Conor Woodman ~ Unfair Trade?

Conor Woodman UnFair Trade book cover image

Table of Contents

Unfair Trade explores

"How big business exploits the world's poor - and why it doesn't have to"

Conor Woodman – an investigative journalist, television presenter, author and public speaker- has looked at who we are and what we claim to do. 

How is it that our favourite brands can import billions of pounds’ worth of goods from the developing world every year, and yet leave the people who produce them barely scraping a living? Is it that big business is incompatible with the eradication of poverty? And, if so, are charity and fair trade initiatives the only way forward?

In Unfair Trade (2012), he traces a range of products back to their source to uncover who precisely is benefiting and who is losing out. He goes diving with lobster fishermen in Nicaragua who are dying in their hundreds to keep the restaurant tables of the US well stocked. He ventures into war-torn Congo to find out what the developed world’s insatiable demand for tin means for local miners.

And he risks falling foul of the authorities in Laos as he covertly visits the country’s burgeoning rubber plantations, established to supply Chinese factories that in turn supply the West with consumer goods. In the process, he tests accepted economic wisdom on the best way to create a fairer world – and suggests a simpler but potentially far more radical solution.

 

Researching how EA trades

Two chapters of the book feature Ethical Addictions. In chapter 2 – keen to be green,  he visits the warehouse in Gloucester, where he talks to Ian and Dave about their journey into selling coffee and why they chose to not go down the FairTrade route.

Then in chapter 7 – do it yourself, he travels to Tanzania, to meet people from two of the farms that EA work with. First he visits the coffee growers from the Orera Village. Then he meets the charismatic Bente, a German by birth who moved to Tanzania and now owns the Machare Farm, the first place we ever bought coffee from. 

Overall, his research of us and many others makes interesting observations and conclusions. We admit to being biased but these stories are really encouraging and our favourite part of the book 😉.

 

“That companies can make a powerful difference by actually doing the right thing rather than simply signing up to it is confirmed by a visit (to Ethical Addictions).” (p.53)

After visiting us in Gloucestershire he followed up on our supply chain to origin – to the Orera Village in Tanzania.

“The importance of coffee to the people who live on the mountain cannot be underestimated. The village has suffered greatly in the past 20 years . . . . Coffee is the only cash crop here, and Liliani and the other villagers are totally dependent on the price set by the market.

That is until recently, when the village found a new buyer and began selling its coffee to Ethical Addictions . . . . who felt they could afford to pay almost twice as much as the farmers had previously received.”  (p.170)

As you may have already gathered Ethical Addictions is not just about high quality coffee sourced direct, taking care to ensure producers are paid well and cared for, we are also concerned about the care shown to the environment, to preserve our great planet, natural habitats, and a future for us all. 

From the Back Cover

‘Conor Woodman takes the dismal out of the dismal science. He’s written an alternative travel guide to the global economy.’ Liam Halligan, Sunday Telegraph

How is it that our favourite brands can import billions of pounds’ worth of goods from the developing world every year, and yet leave the people who produce them barely scraping a living? Is it that big business is incompatible with the eradication of poverty? And, if so, are charity and fair trade initiatives the only way forward?

In Unfair Trade Conor Woodman traces a range of products back to their sourceto uncover who precisely is benefitting and who is losing out. He goes diving with lobster fishermen in Nicaragua who are dying in their hundreds to keep the restaurant tables of the US well stocked. He ventures into war-torn Congo to find out what the developed world’s insatiable demand for tin means for local miners. And he risks falling foul of the authorities in Laos as he covertly visits the country’s burgeoning rubber plantations, established to supply Chinese factories that in turn supply the West with consumer goods. In the process, he tests accepted economic wisdom on the best way to create a fairer world – and suggests a simpler but potentially far more radical solution.

Update

Unfair Trade was released in 2012 and eight years later, we are still happily doing business with both farms. You can see updates from each farm in the journal section of our website. There is sadly no longer a dart board in the offfice and Dave moved onto pastures new but still regularly pops in for a coffee and a catch up with Ian.

Check out some interviews we made in 2019 with four of the villagers from Orera to hear their stories.

One of the really positive aspects of this book is that Conor interviews a number of small independent businesses who are trying to do the right thing. Not only are their stories inspiring but it’s also a great place to discover new ethically minded businesses to buy from. It might even inspire you to setup your own ethically minded business!

The book is still available and we still recommend it as a good read.

Originally published 30/04/2012  Updated: 04/08/2020

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