Whole Story

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Thinking Roses? Think Whole Trade.

By Jessica Johnson, January 29, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Jessica Johnson
wt_valentines When it comes to Valentine's Day and roses, it's hard to think of one without the other! We've been thinking about them a LOT around here...not just how beautiful they are, but more importantly what our Whole Trade Guarantee™ roses give back to the communities where they are grown. Grown in the Ecuadorian Andes by a group of Fair Trade certified farms, these "blooms with benefits" help to cultivate better working conditions and equitable wages for the farms' workers. For each case of Whole Trade roses purchased by Whole Foods Market, an additional percentage is paid directly to worker groups from each farm who collectively decide how to use the money. Some development projects have included education, training, scholarships, health care and housing. Growing conditions for roses can be finicky at best, and Ecuador has come to be one of the more popular growing environments due to its 10,000 feet elevation, proximity to the sun and its cool nights. The flower industry started there around 20 years ago and currently gives direct employment to more than 70,000 people, with indirect employment going to another 210,000 people. While on average the entire country holds an unemployment rate of 8%, there is very little unemployment in the regions where the flowers business has developed. roses_ecuadorThrough our journey with Whole Trade roses, we are learning more every day about the farms, their workers and the flowers they produce. The opportunity to share the splendor and beauty that flowers convey while simultaneously helping others…I can't think of a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day! Here's how one flower worker describes the benefits of Fair Trade for his family: My name is Segundo Polibio Chancusig Yánez. I am 36 years old. I was born in Pilacoto, Guaytacama. I studied in elementary school in my neighborhood, but couldn't finish my studies because my parents didn't have much money. I began working as a bricklayer after leaving school until I was 18 years old when I had to fulfill compulsory military training. My wife and I have two daughters, Eslendy who is 10 years old in 6th grade and Yessenya who's three years old and in pre-kindergarten. Eslendy dreams of becoming a doctor and she's a very good basketball player. She also likes to dance. My other little one is Yessenya can actually dances better than her older sister. Our greatest desire is to be able to give our little ones an education and see them achieve a professional career. ecuador1I have worked in other rose farms as well, and none of them had a certification. They paid us the minimum wage, but we didn't earn overtime or other benefits. I've worked at Agrogana since May 2007 and the environment is much better. As workers we have access to multiple projects. We now have a hot water heater in our house and we can acquire rice, oil and other food items at wholesale prices, which they deduct in very small quantities and without interest from my paycheck. Something else that is very important to my family is the English courses that the children of workers can take. They pick up the children in a bus at the house then return them after class. My daughter Eslendy began English and reading courses this year and is happy since she was able to improve her grades at the school she attends. We have very interesting and large projects planned for the future. It's the dream of the workers to complete them. For example, we have thought about a housing cooperative that would help us a lot. And another Project would be to give us the opportunity to finish our high school degrees. All of these projects depend on the quality and acceptance of our roses in the Fair Trade market-that determines whether the premium will continue to grow and if we can improve our quality of life and benefit directly in our homes. So, anytime you find yourself thinking of roses, think Whole Trade and become a part of the budding community for "knowing where it's growing!"
Category: Floral, Whole Trade




rocketman3 says ...
While in Seattle May 2009 my daughter served us a wonderful souffle'. She finally confessed that she had not labored long in the kitchen but that it came from a bag of frozen cubes. I have the bag. Entitled: Souffle' au Fromage Emmental. Imported from France. Distributed by Whole Foods Market. Austin, TX, 78703. www.wholefoodsmarket.com. But a search of your website yields no results. It was absolutely the best souffle' ever and soo-oo easy. Impressive too. It wows the company. I need it. Where can I find it?? Wife of rocketman3
01/29/2010 11:49:49 AM CST
screwdestiny says ...
That's great. Thanks for sharing backstory and where the roses come from.
01/30/2010 12:43:29 AM CST
Yero says ...
The florist at my local Whole Foods said that on Valentine's day weekend, they will be selling 2 dozen roses for $14.99. I asked her several times to confirm this because it's an amazingly low price, especially for the holiday. Can you please confirm? Thank you.
01/30/2010 1:06:01 PM CST
hsiaw says ...
Pricing will vary between stores, so your best bet is to ask at your local store, which you've already done. :) Thanks!
02/01/2010 11:14:14 AM CST
Anna Maria Vona says ...
I've been buying all kinds of flowers from my two Philly Whole Foods stores for years. I love the quality and vibrancy of the cut flowers and the pricing is just fantastic! Thank you fir the heartwarming "backstory" of the Ecuadoran worker. Now I will feel even better buying more flowers, knowing that I am directly contributing to the quality of life of a real person, not just some extraopolated numbers
02/03/2010 7:35:23 PM CST
Jennifer says ...
In addition to doing fair trade, I would like to see fewer (or none, if possible) pesticides and herbicides used to grow flowers - which would help the health of the workers (and their children)exposed to these chemicals, and the health of the planet.
02/05/2010 11:50:04 AM CST
Daniel says ...
What a heart-felt story. Thanks for sharing.
02/08/2010 12:30:03 PM CST
debbie says ...
while i agree that this is a lovely sentiment, I know as a buyer in the flower wholesale world that it is true for most south american roses sent to many florists and wholesalers around the country. and as a wholefoods shopper myself, I have to say I am actually surprised that wholefoods doesn't work more directly with our own american and in particular california growers to support our state and country's economy issues such as employment, strict laws on pesticides, etc. and helping the communities in which you are directly serving and involved with. by keeping our local growers employed, doesn't that help you? also keep in mind that working a deal for bulk cheap roses means the south american farms and workers are not getting the money they deserve for their product and hard work as well...
02/08/2010 2:43:08 PM CST
hsiaw says ...
(posting a comment on behalf of Amanda Rainey) Hi Debbie, Amanda here… I am one of the National Floral Buyers and buy quite an assortment of our domestic product for our regions; we absolutely support a variety of growers right here in the states. We are gearing up for spring and summer as we speak, and selection will vary from store to store, but a few examples of products we are purchasing are: Daffodils from Washington State, Tulips and Hyacinth from California, Peonies from across the country, Gladiolas from Michigan, and many, many more! Each of our regions also partner with their local flower growers to bring each store that regions’ best of the seasonal market. Check in with your local floral department to see what they are featuring.
02/10/2010 4:53:34 PM CST
Annabelle Mann says ...
The think i like the most is that the flower whether its roses or tulips, you get way more than what you pay in price. I love the roses because they are so beautiful. And know that they were grown by someone that is not as fortunite as some it really means more.
02/18/2010 9:11:05 AM CST
vaughnm says ...
Product availability and selection are handled by each individual store separately and thus vary. I'd check in first with your local store/s to see if they carry it; if not, you can always request it. Best of luck and thanks! http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/all/index.php
04/01/2010 10:28:15 AM CDT
Dahlia Blair says ...
I went in to inquire about the Whole Trade Roses and was disappointed to learn that they are not pesticide-free.
02/09/2011 10:06:53 PM CST