Tip your (non)local coffee-bean picker

We’re spoiled in the US. We get to drink premium coffee from the best farms in the world, and at a reasonable price. But many of the farm-workers involved in actually making that cortado a reality generally aren’t compensated equitably.

Some people would be willing to pay more for coffee if they knew that increase was going to support the workers who need and deserve it, but making that change through the traditional economy of producers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers is extremely difficult. Even direct-trade coffee partnerships are subject to the demands of the global coffee industry, which must feed a voracious worldwide caffeine habit.

Propina is trying to side-step the traditional model of farm-worker compensation by allowing people to support farm-workers by making a direct contribution to a farm-worker’s pension fund when they’re at the till of their favorite coffee shop. In-shop videos like the one above drive awareness while patrons wait in line to make their order. Additionally, similar to the Patreon model, patrons can become recurring contributors and get updates from the farm.

Why it’s hot

1. Using technology to bridge the gap from producer to consumer empowers money-havers to give to a cause they believe in.

2. Technology shrinking the world, making something global feel like more of a local connection.

3. We may see more of these “capitalism hacks” that attempt to use technology to circumvent systemic inequalities that otherwise seem insurmountable.

Why it’s not hot

1. Like the US server-tipping model, this idea could potentially drive down guaranteed wages for farm workers if employers see them gaining any amount of significant external compensation. In a sense, this idea only works well if it remains an insignificant portion of a farm workers livelihood.

2. This model relies on the generosity of the globally wealthy to “support” poor farm workers, instead of creating systems of equitable exchange that account for the needs of all stakeholders. Admittedly, the latter is a much more difficult challenge.

Source: Contagious

‘Tinder for Cows’ Helps Farmers Find Perfect Matches

From the makers of the UK’s SellMyLivestock website comes a new Tinder-style app for cattle farmers. Tudder provides an easy way for farmers to locate breeding matches by viewing profiles of cattle and their age, location, and owner. A swipe right to show interest directs farmers to the SellMyLivestock platform, which 1/3 of the UK’s farmers are already using.

While the marketing of the app includes playful language such as “seeks to unite sheepish farm animals with their soulmates,” the purpose is quite functional. Bringing a bull to a physical market is tedious and takes time away from other farm responsibilities. On the app, farmers can quickly search for organic or pedigree cattle, find out the cow’s health information, and get in touch with owners to make an offer.

Why It’s Hot

The app is a playful, easy way to facilitate cattle transactions — bringing real digital innovation to a timeless practice.

Source: http://time.com/5526883/tinder-cows/ 

Spinach Saves Oranges

Florida’s orange growers have been losing trees to “citrus greening” disease for over a decade. The two most popular options are genetic engineering or breeding immune trees, both pose challenges as no naturally immune tress seem to exist and genetically modified trees would take 10-20 years to mature and test and would bare the ever unpopular GMO label.

Enter science. The search for a solution landed on vaccination,  with “One particularly promising set of genes coming from the spinach plant, coding for a group of antibacterial proteins called defensins.” For a state that has lost almost 70% production since this elegant solution may be the answer, especially considering trees treated with the vaccine would not need to carry the GMO label. In tests since 2010, on Monday the US Department of Agriculture posted a notice that it intends to conduct an environmental impact assessment, meaning if all goes well. the vaccine should be in wide distribution by 2019.

More on Citrus Greening:

Why It’s Hot: 

  • Biotechnology can be both scary and brilliantly useful. the debate goes on
  • There was no mention of it, but curious of what impact, if any the Trump administration will have on such ventures since they have stated wanted to push these types of innovation through the market
  • What is the cost/benefit of using these types of solutions or genetic modification if it keeps people in work and commodity prices down?