Whole Story

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Whole Trade Flowers Make a Difference

By Guest Writer, February 11, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Guest Writer
Carol Medeiros joined Whole Foods Market in 2001 at our Cherry Creek store in Denver and has been working on our produce and floral team ever since. You may remember Karen's Whole Trade roses post from last summer, sharing the story of the Ecuadorian Fair Trade certified flower farms that supply our Whole Trade Guarantee roses. Well, with Valentine's Day right around the corner, what better time to share an update on Whole Trade flowers with you? I was one of the Team Members to visit the Ecuadorian farms. I look back on these trips & consider myself lucky to have been a part of them - such a beautiful country, incredible product, wonderful people and inspiring stories. Over a year after the launch of the rose program, I am happy to report that the Whole Trade flower program continues to grow. Now, in addition to the roses (and calla lilies) from Ecuador, we have added Colombian product to the program! We journeyed to Colombia to visit Rainforest Alliance certified flower farms last year (Rainforest Alliance is one of our certifying partners for the Whole Trade Guarantee). There we found another great fit for the program- a farm committed to quality, people and the environment. Working with this farm, we added gerbera daisies, alstromeria & spray roses to the Whole Trade offerings with mixed bouquets soon following. Much like the Fair Trade roses and as a part of the Whole Trade program, we pay an additional percentage (called social premium) with each purchase of flowers we make. In Colombia, it is paid directly to local foundation providing health care, education and meals to the children of farm workers. The foundation (the kids!) The stories of the people behind these products are a constant reminder as to why this program is so compelling and so important. Just check out the pictures and quotes below. The social premium that Whole Foods Market has paid back to the communities producing our flowers - totaling over $200,000 since the launch of the program- is truly making a difference. This premium is in addition to the Whole Planet Foundation donation given with each retail sale …so this flower program is contributing to good things twice (three times if you count that everyone loves flowers!) And the final super cool tidbit? As part of our Whole Trade Guarantee Month you can win Whole Trade Flowers for a year! 10 winners will receive a bunch of Whole Trade Flowers every month for a full year…all you need to do is enter online before March 4th, no purchase necessary…now how can you say no to that? Here are some stories straight from Ecuador, enjoy and thanks for reading! Alfredo Monta - farm worker on Fair Trade farm for 6 years Alfredo Monta"To be able to work on a Fair Trade farm has permitted us to secure benefits that normally we wouldn't have, for example, acquiring a hot water heater that allows us to heat water. Before we have to heat water in a big pot to bathe ourselves, and since there are nine people in my household, we have to boil water many times, and could only bath at most twice a week. Now we have the hot water heater which is much better. We only have to watch that we don't run out of gas in the tank and we have hot water all the time. We can bath every other day or every day if we want to. Monta FamilyAlso, the people that had electric hot water heaters see a significant savings in their energy consumption, and are able to use the money that used to go to the electricity bill for other basic necessities of the family. In our community there are quite a few people that work at Agrogana which is a Fair Trade farm. For that reason, the benefits are more palpable because we can observe how the quality of life for the people has improved with the different projects started by our joint body." Martha Chuquiana - farm worker on Fair Trade farm for 7 years Martha Chuquiana"The best benefit that we have received from Fair Trade is the capacity building given to our children in reading and English courses. The English course for my daughter represents a higher level of learning for her, and through that we've seen a stronger commitment to her studies. Martha ChuquianaIf we had to hire a private teacher, we definitely couldn't have been able to do so, since money is limited for us. Thanks to the English courses, my daughter has been able to overcome a little bit her shyness. In what we see as a benefit to the community, we have directly felt the work of the joint body that administers the premium as they work on community projects this year including donating desks to the school where our children attend. Not only the children of the workers of Agrogana which is a Fair Trade farm has benefit, but rather all the families that have a child in that school." Soraya Falcon - farm worker on Fair Trade farm for 6 years Soraya Falcon"To work at a company that has Fair Trade certification has permitted me to improve my quality of life and that of my family. Before (the Fair Trade premium), when I left work I arrived home to wash my families clothes on the rock (in the stream) every afternoon and eventually into the night. This caused me, in addition to physical exhaustion, pain in my hands from spending so much time with my hands in cold water. I didn't have much time to help my children with their homework because I was spending the afternoon washing clothes. Now that we could acquire the washing machines, thanks to the Fair Trade premium, things have changed. I can spend my time with my family; I can help my children get their homework done and help them study, and the pain in my hands is gone, thanks to the fact that I don't have to spend much time with them in cold water. Soraya FalconI think that not everyone can (access this benefit) due to the high cost of those washing machines, we achieve the purchase thanks to the micro-credit project that we have through the join body, and thanks to the premium that we receive for the sale of Fair Trade flowers. In our community the people really didn't have the possibility to access washing machines. Thanks to Fair Trade, we are the pioneers in improving our system of washing clothing, preserving our health in the future, and improving the quality of life of the whole family."




