Have you ever seen a cacao pod? In the wild or on the farm, it awkwardly hangs from the trunk and branches of the Theobroma cacao tree. An alien fruit of seemingly endless variety —shaped like a papaya, hard like an acorn squash and often ridged like one, too. It comes in reds, browns, golds, purples, sometimes different varieties growing right alongside one another. Cutting one open reveals a world no less strange than the exterior—filmy, gooey white membrane enrobes brown and purple beans that are about the size of large grapes. The aroma from the interior is alluring, though: citric and bold, floral and sweet, even woodsy and minerally, depending on the variety of pod you’re sniffing
Tags: food system
Rob EvertsNovember 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 PondolphSeptember 10, 2018
Equal Exchange has been operating in the Portland, Oregon area since the mid 1990’s. As a worker-owner of Equal Exchange, I was curious about this transition of the company from being east-centric to bicoastal. How did it all begin? Who was involved? What is the unfolding story and how did it take shape? Where did we come from and where are we going?
Frankie PondolphAugust 16, 2018
On June 22-24th workers-owners of Equal Exchange Frankie Pondolph and Rose Smith along with Action Forum member Megan Straughen attended New Economy Coalition biennial conference, CommonBound. This year the conference was held in St. Louis, Missouri bringing together individuals over the course of three days to work towards owning our collective power and building the seeds for a new and transformative economy both locally and internationally. Below both Megan and Rose reflect on their experiences at CommonBound and what they learned to build capacity, tools and resilience for the future.
Frankie PondolphJune 26, 2018
Since the creation of Equal Exchange 32 years ago, people and relationships have always been at our center. Coffee, chocolate, tea, mangoes, cashews; these are the mediums which allow us to show the world that ethical supply chains are viable and that there is more than one way to do business. Radicalism lies within the Equal Exchange model: a supply chain that is characteristic of true democracy, cooperative learning, transparency, and respect for our planet and its people.
Frankie PondolphMay 17, 2018
Jessica Jones-Hughes & Ravdeep Jaidka of OKE, USA
Over the last decade, avocados have transitioned from an exotic fruit to a grocery staple, finding a place in U.S. kitchens on a weekly basis. Last year, avocados surpassed bananas as the most valuable fruit import in the U.S. This statistic alone speaks to the immense boom that avocados have seen in the U.S. market.
Frankie PondolphMarch 26, 2018
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.
Frankie PondolphMarch 12, 2018
This year we asked our director of purchasing and production, Todd Caspersen, to conduct a critical analysis of how we think our coffee farmer cooperatives are faring. His assessment is sobering. We have decided to share it in this space, unsparing and unfiltered, believing that this level of analysis will make all of us more informed and enable us to critically assess where in the years to come we can collectively make the most progress in building supply chains that truly work for small scale coffee farmers, Equal Exchange and our customers.
Frankie PondolphFebruary 6, 2018
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 ExchangeJanuary 16, 2018
Each January, against my own better judgement, I sit down and write out my resolutions for the coming year. I reflect on the previous 365 days, and resolve to be better and to do better. Often times, these aspirations involve food, so I research and plan how I might alter my methods of food consumption to effect positive change in my life. Food, which has become as much of a technical object as a cultural one, is an incredibly important part of our lives. In deciding how we nourish ourselves, we make decisions that are simultaneously nutritional and environmental, political and economic.