U.S. shoppers are being asked to pressure major grocery store operators to make "Fair Trade bananas" more widely available just as European Union grocers have done.
Aug 9, 2007 09:00
WASHINGTON, -- U.S. shoppers are being asked to pressure major grocery store operators to make "Fair Trade bananas" more widely available just as European Union grocers have done.
The new push for Fair Trade Certified(TM) bananas is being launched amidst growing concerns about the human rights and environmental records of large conventional banana companies. For example, Chiquita Brands Inc. recently paid a $25 million fine to the US government after pleading guilty to transacting with terrorist organizations in Colombia.
The push is organized by Co-op America, a non-profit group. Fair Trade Program Coordinator Yochanan Zakai said: "The chances are you have heard about Fair Trade coffee and Fair Trade tea, but you probably don't know about Fair Trade bananas and other tropical fruit. Even though Fair Trade tropical fruits have been available in the US since 2004, they are relatively rare in the U.S. In Europe, where Fair Trade fruit has been available since the mid-1990s, sales of such bananas have been growing at a rate of about 50 percent a year. It's time for U.S. grocers to start making available Fair Trade bananas and other fruit."
Participants in the Co-op America campaign are asked to sign a Web-based letter to major supermarket chains asking for more Fair Trade fruit. The campaign also seeks to enlist interested consumers in working with a supermarket in their community by sending emails, making phone calls and enlisting other local shoppers.
Fair Trade is described as a fair deal for farmers, and a healthier
environment. Through Fair Trade certification, banana farmers earn a living wage that enables them to not only cover production costs but also send their children to school and provide medical care to themselves and their families. Fair Trade premiums are also often invested in programs that teach farmers about recycling, organics, reforestation, and other strategies for building healthy communities."
The Fair Trade certification standards forbid the use of the most dangerous toxic chemicals and pesticides, protecting workers in the field, and guaranteeing the safety of the bananas in your store. Fair Trade bananas are better for our environment, as they are not genetically modified, and are grown using sustainable farming practices such as, mulching, non-chemical weed control, filtering waste-water, recycling, and safe waste management.
Zakai said: "The actions of Chiquita are a stark contrast to the family farmers and co-ops who produce Fair Trade Certified bananas on their own land."
Several independent banana importers -- Oke Bananas, Turbana, Albert's Organics and Jonathan's -- offer Fair Trade Certified bananas that are available to distributors serving U.S. grocers.
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