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  • Frankie Pondolph
    February 21, 2019

    Time, it is something the modern-day shopper is not likely to have in abundance. Walking through the aisles at a grocery store, our senses are inundated. Everyone is trying to get our attention, our dollar, our buying patterns or demographics to add to their marketing research, so we can be placed in a box, minimized to a mere statistic. When we pluck a product off of a shelf, it usually ends there. Who out there really wants to take the time to get to know us, find out who we are? Turn customers into humans, statistics into conversations, aggregate data into community, and dollars into real change?

  • Frankie Pondolph
    February 7, 2019

    In early January, I wrote a piece highlighting my experience as a dairy farmer and the path that led to my work at Equal Exchange. In this piece below, I hope to dig into elements of the dairy crisis and raise awareness of the consequences of building a food system for large corporations and commodity markets.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    January 25, 2019

    Next week, the Equal Exchange organizing deparment will be cohosting a webinar with Oxfam America on their Behind the Barcodes Campaign. Join us on Tuesday, January 29th from 4-5pm EST by emailing eeactionforum@equalexchange.coop. An estimated 22 million people around the world work for food manufacturing companies alone. But that number is just the tip of the iceberg. Millions more work in formal or informal roles, such as seasonal labor on plantations or on fishing vessels at sea.And while supermarkets earn big profits, many of these workers, year-round or seasonal, face harsh and dangerous working conditions, earn low wages and live in poverty, struggle to feed their own families. From forced labor aboard fishing boats in Southeast Asia, to poverty wages on Indian tea plantations, and hunger among fruit and vegetable pickers in Southern Italy, human rights abuses are widespread among the women and men who produce the food that we buy from supermarkets around the world.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    January 3, 2019

    Being new at Equal Exchange has been like returning to school. I am constantly learning the intricacies of building supply chains that support producers beyond what a “fair-trade” label could mean. What drew me to Equal Exchange was their unconventional worker-owned cooperative model, and the farmer partners who are supported to stay on their land and to have more bargaining power as small farmers collectively. Working in small-scale agriculture in the U.S. has exposed me to the realities and obstacles around land tenure, access, and security that prevent a lot of people from entering into agriculture and also staying in it.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    November 15, 2018

    Equal Exchange avocado supporters may remember that in October 2016, Equal Exchange avocados were unavailable for about 2 weeks due to strikes in Mexico. You may also remember that during that time, Equal Exchange Produce President Nicole Vitello put out a blog post about the supply gap in which she tackled two major questions about the situation: why did the supply of Mexican avocados to the U.S. suddenly stop?, and How is Equal Exchange an alternative?

  • Rob Everts
    November 1, 2018

    November 16th marks the 29th anniversary of the slaying of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter by government-run death squads in El Salvador in 1989. This past October 14th, slain Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church.The murders of these priests—and of 80,000 more whose names we’ll never know—were carried out in no small part with the support of billions of dollars in U.S. funding and training of corrupt governments in El Salvador. The victims were largely peasants and workers organizing for their rights and a better life.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    February 6, 2018
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    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.

  • Equal Exchange
    November 27, 2017
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    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 Pondolph
    September 26, 2017
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    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 Vitello
    August 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.

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