Food Conspiracy is happy to announce a new collaboration with Covilli Brand Organics, a produce farm that is both 100% organic AND 100% Fair Trade Certified. We are currently carrying Covilli heirloom tomatoes, green beans, and Brussel sprouts in our produce section and plan to provide additional Covilli products in the future.
What is Fair Trade and why is it important that our Co-op carry Fair Trade products? As Covilli President, Alex Madrigal, explains in his informative YouTube presentation, Fair Trade is a system with its focus on the employee. He goes on to explain that Fair Trade has two main tenants:
- Fair Trade USA certifies that workers receive proper training and that the company fosters an atmosphere and culture of safety. It also guarantees workers’ rights so everyone in the operation understands that they are working fair hours and being paid a fair wage. Fair Trade USA also verifies that there are no child labor laws being compromised.
- Empowerment – information, resources, and decision making authority. We all know that the products we buy are connected to the livelihoods of others. Fair Trade provides us a way to support responsible companies and empower farmers and workers via the Fair Trade Premium, money earned that goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions.
Many produce shippers offer both Fair Trade and non-Fair Trade products. The consumer then decides where to spend the money and which to support. But Covilli workers decided that it was in their best interest as a group to certify their entire line of products. Why? Madrigal explained, “It’s the right thing to do. There is no reason to apply Fair Trade to some of our products and not to others when we can bring more benefits, faster, to our workers and bring awareness to consumers on how we are all key players in creating a more fair food system. We vote with our dollar.” Covilli took a chance, having faith that the consumer would not “opt out” in favor on non-Fair Trade products. And it’s paid off. In the first 20 months after becoming Fair Trade Certified, Covilli received over half a million dollars in Premiums, now being invested in four projects for its work force: a medical transportation unit, health center, meal service and dining facility, and day care.
Covilli worker empowerment is guided by its Fair Trade Committee, called Nuchi Sansekan or “All Together” in Nahuatl indigenous language. It’s a democratic system allowing the workers themselves to elect their representatives and have a direct say in how its Premiums are invested. The workers have control of the bank account containing the Premiums, not the company. It is the workers, after all, who know best what is needed in their community.
When we think of Fair Trade, we might think of coffee, tea, chocolate, or bananas, products that come to us via a long distribution line. In this case, we have an opportunity to impact the global food economy by buying food grown by a community in neighboring Sonora, Mexico with certified organic distribution warehouses in Southern Arizona.
More information on Covilli, its products, and initiatives can be found at its website www.covilli.com. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Their YouTube page has some great videos and their website lists suggested recipes that use their produce!
Learn more about Fair Trade Certification at www.fairtradecertified.org.