Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Fair Trade, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America

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Our morning cups of coffee connect us to a global industry and an export crisis in the tropics that is destroying livelihoods, undermining the cohesion of families and communities, and threatening ecosystems. Confronting the Coffee Crisis explores small-scale farming, the political economy of the global coffee industry,and initiatives that claim to promote more sustainable rural development in coffee-producing communities. Contributors review the historical, political,economic, and agroecological processes within today's coffee industry and analyze the severely depressed export market that faces small-scale growers in Mexico and Central America. The book presents a series of interdisciplinary, empirically rich case studies showing how small-scale farmers manage ecosystems and organize collectively as they seek useful collaborations with international NGOs and coffee companies to create opportunities for themselves in the coffee market. The findings demonstrate the interconnections among farmer livelihoods,biodiversity, conservation, and changing coffee markets. Additional chapters examine alternative trade practices, certification, and eco-labeling, discussing the politics and market growth of organic, shade-grown, and Fair Trade coffees.

Combining interdisciplinary research with case-study analysis at scales ranging from the local to the global, Confronting the Coffee Crisis reveals the promise and the perils of efforts to create a more sustainable coffee industry.

Christopher M. Bacon is a researcher associated with the Environmental Studies and Sociology Departments at the University of California,Santa Cruz. V. Ernesto Méndez is Assistant Professor in the Environmental Program and Department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont. Stephen R.

Gliessman is Alfred Heller Professor of Agroecology at the University of California,Santa Cruz, where David Goodman is Professor of Environmental Studies and Jonathan A. Fox is Professor in the Latin American and Latino Studies Department.

ContributorsChristopher M. Bacon, David B. Bray, Sasha Courville, Jonathan A. Fox, Stephen R. Gliessman, David Goodman, Carlos Guadarrama-Zugasti, Shayna Harris, Roberta Jaffe, María Elena Martinez-Torres, V.

Ernesto Méndez, Ellen Contreras Murphy, Tad Mutersbaugh, Seth Petchers, José Luis Plaza-Sanchez, Laura Trujillo, Silke Mason Westphal

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

"Academics and practitioners working in the field of sustainable development acknowledge that economic, social, political, and ecological dimensions of development are interconnected and need to be understood and addressed simultaneously. Yet few books actually achieve such an integrated approach.
Confronting the Coffee Crisis does so admirably and should become a standard reference for all concerned not only with the world of coffee but also with the broader challenge of inclusive development."--Peter Utting, Deputy Director, United
Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

The MIT Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262524803
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 2/29/2008
  • Series: Food, Health, and the Environment
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

V. Ernesto Méndez is Assistant Professor in the Environmental Program and
Department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont.

David Goodman is Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of
California, Santa Cruz.

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Table of Contents

Foreword   Robert Gottlieb     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Context and Analytical Framework
The International Coffee Crisis: A Review of the Issues   David Goodman     3
Agroecological Foundations for Designing Sustainable Coffee Agroecosystems   Stephen R. Gliessmann     27
The Roots of the Coffee Crisis   Seth Petchers   Shayna Harris     43
Ecological and Social Dimensions of Producers' Responses
Coffee-Production Strategies in a Changing Rural Landscape: A Case Study in Central Veracruz, Mexico   Laura Trujillo     69
The Benefits and Sustainability of Organic Farming by Peasant Coffee Farmers in Chiapas, Mexico   Maria Elena Martinez-Torres     99
A Grower Typology Approach to Assessing the Environmental Impact of Coffee Farming in Veracruz, Mexico   Carlos Guadarrama-Zugasti     127
Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Can Fair Trade, Organic, and Specialty Coffees Reduce the Vulnerability of Small-Scale Farmers in Northern Nicaragua?   Christopher M. Bacon     155
Coffee Agroforestry in the Aftermath of Modernization: Diversified Production and Livelihood Strategies in Post-Reform Nicaragua   Silke Mason Westphal     179
Farmers' Livelihoods and Biodiversity Conservation in a Coffee Landscape of El Salvador   V. Ernesto Mendez     207
Alternative South-North Networks and Markets
Social Dimensions of Organic Coffee Production in Mexico: Lessons for Eco-Labeling Initiatives   David B. Bray   Jose Luis Plaza Sanchez   Ellen Contreras Murphy     237
Serve and Certify: Paradoxes of Service Work in Organic Coffee Certification   Tad Mutersbaugh     261
Organic and Social Certifications: Recent Developments from the Global Regulators   Sasha Courville     289
From Differentiated Coffee Markets toward Alternative Trade and Knowledge Networks   Roberta Jaffe   Christopher M. Bacon     311
Cultivating Sustainable Coffee: Persistent Paradoxes   Christopher M. Bacon   V. Ernesto Mendez   Jonathan A. Fox     337
About the Contributors     373
Index     377
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