100% Ethically Traded Espresso

Just to update you on the Starbucks Situation — they got my attention and then we had a short correspondence.  What bothers me is their claim that their espresso is ‘100% ethically traded’.  I’ve put the most recent exhange in the comments section of this post.  The kind person on their end is giving me links, rather than answering my question directly.  (I did follow the links, but I don’t think there’s an answer in there.)  The question, roughly, is this:  how can trades which result in unnecessary human suffering on the one hand and profits in the billions on the other be ‘100% ethical’?  If it’s true that some growers are malnourished and impoverished, making perhaps $1.10 per pound of coffee while Starbucks makes $160, then the exchange is not fair or equitable or ethical.  It’s exploitation.  The profit comes from not paying a lot of people a living wage.  Maybe that’s not much different, from a moral point of view,  from harming someone for money. 

Anyway, I’m going to stop bothering them and leave this to you.  I think I have my conclusion.  The topic of greenwashing, by the way, has just been discussed in this interesting article from The Guardian.

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