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Dukale's Dream and the irony of doing good

July 24, 2015 Joe Ornato

A new documentary was forwarded to me by a good friend this past week.  It is titled, "Dukale's Dream" and is about a young farmer in Ethiopia who is doing his best to make a living for himself and his children for the future with the production of coffee in Ethiopia.  Immediately I was excited to see a newer documentary examining the importance of organic production & ethical sourcing of coffee beans.  Moreover, it stars Hugh Jackman as he champions the cause to support and bring to our attention how our purchasing decisions affect real people around the world.

As the film progressed, it was easy to decipher that this was a plug for World Vision Australia, with whom Hugh Jackman works closely - I have nothing against that so far.  Sure a celebrity wants to champion a cause - it's good for business and it also gives someone who has been blessed with financial fortune and "star power" to use those resources to try and do something good.

The part that I really loved about the film was seeing just how simple Dukale and his family lived.  They hand prune, hand dig, and even use the manure from their animals to generate methane gas and use a converter to harness that gas to cook with on a gas burner - freakin cool!  I might even figure out a way to do this with my sceptic system! 

The film portrayed Hugh Jackman as a down to earth celebrity who really wanted to understand the source of his coffee pleasure.

Upon arriving back to New York, Hugh starts asking different coffee shops if they serve FairTrade® coffee.  Of course, the shops he gets to don't know what that is, which I find surprising in a trend setting city such as New York.  This City knows coffee and knows it well.  I wonder if the shops who didn't know what FairTrade® coffee was were targeted just for the film?? Nonetheless, getting people to understand the notion of fairly traded coffee is Hugh's objective.

FairTrade® is a certification that guarantees a price above commodity prices for coffee, which is supposed to filter down to the farmer.  However, the system is flawed and quite often forces a farmer to sell lower quality beans as FairTrade® in order to  make more money.  Humans who are in desperate need will generally give in to short cuts when more money is involved, especially when their governments are corrupt.  Of course not all humans are like this, but we can't ignore the effects of desperation. (Check out this really informative review on FairTrade® coffee by Stanford Social Review)  I am fan of certifications PROVIDED THAT YOUR SUPPLIER CAN TRACE THE ORIGINS OF THAT COFFEE both in its production and its economic benefits to the farmers and co-operatives. (The is why I love the Café Femenino cause so much)

Back to the documentary:

Hugh also really hits home on how Dukale's carbon footprint is better than his own even though Hugh has all the money & resources to reduce his footprint.  When asked about his own carbon footprint and if it has changed in an interview after the film debuted, Hugh says that he is now drinking FairTrade® coffee - I am just baffled at this one???  His major choice to help reduce his carbon footprint is to drink FairTrade® coffee??? 

By the end of the film, Hugh Jackman decides that he's going to open a coffee shop which will buy only FairTrade® coffee.  His gift to Dukale is a framed picture of the two of them and a commitment to buying from Dukale, but there is often an interaction with the manager of the co-operative exchange that leads me to believe that Dukale will most likely get to offer his beans for sale at FairTrade® prices to the co-op rather than be able to sell directly to Hugh Jackman's café - which would help him as a farmer way more!  You see, a co-operative is almost like a community centre for coffee beans whereby farmers can pool their beans in order to get a large enough quantity to be able to sell to global buyers.

 

The film ends with a written statement that says Dukale's Dream (the trademarked name that Hugh Jackman's enterprise uses for the coffee) has partnered with Keurig and Green Mountain coffee to sell this coffee in K-Cup format.

Carbon footprint, FairTrade®, Dukale & his family - erased by the marketing of the corporate world!

Want to know why?  Check out some information below.

I think it's still worth watching the film, but notice the ironies that play out as the film unfolds.

 

Statistics on K-Cup style drinking:

. The best estimates say the Keurig pods buried in 2014 would actually circle the Earth not 10.5 times, but more than 12 

• Pod cups of coffee cost you anywhere from $25 to $45 per pound when weighed out.

• Last year Keurig sold 9 billion K-cups, the majority of which likely ended up in landfills.

• Pod style machines can harbour bacteria if not maintained - who maintains them?

 


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