by Dan Ruth
The first time I visited Nicaragua — one of the major coffee-producing countries in Central America and a focus of Ground Up: The LWR Coffee and Cocoa Initiative — I was perplexed that the only coffee we had to drink was prepackaged instant coffee. Nowhere in sight were the beautifully bistre roasted beans of the Sister’s Blend coffee I had grown accustomed to.
I quickly learned that the high quality coffee beans grown by the farmers I met were too valuable to keep in their own community. And although there was a concerted effort underway to encourage and enable local Nicaraguans to consume their own coffee, most of them relied on highly processed instant coffee for their own mornings.
I was reminded of this fact when I ran across the following video. This time, instead of coffee, it’s chocolate. An Ivory Coast-based news crew, Metropolis TV, brought chocolate bars to the farmers who make their living growing cocoa beans. These farmers admit they don’t really know what happens to the beans. They have never tasted chocolate before.
While this may be an extreme example, it is certainly true that many of the products we take for granted in the United States are luxuries to the people who grow and produce them.
This isn’t just about chocolate; it’s about food security
This isn’t just about whether or not farmers can afford to purchase high-quality chocolate or coffee. It’s about the access and availability of safe, nutritious food in general (a term we call food security).
Lutheran World Relief works with farmers across Africa, Latin America and Asia to improve their incomes, and therefore their food security.
So next time you bite into a bar of delicious, Fair Trade chocolate, think about where that chocolate comes from. Give thanks for the hands that grew it. And enjoy.
The global coffee and cocoa markets are worth more than $175 billion per year combined. But small-scale producers capture just a fraction of that value. With expertise developed over decades, LWR brings a unique perspective and skill set to improve producers’ lives, from the ground up.