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Join Community Dining, Katherine Bissell Cordova, executive director of Chicago Fair Trade, and Jake Elster, co-founder of Crop to Cup Coffee Importers, for a Moroccan-inspired dinner prepared by Chef Ronak Patel using Fair Trade ingredients and a robust discussion of the ethical and economic consequences of Fair Trade at Read It & Eat, a culinary bookstore located in the heart of Lincoln Park.

Established in 2015, Read It & Eat is dedicated to providing food lovers with exceptional culinary experiences through carefully selected books, classes and discussions. The book collection highlights selections on cooking, travel, biographies, essays and history.

Read It & Eat has a calendar of events that includes author/chef signings, discussions, demonstrations, tastings and cooking classes and a cookbook club meets monthly to discuss books, recipes and techniques while enjoying a meal together.

Fair Trade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers.  When farmers can sell on Fair Trade terms, it provides them with a better deal and improved terms of trade.  This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future.

Fair Trade offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their every day shopping. Guests at this dinner will  have the opportunity to do this kind of shopping by purchasing fair trade SORA Wallets.  SORA products are hand woven items made by women in impoverished communities in SE Asia.


As a special offer for this event, guests as first time customers will receive a unique $20 off promo code toward Eat Purely, a great service that delivers chef-crafted, all organic meals to resident’s doors in 20 minutes or less.


Warm Mejool dates stuffed with smoked almonds and goat cheese

Harissa butter poached shrimp

Spiced roasted root vegetable soup garnished with house made yogurt, chive oil and fried shallots

Ras el Hanout braised lamb with dried plums, cashews, red peppers, and artichokes in a tomato sauce

Saffron (from Rumi Spice) Maftoul with preserved lemons and peas

Coffee and chocolate tasting and fresh fruit

Fair Trade wine:

Fair Valley Chenin Blanc:
Chenin Blanc may be SA’s best varietal. light to medium bodied (though this version leans towards the lighter side) it showcases green apple aromas, light minerality and a bright, crisp finish. Enough weight to carry dishes with richness, but versatile enough to pair with all lighter fare.
Fair Valley Pinotage:
Pinotage was out of favor among SA winemakers for a while, but has been experiencing a resurgence. Dark fruit, with a touch of mocha and spice on the dry but soft finish.

List of purveyors:

Rumi Spice

Canaan Fair Trade

Wild Ophelia

Bodega Ramos

Metropolis Coffee

About Chicago Fair Trade and Katherine Bissell Cordova:

Chicago Fair Trade (CFT) is the largest fair trade coalition in the USA, comprised of a dedicated base of member businesses, educational institutions, congregations, non-profit organizations, and individual activists. CFT increases support for economic and environmental justice through consumer education, advocacy, and promotion of local fair trade businesses. CFT is proud to be a local and national leader in raising awareness about and building support for fair trade and its principles of environmental sustainability, ethical production methods, fair wages, and safe working conditions.

Katherine Bissell Cordova serves as Executive Director of Chicago Fair Trade. She has worked for over twenty years for human rights, immigrant rights, and worker rights organizations. Katherine opened a fair trade store, Greenheart Shop, in Chicago. Prior to that, Katherine served as the Executive Director of ARISE Chicago, an organization that partners with low-wage immigrant workers as they organize for improvements in the workplace. Katherine served as field director of GreenWood Alliance, opening their office in Honduras. She served as a member of Peace Brigades International in Guatemala, defending human rights activists. She prior to that, she worked at the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors for Torture. She is the recipient of Casa Guatemala’s Human Rights Award and is fluent in Spanish.

Katherine lives in Chicago with her two children, Sofia, a budding artist, and Mateo who is showing telltale signs of being a future organizer.

About Crop to Cup Coffee Importers and Jake Elster:

Every coffee has a story to tell.  It starts with the farmer, who translates wind and rain, soil and sun, into a sensational array of sugars and acidity, body and balance.  And it continues from the crop to the cup, engaging and celebrating every actor in between. At Crop to Cup Coffee Importers, we complete the story by carrying it back to the farm in the form of pride and recognition, learning and improvement.  And the cycle continues year after year, with the power to energize your menu, educate your staff and engage your customers.

A farmer direct importer and wholesaler, Crop to Cup Coffee Co. works to connect coffee farmers with coffee lovers.  By focusing on the traceability of coffee and the empowerment of small farmers and consumers, Crop to Cup supplies coffee beans that taste and feel good.

In 2005 Jake Elster was working with Uganda’s last remaining Farmer’s Cooperative to register farmer groups, standardize payments and reopen washing stations which had been closed since the 1940s. This resulted in traceable, specialty grade coffees, but not higher incomes for farmers. And so in 2006 Jake founded a specialty exporter to contract coffees directly from the farm, connecting them to overseas markets. But without customers, this too failed to create desired impact at the farm. And so in 2007 Jake returned to the US to begin Crop to Cup Coffee Importers, which had a unique claim at the time that ‘this coffee came from these farmers’. Over the following 9 years Crop to Cup has grown to work in 10 countries across Africa and Asia, connecting them to coffee roasters across the United States. Each community is different, but what remains the same is a commitment to building the human capacity needed to thrive through coffee. Now Jake’s job is to find and develop new suppliers, a job which makes use of his experience and education in Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis and a MS in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University.