Riobamba, Ecuador
Mexico City, Mexico
April 20, 2016

The organizations and individuals representing the Small Producers’ Symbol (SPP) express our solidarity with the people of Ecuador, its inhabitants in general, and in particular with those earthquake victims and their families. From this space we want to let them know that we sympathize with them as they try to confront this tragedy and the pain that the earthquake has caused them.

On April 16, Ecuador experienced an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 Mw, which has left more than 553 people dead, more than 4,000 wounded and 231 missing.  In addition, thousands of homes and much infrastructure has been either partially or completely destroyed.

The Ecuadorian government declared a state of emergency throughout the country and specifically in the provinces of Santa Elena, Manabi, Esmeraldas, Guayas, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and Los Rios.

The Small Producers’ Symbol represents 12 co-operative organizations in Ecuador – all part of the SPP family.  Of those twelve, we know that in at least two,  (FONMSOEAM and UOPROCAE) both the infrastructure of the co-operative, and the homes belonging to co-op members have been destroyed.  We are aware that damage has also occurred in several other organizations of small producers in the regions affected by the earthquake.

From the Small Producers ‘ Symbol, we want to convey to our brothers and sisters of Ecuador a message of solidarity and strength at this difficult time and ask for the solidarity and support worldwide.

Likewise, we support the Ecuadorian Coordinator of Fair Trade Organizations in the efforts they are taking at the national level to channel support and solidarity from all of the friends of the small producers of fair trade, and any other person or organization that wants to contribute the reconstruction efforts beginning at the local level.

If you would like to support the organizations that have been affected, you can make a donation and earmark your contribution to the Ecuadorian Earthquake Reconstruction effort.

In the United States, Equal Exchange and Fair World Project have teamed together to collect donations.

Please send a tax-deductible contribution to:

Fair World Project
PO Box 42322
Portland, OR 97242
OR click here to donate through Pay Pal or credit card.

As we get more information on the damage and the appropriate types of support needed, we will let you know.  At the moment, the assessment of damages are still being made.  Sadly, they appear to already exceed by far the already very tragic official figures of dead and wounded.

Small Producers’ Symbol

Building Up together a world of justice and solidarity!

On April 19th, WBEZ Chicago aired the following 19 minute radio interview about the conventional banana industry (owned and controlled by just a handful of multinational conglomerates like Dole and Chiquita) and the small farmer alternative which places small farmers, ethical retailers, and engaged consumers center stage in a growing movement.

One banana:  Two very different paths.  Which one do you choose?


The Banana Supply Chain And The Movement To Change It

April 19, 2016

Click here to hear the 19 minute radio broadcast.

The interactive web documentary Beyond the Seal follows bananas from the fields of Ecuador to the U.S. supermarket and investigates a growing Fair Trade movement for the fruit.

Dan Koeppel, author of Bananas: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World and Nicole Vitello, president at Fair Trade banana importer Oké USA Fruit Company, are both featured in the documentary.

They join us to talk about the farmers, activists and business leaders who are working to change the U.S. banana industry.

Beyond The Seal was produced by Leah Varjacques and WBEZ intern Katherine Nagasawa.

We are so excited to announce that Beyond the Seal has been nominated for a Real Food Film award.

The finalists of the contest will be judged in several categories, and one film will also be awarded the People’s Choice award. Watch a clipfrom Beyond the Seal and other food-based films, then cast your vote!

Beyond the Seal | 2016 Real Food Films Finalist
Beyond the Seal filmmakers Leah Varjacques and Katherine Nagasawa.
Coming up in Chicago — Beyond the Seal Screening — Tuesday April 19th:
Join Equal Exchange’s Nicole Vitello and Rink Dickinson, along with the filmmakers Katherine Nagasawa and  Leah Varjacques, banana expert Dan Koeppel, and Dill Pickle Coop‘s Amber Zook at 7 pm at Northwestern University’s Harris Hall.
Learn more here.
So March has come to an end, which means the end of another thrilling Equal Exchange Banana Month. This post marks the last of a three-part series that digs deep into the web documentary Beyond the Seal (missed Part 1 and Part 2?).

This March, we have been overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and energy around Equal Exchange bananas and Beyond the Seal. While March may be over, we want to keep the momentum and conversations around Beyond the Seal going. We’ll continue to promote Beyond the Seal throughout the year and hope you’ll do the same!

We also have some very exciting avocado news to share! Read on…

A recap: Beyond the Seal is a bold, intriguing piece that dives into the realities of small-scale banana farming. Beyond the Seal is a web documentary divided into 5 chapters.
THIS WEEK: Watch Chapter 3
In Chapter 3, dig into the timeline of the banana industry and uncover the details of its nefarious past. Then meet Rink, founder and CEO of Equal Exchange, and Nicole, President of Equal Exchange Bananas, to learn about Equal’s foray into the banana trade ten years ago.

GO further, get together with your staff and answer the following questions:

  1. After reading the banana timeline, what events or details stand out? Were you aware of this dark history of the banana trade?
  2. Bananas are a loss leader and retail prices are kept artificially low due to the fear that raising the price would drive consumers away. Discuss this price perception with special attention to your store’s banana price.
See this Vox article on bananas to further inform your discussion.

Watch now at beyondtheseal.com

Banana Month Buzz
Celebrating Banana Month with smoothies made with pedaling power at City Market in Burlington, VT.
Nicole and Ravdeep demo with some delicious banana ice-cream at Middlebury Co-op in Vermont.
Check out this charming article by Abundance Co-opin Rochester, NY.
EXCITING AVOCADO NEWS: The Equal Exchange avocado season will be extended beyond March! Pragor avocado co-op started working with growers at higher altitudes in Mexico. That means you’ll continue to see Equal avocados offered so keep the avocado love flowing!
How to Make Chocolate Covered Bananas
Equal Exchange bananas had fun in March creating this step-by-step video on making chocolate covered bananas!

