"Fair Trade" Thursdays Begin At Cosmos

LA MESA -- Last fall, a group of people interested in encouraging local consumers to think about "fair trade'' practices went to the City Council and asked it to declare La Mesa a "fair trade'' city.

The issue seemed to come out of nowhere and was quickly voted down amid much angst and comment throughout the politically active parts of the city.

That experience clearly had an effect on Anne Pacheco, Nancy Ryan, Denise Thompson and other members of Fair Trade La Mesa.

Thursday evening the organization was back in action at Cosmos Coffee Cafe, presenting a DVD explanation of "fair trade'' practices and building local support one constituent at a time.

"All the coffee here at Cosmos is fair trade,'' Ryan explained to a gathering of 30 or so local residents who were eating "fair trade'' chocolate and learning about the movement Ryan and her partners hoped to demystify.

"It is simply about knowing that the things you purchase are made by people who are being paid a living wage, allowed to work in safe conditions and in a way that is respectful of the environment,'' Thompson explained.

Ryan and Pacheco, both educators in their work lives, admitted they were a bit bruised by their first attempt to convince the City Council to express the city's support for the movement and they don't plan on racing back to that forum. Critics convinced a majority of the council that the city would be dabbling in an issue beyond its authority and, in some views, tainting the free market with government interference.

"We won't go back until the council is better informed,'' Ryan said. "They need to understand this more fully.''

In the meantime, the local fair trade movement is winning the support of local organizations and individual businesses, trying to build a city-wide concensus that this city should express its support to the rest of the country and the world.

"Wouldn't it be a good thing for La Mesa to stand out on this?'' Pacheco asked in explaining why the council imprimatur is still important.

The group's pamphlets list more than 26 local businesses that have begun offering products that are certified to meet fair trade requirements, including big stores like Albertson's and smaller operations like Marcella June's Coffee Lounge.

"Every time you shop, the choices you make can make a statement about social justice,'' a spokesman on the DVD explained.

And from a taste tasting of "fair trade'' British KitKats being enjoyed this evening, the "fair trade'' KitKats taste just like the original.

The group plans regular events every third Thursday evening at Cosmos as they continue to meet with individual business owners and community groups.




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Tags: Albertson's, Anne Pacheco, City Council, City of La Mesa, Cosmos, Cosmos Coffee Cafe, Denise Thompson, KitKats, La Mesa, La Mesa City Council, More…La Mesa News, La Mesa Today, Macella June's Coffee Lounge, Nancy Ryan, fair trade


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Comment by La Mesa Chamber of Commerce on January 21, 2012 at 12:02pm

Glad you liked them.  Does the City have to officially endorse them or be required to serve them at City meetings?

Comment by Sara Kazemi on January 19, 2012 at 11:02pm

I was there working on my lesson plan for tomorrow. I am totally hooked on those Angell bars. So good!

Comment by David Smyle on January 19, 2012 at 10:32pm

This groups mission according to their own website as part of the City resolution is to have the City serve only Fair Trade items at its meetings.  Doesn't sound very American to me.  Isn't that a restriction on free trade forcing the City to only buy from certain merchants?  What is wrong with you people!!!!!  Hey, those are my tax dollars going to buy that stuff.  I say no so unless you can get at least 51% of the voting public to agree to restrict who the City buys from.  Shame on you La Mesa Today for not making a point of this goal #5 in your article puff piece giving this group exactly what they wanted in point number 4 of the manifesto.

Comment by Scott H. Kidwell on January 19, 2012 at 10:16pm

Notwithstanding the moral superiorty on display in comments by the movement sponsors, I believe the majority of the city council saw through the emotional based hype and perfectly understood what was at stake in the vote to not provide official sanction of this nationally organized social justice political agenda. It really doesn't mater whether 30, 300, 3000, or 30,000 people show up at a FTT event. Those are personal choices of consumers and this city's council simply has no business endorseing the way this business consortium chooses to market their products to consumers.

Comment by David Smyle on January 19, 2012 at 9:54pm

Let's be clear.  Winning the support of local organizations (whoever they are since they weren't mentioned and whatever winning the support means) does not mean involving the City to proclaim itself a "Fair Trade City or proclaiming January 19th official Fair Trade Day or any other symbolic gesture as part of this movement.  If Ms. Pacheco, Thompson and Ryan want to educate the population on what they consider the merits of their movement, power to them.  Leave the City out of it.  You can accomplish all you want by letting people shop for so called Fair Trade items if they want to and leave it at that.  Why they think the City has to "officially become involved" is again not what the City should be doing.  As far as the La Mesa Today reporting on this, are you just going to do a puff piece or dig into their claims and substantiate them?  Does a fair living wage mean they get $.20/hr versus $.10?  Beware La Mesa!  The Fair Trade movement states they have accomplished 4 of their 5 goals and #5 is to have the City Council pass a resolution in 2012 naming itself a Fair Trade City.  No, we are Free Trade City and we don't need a proclamation to be that.  Free trade means we can choose to buy or not buy items from any store and if it makes you feel good buying coffee from whatever third world country you choose, power to you.  Why don't we pass a resolution that we are an American City or a Patriotic City?  See how silly this is?  We already are that and if stores are carrying free trade products, the City is already a Fair Trade City without officially calling itself one.  Ok, come on now people, lets get out there and save the world one country at a time!

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