Nell Newman knows what’s in a cup of ‘Joe’

Nell Newman, the daughter of actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, will be visiting USF on Friday to talk to students about organic coffee, Newman’s Own Organics recent entry into the world of fair trade and how fair trade affects different countries around the world.

The presentation called “What’s in your coffee?” will specifically cover topics such as new consumer trends with regards to organic coffee and fair trade. It will also show how Newman’s Own Organics has attempted fair trade, such as how it guarantees farmers a fair price for their harvests and cuts out exploitive middlemen known in the coffee business as “coyotes.”

Newman is president of Newman’s Own Organics, a company that started as a division of Newman’s Own in 1993. Nell’s commitment to organic foods and sustainable agriculture led her to convince her father to let her establish an organic division of Newman’s Own. She had finally won her father over by creating a completely organic Thanksgiving dinner and then suggesting organic products for the Newman’s Own line.

“All of Newman’s Own products are ones that Dad enjoys, so I develop recipes that he really loves and can be proud of,” Nell said in a press release for Newman’s Own Organics.

The company’s first product was an organic pretzel that quickly became the top-selling pretzel in the natural food industry, according to the organic food industry.

According to Newman’s Own Organics, all six organic coffees are Fair Trade certified by TransFair USA and guarantee small-scale coffee farmers a fair and sustainable price for their crop.

“We’ve seen in recent years that people want to know more about the food than how many calories a product contains,” Newman said. “It’s becoming more important to them how ingredients are grown and processed on the way to their grocer’s shelf.”

Joining Newman will be Kimberly Easson, the Strategic Relationships Director of TransFair USA, the only independent, third-party certifier of fair trade practices in the United States. Easson will talk about TransFair USA and also explain how fair trade helps farmers and workers receive a fair price for their products and how fair trade producers can avoid cost-cutting practices that sacrifice quality.

Currently, coffee is the second largest U.S. import after oil. The United States consumes one-fifth of the entire world’s coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world, according to the Global Exchange, an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting political, social and environmental justice globally.

Many small coffee farmers receive a price for their coffee that does not cover the cost of production, forcing them into a cycle of debt and poverty. In addition, coffee prices have plummeted to all-time lows in recent months and are currently around $0.50 per pound. Meanwhile, coffee companies have not lowered consumer prices and are pocketing the difference, according to Global Exchange.

“With world market prices as low as they are right now, we see that a lot of farmers cannot maintain their families and their land anymore. We need fair trade now more than ever,” said Jeronimo Bollen in an article on Global Exchange’s Web site. Bollen is the director of Manos Campesinas, a fair trade coffee cooperative in Guatemala.

Fair trade has been proposed as a viable solution to this crisis, assuring consumers that the coffee they drink was purchased under fair conditions. According to the Fair Trade Federation, importers can become Fair Trade certified by meeting stringent international criteria such as paying a minimum price per pound of $1.26, providing much needed credit to farmers and providing technical assistance to encourage transitioning to organic farming.

The presentation will be held Friday at noon in Room 101 at the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.