On Wednesday, February 13, a delegation from Equal Exchange and the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) arrived at Cooperativa Zacarias Padilla in the coffee-growing village of Quibuto in the mountains of northern Nicaragua.The Zacarias Padilla cooperative, founded in 1992, has 61 members: 18 women and 43 men. It's a "primary-level" co-op; members market their coffee through the secondary-level PRODECOOP, which serves as processor and exporter for small-farmer groups.
As consumers, as people, we are pretty disconnected from most of our products. We may believe a label brings us closer to the real story, but at the end of the day, labels don’t tell stories, people do. Last week, on an Action Forum webinar with Pushpika Freitas of Marketplace: Handwork of India, I was pretty floored. I felt proud to have her as an ally in this work and was moved, not only by how she told the story of Marketplace, but by how she truly honored the stories of the women she worked with. Marketplace is a nonprofit Alternative Trade and Development Organization that grew out of a small-scale venture in 1980 to help three low-income women in Mumbai, India.
With the start of a new year often comes reflection and resolution: eat healthier, save money, cook more. It's also really cold and dark in much of the country, which can mean increased time spent indoors. In this spirit, we'd thought we'd share some film and book recommendations from our Action Forum community.
As rain drizzled down from slate grey skies, thousands of visitors took refuge inside Smith Cove at Pier 91 to attend the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle. The festival has been a staple of the city’s events scene since 2008. This year, the chocolate team at Equal Exchange participated in the festival workshops and unconference from Nov. 9-12.
The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes a wave of consumption. We’re surrounded by food, drinks, gifts, travel - things that can add up to an increased carbon footprint. So, what can we do to be more sustainable during the holidays and even to use our purchasing power for good? Here are some tips to help us be conscious consumers during this busy holiday season:
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.
As the banana buyer for Equal Exchange, this September, I got the opportunity to work and live alongside Guabo, a small farmer banana co-operative in southern Ecuador. Guabo is Equal Exchange’s longest banana partner; the two organizations have worked together for over 10 years to bring Fair Trade, organic bananas from small-scale growers to the U.S. marketplace.
Happy Halloween! This year, it's expected that Halloween candy sales will reach a record $2.75 billion in retail sales. According to the National Confectioners Association, Halloween is the biggest holiday for seasonal candy sales, accounting for about 34 percent of seasonal candy sales (outnumbering Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Day). And, if you took all the candy that’s sold during Halloween week, it would equal about 300,000 tons or two pounds of candy per American!
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.
Two weeks ago, workers from Equal Exchange and La Siembra (a sister worker co-op committed to small farmers, based in Canada) had the opportunity to visit our mutual sugar partner, Manduvira co-operative in Paraguay, and share a day and a half at the homes and fields of several of its 986 farmer members.