That's why last weekend, Batdorf and Bronson hosted a fundraiser to the tune of an Ethiopian celebration. The roastery partnered with Action 4 Words, an organization which aims to build schools near many of Ethiopia's coffee farms. Saturday's event raised $3,050 for the cause.
The night kicked off with some hand-brewed Ethiopian coffee...
...and some good conversation.
Next, Batdorf's Jason Dominy gave us a little background information about why this cause is so important to him. He explained that behind every bean he roasts, there are people on the other end. These people directly affect Batdorf's product, so the quality has to start with their quality of life. We then had a special screening of the documentary Black Gold.
Black Gold: Trailer from Speakit on Vimeo.
We discussed our responses to the very moving film, then ended the night with a celebration: first, with food...
...then with dancing...
...and finally, with a coffee ceremony.
It was an eye-opening night. Not only did we leave more aware of this issue, we also left with a greater appreciation of the culture these people share. I was proud to be able to support this cause.
When I was in graduate school, I traveled with my physical therapy program to South Georgia to treat orthopedic injuries among the migrant farm workers. We learned that these people were brought to this country with promises of a better life for themselves and their family. They're usually paid $1 for every four barrels of tomatoes that they harvest. Each of these barrels weighs about 30 pounds when they're full of tomatoes. Educating these individuals on the importance of body mechanics felt like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound, but I think losing our ignorance was even more important than the effectiveness of our treatment.
I had no idea that this was going on just a few hours from where I live. Tomatoes are something we can easily buy from ethical and sustainable farms, but coffee is something that we rely almost exclusively on importing. Unfortunately, this means that countries like Ethiopia get taken advantage of by countries like us and the EU. I don't always get my tomatoes from Whole Foods, where I can rest assured that they came from the farm down the road. Sometimes, money is tight and I can't afford the luxury of organic, local ethics. But every time I look at a tomato now, I wonder about its history. The same goes for coffee. I buy Batdorf coffee, but not exclusively. As much as it pains me to say this, my coffee maker doesn't have a drive-thru. We're only human and as members of one of the richest countries in the world, we have some hard habits to break. But I think if we're conscious of our choices and who our choices affect, we're influenced to make more meaningful choices more often. Even if I avoid a less ethical company one more time this month, I've done a little bit to make a difference.
Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. Are any of you passionate about agricultural issues?