By Frankie Pondolph, Equal Exchange Sales Representative

Frankie Pondolph and Laurie Foote, Equal Exchange Sales Representatives, with Naama Haviv, Executive Director of the Panzi Foundation USA

Frankie Pondolph and Laurie Foote, Equal Exchange Sales Representatives, with Naama Haviv, Executive Director of the Panzi Foundation USA

It was a humbling experience to represent Equal Exchange, along with my co-worker Laurie, at the honorary reception of Dr. Denis Mukwege for his work at the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Dr. Mukege has been awarded the 2016 Reinfield Award on behalf of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing for his work in Women’s Global Health. The hospital attempts to provide a sanctuary for healing, both physically and mentally for all those affected by the violence in the DNC.

Equal Exchange’s connection to the Panzi Hospital was formed in 2011 through the Congo Coffee Project, a collaboration between Equal Exchange and the Panzi Foundation. Through this project, Equal Exchange brings Congolese coffee to the U.S. market; with the aim of raising awareness of the crimes of sexual violence committed every day in the DRC.  Through sales of our Congo Coffee, we have also raised more than $60,000 to directly support the work being done to help victims of this violence heal.

Last evening, I was among fifteen or so people from across the United States who were in some way connected to, or inspired by, the work of the Panzi Hospital. Executive Director of the Panzi Foundation USA, Naama Haviv, spoke chillingly of her work with Dr. Mukwege and the strategic efforts Panzi USA is doing to advocate for the women, children and men affected by sexual violence. Naama spoke of the word “empowerment” as something that cannot be given, as in “to empower,” but rather, true empowerment is something that can only be found within oneself.

Laurie and Frankie, with Dr. Denis Mukwege

Laurie and Frankie, with Dr. Denis Mukwege

Dr. Mukwege then spoke of his work at the Panzi Hospital to physically heal women who have been sexually abused. His work to heal the victims affected by the horrific violence committed in the DRC is only a piece of the puzzle towards greater healing and social justice. Dr. Mukwege defined justice as the ability to use one’s voice to speak out and through this action, to create an opportunity to heal.

Dr. Mukwege remarked that too many people today close their eyes and ears to the injustices around the world; what one cannot see or hear does not exist. As I stood next to the group of fifteen likeminded people attending the reception, I reflected on our ability to use our voices. Dr. Mukwege reminded us all this evening that each one of us has something to give and that something is the ability to speak out about what is happening every day in the Congo. I will be encouraging people to use their voices as tools for their own empowerment, and to take action. The Congo Coffee project and the work of Dr. Mukwege and the Panzi Foundation are vehicles we can all use to collectively open our ears and eyes to what is happening, to call attention to these crimes, and to demand justice.

It’s mid-March which means Equal Exchange Banana Month is in full swing! This March also marks our 10th year in the banana trade. To celebrate, we are promoting a new web documentary called Beyond the Seal.

This is the second of a three-part series that digs deep into Beyond the Seal (missed Part 1? Click here).

A recap: Beyond the Seal is the story of a group of small farmers – and the activists and visionaries behind them – striving to change the banana industry as we know it. Through a model of business called Fair Trade, these producers are building a more just supply chain, one that prioritizes their health, their families and their community.

Beyond the Seal is a web documentary divided into 5 chapters.

THIS WEEK: Watch Chapter 2

In Chapter 2, meet Anibal Cabrera, a small-scale banana producer and member of the AsoGuabo Cooperative in Ecuador. Take a peek into Anibal’s life and learn how the Fair Trade model strengthens and empowers AsoGuabo.

GO further, get together with your staff and answer the following questions:

  1. How does the Fair Trade model support small producers?
  2. Under Fair Trade, producers receive a dollar per 40 lb. box of bananas as social premium. Do you see any difference between the premium and development aid or charity?
Watch now at beyondtheseal.com

Banana Month Buzz

Look who’s watching! A very special tweet from Marion Nestle, NYU Professor and renowned author of Food Politics:
Shout out to Honest Weight  for celebratingBanana Month with this incredible display! That’s 32 cases of bananas.
Check out this eye-catching display atLebanon Co-op in NH!
Welcome to Equal Exchange Banana Month! We dedicate this month to raising awareness about our fair trade banana supply chain and how this chain transforms our communities on both ends. Wherever you fall within the supply chain, this work is about ownership, having a voice, and connecting to our food.

This March is even more special because it marks our 10th year in the banana trade.To celebrate, we’ll be promoting a new web documentary Beyond the Seal, an intriguing piece that boldly portrays the realities of small-scale banana farming.

This post is the first of a three-part series that digs deep into Beyond the Seal.

What is Beyond the Seal?

We had the great fortune of meeting innovative filmmakers Leah Varjacques and Katherine Nagasawa a few years ago when they approached us while making their documentary about the banana business, Beyond the Seal. The documentary is an independent project, but now that it’s complete, the filmmakers are teaming up with Equal Exchange to get the word out!Beyond the Seal is a web documentary divided into 5 chapters.

THIS WEEK: Watch the Introduction and Chapter 1

In the Introduction and Chapter 1, travel to Ecuador, the banana capital of the world, and learn about the true cost of bananas –  the real reason why bananas come from halfway across the world but are half the price of apples. You’ll hear the stories of Javier, an ex-banana plantation worker, and Jimena, a small banana farmer, and uncover the realities of the banana business.

Watch now on beyondtheseal.com – on your computer or your phone!