Dunkin Donuts’ espresso.

Chocolate and cocoa is another consumable that has some fantastic products on the market. One cocoa company has a huge UK following and the products can be ordered or purchased right here in the U.S. Divine Chocolate has a huge variety of cocoa and chocolate products to satisfy even the most intense chocolate cravings! The Divine Chocolate website not only has a great variety of products but the products have great packaging that catches the eye and makes an attractive gift. In addition, on the Global Exchange website, one can purchase a variety of chocolate products that are fairly traded. Locally, one can purchase fair trade chocolate at Whole Foods market (and probably other “natural food stores”).

In conclusion, I have only touched the surface on the topic of fair trade. More and more, I find people concerned about moral issues surrounding the foods they eat. Fair trade success depends on us-the consumer. I believe that purchasing products to fit our value system is a statement in itself. Personally, I have been making fair trade choices (with coffee in particular) for a couple of years now and find that it is my own statement against large company greed and abuse of the weak around the world.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just a little note, hodge podge of thoughts

The summer is really about over and I sit here wondering where it went, I wonder if I will ever get the GRE studying finished in time before the semester begins. For those who do not know, I went to visit the College Of Sciences and found out that I need 6 classes to graduate. I am over the ranting and raving about it. I will just do it.

Roughly, here is what I signed up for after spending 4 hours last week at the uni going back and forth from office to office.

Human Origins (req)
History of Anthro Thought (req)
Independent Study (3 credits)
Intro to Women's Studies (online)
3rd Wave Feminisms (online)
and drum roll folks (not really...) Ethnology of Native Americans (also online).

Please get my straight jacket ready.....lol

Initially, I *thought* I needed 2 and I added the independent study in for interest and the fact that I will be using my fall research to write my article in The Florida Anthropologist (publishing date is in a year or so). Speaking of that, I have been informed that "my" article will have me as the first author and the project leader as the second and his archaeology student as the third. I am so cool with that btw.

What else is on the brain tonight? Ok, well, I saw this recently

I was speaking to my friend Tara bean and she thinks they look great just like I do. I personally would get one made as a permanent structure. I have 2 cats that would not enjoy 65 sq ft home living. lol I was thinking my butt would have problems turning around. Kidding on that one. :P

Plus, Tara and I discussed the risk of a big gust of wind and I said that it would blow one of these to Kansas. :) Of course, if one was in KSA, that is one strong wind, as it would be from Florida.

Look here for the YouTube show. lol

I am thinking that small home living will suit me well once grad school is over.

On another note, I watched 'Global Voices' PBS today. It was about Somali refugees to the US. An NGO helped facilitate their arrival. I thought it would be fun to be a case worker for such an organization. I went to the website and for the life of me, I forgot the name. Well, they sure have many jobs for case workers but one has to be a Christian to be hired.Blew that bubble! No evangelical jobs for this gal. :)

Watch if you like.

Those are all the immediate things on the brain. The GRE is my main thought now. I have a friend who will lend me the money to get the materials I need. I am filled with time but no cashola. lol

the anthrogeek