Jane Henderson says ...
I appreciate the fair trade aspect. I did not see any information regarding chemicals: pesticides, fertilizers, etc. Are these South American flowers SUSTAINABLY grown? Do you sell locally produced, sustainably grown flowers in your stores? If not, what would it take for you to consider doing so? Thank you.
02/11/2009 8:06:54 AM CST
hsiaw says ...
@Jane Products with the Whole Trade Guarantee meet our high Quality Standards, provide more money to producers, ensure better wages and working conditions for workers andutilize sound environmental practices. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/whole-trade.php Where available, we do sell locally grown and sustainably produced flowers in our stores. Please check in with your local Whole Foods Market for their floral selection. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/index.php
02/11/2009 10:40:41 AM CST
medeirosc says ...
Hi Jane, thanks for reading &amp; for your questions! Both Fair Trade &amp; Rainforest Alliance certifications include detailed environment standards. Some examples of what these standards incorporate are soil management &amp; conservation, ecosystem &amp; water conservation, &amp; wildlife protection. The use of agrochemical use is strictly regulated (with many dangerous pesticides prohibited). The links below take you to the specific criteria about environmental sustainability. Fair Trade: http://www.transfairusa.org/content/about/environmental.php Rainforest Alliance:http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/agriculture.cfm?id=main &amp; http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/agriculture.cfm?id=standards <br><Br> In regards to local produced flowers, we do sell locally grown flowers. The availability varies greatly between seasons &amp; region, but your local store could fill you in with their current &amp; seasonal local offerings.
02/11/2009 12:40:37 PM CST
Patrick Dodd says ...
What a fantastic post, thank you. When you can put a face with the people who benefit so much from Fairtrade, it just drives home how important the fair trade movement is in helping to eradicate poverty in the developing world. Well done!
02/12/2009 9:56:28 AM CST
kate stoppleman says ...
very nice workers nd f course food!!!!
03/28/2009 9:19:44 PM CDT
Lisa Hinson says ...
Thank you for posting these wonderful stories and helping support others through Fair Trade practices. Here is an interesting excerpt from http://www.livingwagefairtrade.com/helpfairtrade/fairtraderesearch.html - Paying Higher Prices to Ensure Products Not Made in Substandard Conditions: Naturally, a key question is whether Americans would really be willing to accept paying higher prices to ensure that they are not produced in substandard working conditions. In response to a variety of poll questions, a majority says that it would. In an October 1999 PIPA study respondents were told about the possibility of "an international organization that would check the conditions in a factory and, if acceptable, give them the right to label their products as not made in a sweatshop." As shown below, an overwhelming 76% said they would pay more for the product labeled as not made in a sweatshop." Would be great if this was a priority in other departments at Whole Foods. Thanks, Lisa
08/11/2009 10:45:32 AM CDT
Janet says ...
I agree, it brings real people to the fair trade aspect. It no longer is just a word or business idea.
08/28/2009 10:14:47 PM CDT