Our website is a work in progress – and we’d love to build a section here of Frequently Asked Questions about our fruit. If you have a question, send it our way and we’ll do our best to answer it and post that information here. Here are our top entries:
1) What makes your bananas “Fairtrade”?
Our bananas are certified by Fairtrade International, and so we as buyers need to respect basically two things: 1) a minimum price, year-round, which we won’t go below no matter what the local market price and 2) we contribute what’s called a social or Fairtrade premium to the communities we work with, which is used community development & worker training projects. Both of these are set by Fairtrade International and very transparent: you can find these standards here: http://www.fairtrade.net/standards.html We are audited regularly by Fairtrade Canada and if it’s found we don’t comply, we will lose our certification.
Our producers, on their side, also need to be certified by Fairtrade International, and they must also respect certain standards, primarily to do with good labour practices, democratic and transparent management, gender equity and respect for the environment. As with us: they are subject to regular audits and will lose their certification if they don’t comply.
2) Why should I bother with an organic banana: it’s not part of the “Dirty Dozen”?
At Equifruit, we see three elements at play for each banana we import. There’s you, the Canadian consumer, who may have chosen an organic product to keep pesticides out of your body – and that’s a valid choice. But there’s more. The “Dirty Dozen” is very focused on what’s best for us, here in Canada, and not much about the person who produced that banana for us. So while a banana may have a peel which would protect you from harmful pesticides, the banana plantation worker who is exposed to significant amounts of pesticides on the job doesn’t have a handy peel s/he can take off at the end of the day. So that’s the second element: our producers and their workers. We want to be sure that no one has got sick from pesticide exposure so that we can have cheap fruit. The third element, of course, is the land itself: there are tracts of former banana plantation land in central America that have been so heavily sprayed with pesticides that the land is now unusable.
3) I hear that there’s a disease that’s going to wipe out bananas. Is that going to affect your bananas, too?
Yes, in theory, it could. The Cavendish banana, the strain which North American consumers are most familiar with, is under threat from a form of fusarium wilt called Panama Disease or Tropical Race 4 (TR4). TR4 has affected some crops in Asia, and the fear is that this disease will spread to other parts of the world, laying waste to global production. The banana is at particular risk to disease because it is sterile, propagated from cuttings from another banana, making each fruit an exact clone of every other fruit. So while we’re aware of this problem, there are much more clever people than us at work on solving this problem, and trying to find a strain of bananas which will withstand the rigours of the export process. We monitor this situation as best we can, and keep open communication with our producers.