After several years of work by our grower and certifying partner, we’re pleased to announce that we can now offer Whole Trade® bell peppers to our customers.
Grown in greenhouses outside the city of Culiacán in Sinaloa, Mexico, loose and packaged Whole Trade bell peppers will be available in most of our stores from January until May, when US production ramps up again. Our Whole Trade® Guarantee ensures fair prices are paid for products, better wages and working conditions, and sound environmental practices.
These Whole Trade bell peppers also generate a 1% donation of retail sale value to the Whole Planet Foundation.
These peppers come from Divemex, growers we have worked with for a few years now.
We were pleased when Fair Trade USA came in as a certifier and helped the company meet their rigorous standards, which now qualifies the peppers for our Whole Trade Guarantee. Recently, a group from our produce team visited the Divemex 175-acre greenhouse farm.
They toured the facilities, learned about their production techniques and met some of the 600 people who are employed at the farm. Here’s what Matt Rogers of Whole Foods Market Produce had to say about the trip:
It was still a couple of weeks before harvest when we visited, but we saw some nice green peppers maturing on the plants.
From a quality perspective, we like to see peppers with good blocky shape, full seed pack, even cavities around the seeds, and nice thick walls. Color comes on about three weeks after a pepper is mature and green. In the next five months, this farm will produce more than 10 million pounds of colored bell peppers!
With the Fair Trade certification, Whole Foods Market and our customers receive independent verification that working conditions and environmental practices on the farm meet high standards. Fair Trade also requires that a part of our purchase price be passed through to a fund controlled directly by the workers on the farm. The workers vote on how to invest the money to benefit their communities.
We met with the workers committee and they explained that the workforce had already voted to support three distinct education support programs for different interest groups:
Many of the workers at this farm are migrants from other areas of Mexico and special attention has been paid to ensure the families of these workers will also have access to the programs.
- One for children of workers to support basic needs associated with attending primary school (uniforms, transportation, etc.)
- Another for workers themselves who want to continue their secondary education while they work
- And a separate one for workers seeking professional training of some sort to advance their careers.
We’re always excited to be able to support growers like Divemex who take the quality of their product and the wellness of their workforce seriously.
We hope you’ll pick up these peppers in our stores and help make this new program a success.
Tell us what you think. When you buy something like bell peppers, do you consider the impact your purchase makes?