Who has the hardest job in the coffee value chain? Is it the farmer, who has to create just the right growing conditions for each single coffee plant, countering unpredictable climate, droughts and deluges, pests and diseases and an uncertain economic future year after year? The processor, who has to balance the orders he gets from … Continue reading The Hardest Job Of All
Coffee is known to have some of the most volatile prices of any agricultural commodity. The crux of agricultural markets is this: There is always an imbalance of supply and demand. If supply is smaller than demand, prices soar. This animates more producers to plant the crop in the following year to reap high earnings. … Continue reading Hey Mon, What’s Up with Jamaican Coffee?
I peek around the corner of the grocery store. Well, I guess ‘store’ is a misnomer – distribution point, maybe? I am shy at first because I am wary of being an obnoxious foreigner, treating Havana as an open-air museum full of entertaining quirks that actually make up Cubans’ reality. But the clerk waves me … Continue reading State-Sponsored Food Security: The Cuban Case. Does It Work?
In light of the recent news out of Greece, I decided to revisit an old post of mine that is 2 years old almost to the month (fancy this blog existing so long) and do some more research on how Greeks have fared that choose farming as a last resort in an economic crisis with … Continue reading Revisited: Gre(x)scape Into The Countryside
The story of Kampot pepper begins 800 years ago. At least according to written records: Chinese explorer Tchéou Ta Kouan traveled Cambodia in the 13th century and famously referenced the crop that came to define a whole region. Apparently, it is likely that some of his countrymen brought the crop along when they immigrated from the Hainan province of … Continue reading Kampot Pepper: A History Spanning Civilizations
When we visited the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), they received us with smiles full of passion, but also visibly exhausted. In this country, trying to ensure the protection of political, economic and social rights with a staff of six and a minuscule budget could seem like a quixotic battle. … Continue reading Flashback to Cambodia: Of Land Titling and Land Grabbing
This is supposed to be the beginning of the rainy season. Normally, this means sunny mornings and a few hours of rain in the afternoon (sometimes real deluges) in the afternoon. But normally doesn’t exist here anymore. “We have never had overcast mornings until a couple of years ago. Now I feel like I am … Continue reading Climate Change is Felt in Costa Rica! An Example from Coffee Producers.
My usual fruit vendor smiles at me regretfully. “You want avocados? Well, we have some. The problem – they are veery expensive.” Instinctively, this comes as no surprise to my German brain – in Europe good avocados are a luxury good with few equals. But then I check this thought process: we are in Central … Continue reading Costa Rica’s Avocado Crisis
One of my favorite things about writing this blog is that it enables me to have really interesting conversations with really interesting people. Case in point: when I visited Monteverde, I knew that this was where Kenneth Lander, the co-founder of one of the most interesting business models in the coffee world out there, had … Continue reading A Transcontinental Farmers’ Market: Exclusive Interview with Kenneth Lander from THRIVE Farmers
By Helena Robling It’s always sensitive to touch upon people’s meat consumption. As a topic for discussion it’s comparable to religion or party politics, everybody has an opinion, standpoints are usually quite firm and not seldom extreme. Saying YES or NO to meat can be as decisive for social identity as religious or ideological convictions, … Continue reading Going controversial about the burger bind: how about a meat tax?