At Family Dinner, we are always looking for new, exciting items to put into your shares and the add-on section of our store. We want to bring whimsy and variety into your cooking experience as much as possible! In the store you can find Fresh Pasta, rotating Cheese selections, Pastry of the Week, and more. Recently, we added three non-local items: Organic, Fair Trade Avocados and Bananas, and Organic Citrus. Although we are adding some non-local items, we remain a business that celebrates all of the beautiful foods created in our local community. While rolling out these non-local items, we wanted to share a bit more about why we selected them and how we are sourcing them. Shannon, our Operations Manager and Veggie Sourcer extraordinaire, tells the story of these selections.
Why would a local farmer’s market home delivery service who loves and celebrates every and all things local start supplying tropical fruits? Well, because we are realistic in understanding there is a larger, complex global food system and palate that our customers (and we ourselves) enjoy that cannot grow in New England!
One of our core values at Family Dinner is people first--we care about all of the people in and around the food system in which we take part, from the farm workers in the fields and trees to our amazing customers! For this reason, we knew if we were to bring in these tropical items, we would want not only the most delicious fruit, but also the fruit that is good for the folks growing, harvesting, packing, and living around the crops.
In our general sourcing, we try to only buy organic except when it is not usually possible (e.g., fruit in New England is mostly IPM due to growing conditions, pest, and disease pressure). So with a minimum of organic (which protects the environment--synthetic fertilizers are one of the MOST carbon intensive products to create, not to mention the impact pesticides have on human and soil health--and also protects farm workers and those who live near the fields from numerous health impacts), we also wanted to ensure that the people working on the farms are treated fairly. Ergo, we were looking for organic and Fair Trade bananas and avocados! Thankfully for us, there is a Cooperative in West Bridgewater, MA that specializes in just those things, Equal Exchange!
Equal Exchange bananas and avocados are certified organic to the USDA standards and certified Fair Trade to the Fair Trade International Standards. Within the standards provides farmers with:
- Fair Trade Minimum Price - A guaranteed price floor to safeguard farmers from price fluctuations in the broader market
- A Fair Trade Premium - A percentage paid on top of the price of the bananas for the farmers to put toward community projects, e.g., schools, clinics, toilets, wells
- Protecting the Rights of Farm Workers - A minimum standard of care for farm workers to ensure they are being paid properly, are properly equipped for the work they are doing, able to organize together, and much more
In addition to the above, there are nine main principles to Fair Trade:
- Long-Term Direct Trading Relationships
- Payment of Fair Prices
- No Child, Forced, or Otherwise Exploited Labor
- Workplace Non-Discrimination, Gender Equity, and Freedom of Association
- Democratic & Transparent Organizations
- Safe Working Conditions & Reasonable Work Hours
- Investment in Community Development Projects
- Environmental Sustainability
- Traceability and Transparency
You can learn more about Fair Trade International’s banana program here and more reasons why you should love Fair Trade bananas here! You can also find a Peruvian Avocado ripening guide here!
So, why are the lemons just organic and not Fair Trade? Well, that has to do with the origins of Fair Trade and who it was intended to help the most. Fair Trade was originally intended as a way to buy in solidarity with small scale farmers in the global south as a way to foster development in their countries with integrity. Since there is a large citrus production in the “global north,” it is not an item that is typically available for Fair Trade certification. However, there are still many beneficial impacts for even just sourcing organically, especially for the environment and your health. The USDA organic standard for crops ensures that:
- Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop.
- Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials.
- Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used.
- Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available.
- The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge is prohibited.
In the end, we chose products that we felt put the needs of our customers and the need for farm work with integrity first. We are so excited to be able to offer you, our customers, these additional tropical fare that is also deepening our connection with the global food system in an ethical manner! As we find additional resources, we will populate them here as well.
Want to learn more about Fair Trade? Bananas? And More? Check out these links:
- Fair World Project, Fair Trade watchdog, Fair Trade Standards Guide
- Civil Eats Article, Ethical Bananas
- Netflix Docuseries, Rotten