"Where Am I Eating?" Highlights the People and Places Behind our Food

How one man's travelogue will make you want to buy Fair Trade

06/28/2013 - 12:00 PM

This blog post comes from Katie Barrow, Senior Manager of Communications at Fair Trade USA.  She met and travelled with Kelsey in the remote Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Northern Colombia.  This journey, and many others, is documented in Kelsey Timmerman's new book Where Am I Eating?

As soon as I met Kelsey TImmerman, I knew that he had one of the most interesting and amazing jobs in the world.  He travels around the world gathering the stories of the people who grow our food and sew our clothes. Upon spending a few hours with him and watching him work, I learned why: Kelsey is an incredible interviewer.  His caring presence and natural curiousity brings out fascinating anectdotes and stories from even the shyest of people.  And he has a knack for turning these notebooks and audio recorders full of stories and observations into chapters that make you feel as if you were right there with him. 

I am so excited to share this book with you. It was written for those of us who want to know more than just where  our food comes from, but who  our food comes from.

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is sharing the end result of an interview with the farmers.  Last week we brought a copy of Where Am I Eating? to Colombia to present to Cafe Anei, the coffee cooperative with a leading role in the book. Needless to say, they were quite proud to share their incredible story with the world.

Win a copy!

We want you, too, to have the opportunity to "travel" with Kelsey through the pages of his new book.  Scroll down for a chance to win a signed copy of your own.  You can also purchase it here in Kindle or Hardcover editions.

About Where Am I Eating?

Where Am I Eating? examines the unfair prices afforded to farmers, poverty, loss of cultural diversity and even slavery. Trying his own hand at picking the cherries on the steep, terraced hillsides in Northern Colombia or sharing a handful of hot steaming rice with farmers in Ivory Coast, Timmerman developed a deep appreciation for these people and the work they do. This book chronicles his discoveries, the relationships he formed with entire communities and the alternatives, such as Fair Trade, that exist to combat poverty and slavery.

Coffee from Colombia

While speaking with farmers and coffee producers in Colombia, Timmerman met Felipe, a young coffee farmer. “The problem is that there are too many middlemen between producers and consumers,” Felipe said. Following the steps along the supply chain that a coffee bean travels, Timmerman discovers that conventional coffee farmers earn only 93 cents from the sale of a $10 bag of coffee.

In an effort to find an alternative to the reality many coffee farmers face, Timmerman travelled to the Café Anei Association, a Fair Trade Certified coffee cooperative run by indigenous Arhuaco Indians in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern Colombia. There he met Aurora, a single mother and Fair Trade activist, who is one of the founders and heroes of this coffee co-op. Café Anei collectively chose to invest its Fair Trade Premium in a crop diversification and food security program that alleviates child hunger for its families.  Fair Trade his helping this community nourish and educated its children, so that they can remain in this sacred region and preserve their culture for many years to come.

Cocoa from the Ivory Coast

Travelling next to the Ivory Coast in the hopes of charting the path of cocoa, Timmerman discovered more about the region and the people than he had banked on. The Ivory Coast produces 52% of the cocoa consumed in the United States, yet extreme poverty plagues the region and farmers are beholden to volatile commodity markets.

Michael, a cocoa farmer in Ivory Coast lives in a mud hut, and despite working hard in his cocoa fields, the 50-60 cents he earns per kilogram of cocoa is not enough to feed his family a balanced diet or continue to send his children to school in the neighboring town. So what can we do? “Buying Fair Trade chocolate is one of the few ways that we can show we care as consumers,” Timmerman writes.  

Where do we go from here?

As Timmerman recalls his travels and the farmers and communities he met, it quickly becomes clear that the things we eat, enjoy and take for granted are actually grown and harvested by people who struggle to put food on their dinner tables. Where Am I Eating, investigates the food we eat every day.

“By uncovering the realities of our global food economy, Kelsey empowers his readers to turn the trade of essential commodities into a powerful level for poverty alleviation and social change.  You will never look at a bar of chocolate or a cup of coffee the same way again.” – Paul Rice

This is where Fair Trade can make a difference. Fair Trade guarantees farmers fair wages, good working conditions and development premiums so they can empower themselves and their communities and see sustainable changes for future generations.  So the next time you reach for that cup of coffee, take a second to think about who grew the coffee beans that made that brew and ask yourself: Where am I eating?


Enter to win a copy of the book!

We are giving away 6 copies of Where Am I Eating?. Just login with Facebook or register your email below to see all the ways you can enter the giveaway!

Where Am I Eating? giveaway
06/28/2013 - 12:00 PM
06/28/2013 - 1:00 PM