Last year, Deepak Khandelwal wrote critically about fair trade certification and the contradictions of its apparent success. On the one hand, fair trade food (less so handicrafts) is more widely known, with greater sales and distribution than ever before. At the same time, the pioneering Alternative Trade Organizations (ATO’s) who built the model of more just trade terms in the chocolate, coffee, tea, banana, handicraft, and clothing industries are under extreme duress. In the last decade Equal Exchange has saved three of these Alternative Trade Organizations (Oke USA, Equal Exchange UK, and La Siembra (Canada) while watching others falter and even close.
Frankie PondolphFebruary 6, 2018
Equal ExchangeNovember 27, 2017
Last month, we traveled to the West Bank to visit our Palestinian suppliers of organic extra virgin olive oil. At Equal Exchange, we are more than familiar with the daunting challenges and obstacles confronting cooperatives of small farmers growing coffee, cacao, and many other products. To those, we need to add all the constraints of physical movement and access to water that are everyday realities for Palestinian farmers given the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
Frankie PondolphSeptember 26, 2017
A year ago we hosted Tomy Mathew at our first Action Forum event at Kickstand Cafe in Arlington, Mass. Tomy works with Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK), a small farmer organization in Kerala, India, that supplies cashews to Equal Exchange. FTAK was formed during the agrarian crisis that set producers in a cycle of poverty and indebtedness; farmers were not getting paid the cost of production for their crop.
Nicole VitelloAugust 28, 2017
In August, I traveled to Michoacán to visit PRAGOR, the avocado co-operative that we partner with in Mexico. I visited both the avocado growers and the management of the co-op that buys the avocados from individual growers and gets them from the farms to the pack house into Equal Exchange branded boxes, and then sends them on the road to us here in the U.S. every week.
Jenica CaudillJuly 13, 2017
Here on the Equal Exchange blog, we often discuss the woes surrounding the consolidation of natural foods, from the farm level to the store level. Equally as important though, are the discussions around family farmers who are creating success, even along the inherently difficult path that is organic farming. Earlier this month, myself and several others at Equal Exchange had the opportunity to visit with our almond partners, Burroughs Family Farms. At their farm outside Denair, Calif., we shared a meal, toured the grounds, and learned about their methods of organic, regenerative agriculture.
Ashley SymonsMay 16, 2017
Edith Stacey-Huber is passionate about food. She is the creator of the food buying club Authentic Provisions just outside of Ann Arbor, Mich. Authentic Provisions aims to reconnect people in the community to the food, land and farmers who sustain them, through collective purchasing outside of the corporate food system. Edith is also a member of the Equal Exchange Action Forum and will be presenting at our upcoming People’s Food System Summit on June 9-10.
Rob EvertsApril 27, 2017
In the lead up to May Day, we would like to share the voice of a worker in the food service industry. As you will hear, profits in this industry are often at the expense of exploited workers. We wish to support the hopes and aspirations of food workers too often invisible to consumers, from those who harvest the crops to those so critical to the success of the restaurant and fast food industries.
Phyllis RobinsonApril 14, 2017
With Earth Day approaching, we thought we’d give one example of small-scale farmers who are experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Our cashew partner in El Salvador, APRAINORES, is a small group that has been consistently smacked by climate change and other difficulties.
Jessica Jones-HughesNovember 23, 2016
Four years ago, the Equal Exchange banana team launched an avocado program knowing little about the avocado market and the realities of the industry in the U.S. We started our work in avocados because we met a small farmer co-op fighting for market access in an industry where farmer voices were absent. Equal Exchange has always had a non-traditional approach in the way that we craft our producer relationships and introduce new products. Not the typical, “there is a need in the market, let’s fill it;” instead we build through relationships.
Phyllis_RobinsonOctober 20, 2016
Do you regularly purchase avocados at your local grocery store? If so, have you noticed that it was not possible to purchase avocados from Mexico during the first two weeks of October? Are you curious what’s behind this disruption in supply?