“I don’t want to be part of a world that destroys Nature’s treasures.” – Luigi Lavazza
It was during a trip to South America in 1935 when Luigi Lavazza expressed his dismay at the destruction of whole batches of unsold coffee — an experience that left its mark on him, and changed his business vision.
Talk about a life changing experience. The above is from a Lavazza media kit I received at roundtable called Partners for Sustainability, Together for a Sustainable Future at Salone del Gusto Terra Madre 2012. The roundtable was a discussion between Daniel R. Katz, founder and board chair of Rainforest Alliance, Ana Paula Tavares, executive vice president of Rainforest Alliance, Carlo Petrini, founder and chairman of SlowFood, and Giuseppe Lavazza, vice president of Lavazza. From a Slow Food International's Press Release, the focus of the roundtable:
An examination of shared pathways and projects to guarantee sustainable development. A debate on the concrete ways of doing business, reconciling attention to products with protecting our resources, starting with the experience of the Rainforest Alliance, the international NGO that has been collaborating with Lavazza on the ¡Tierra! project for ten years.
It was a lively and informative discussion, and I learned a lot in 90 minutes. I was impressed by the choice of Lavazza to be socially responsible. It shows that there is a choice about a business is run, and sets a good example. Lavazza's choice provides a good contrast to the choice that some businesses are making here in America.
In America, the 2012 presidential election is over. Americans chose to reelect Barack Obama, and with that choice, they endorsed his health care law. Health care in America is a mess complicated by greed and politics. There are some business owners who have made it clear that because of this law requiring them to provide health care to workers who work 30 hours a week or more, will have their hours cut so the business won't have to provide them health care. This law applies to businesses with 50 or more employees, and goes in effect in 2014.
Considering the potential public health problem this creates, food handlers without health insurance, not to mention the lack of responsibility to the well being of the employees who help the business make money, and to consumers who drive these companies business, it a clear choice of greed over social responsibility. A business in and of itself can't make its own decisions or choices. The business owner, or owners, make the choices that define a business its business practices. Lavazza's choice, sustainable development, along with collaborating with an international NGO that protects the rainforest, and all its inhabitants while maintaining a successful business, is socially responsible. The restaurant chains choice of cutting hours to deny health care is greed.
Now, you might be wondering, how does this play into a blog about heirloom varieties of plants, the threat they face with extinction and storytelling. A major motivation for me is encouraging people who heirloom garden to look at their gardening, and the knowledge that goes with it as a family heirloom that passes to future generations. Luigi Lavazza's family heirloom, his coffee business and his business vision, is good fit for the motivation mentioned above. His quote resonates deeply within me, and I'm quite impressed with the ¡TIERRA! project. It amplifies the core message in that quote, and it will demonstrate the clear difference in the choices, social responsibility verses greed.
Next week, in part two of this series, I will tell you about the ¡TIERRA! project, and share some wonderful photographs by Steve McCurry, provided by Lavazza Part three the following week will focus on the roundtable.