In my quest to track down fair trade bananas in this greenest of green cities, I asked the produce manager at my local Whole Foods if they carried any certified bananas. He pointed me to 3-4 bunches inconspicuously located among a huge display of Chiquita bananas. Unlike their Chiquita neighbors, these bananas carried a sticker that said “Earth Bananas” and “Whole Trade Certified,” which the manager assured me meant they were fair trade.
I’m a fair trade skeptic so I came home and googled these “Whole Trade Certified” bananas. I hate it when companies self-certify their own products (like Starbucks CAFE standards). It’s as if they are saying “Because we say our products are socially responsible, they are.” That’s not enough for me. I always look for someone independent to back the claim.
Despite my skepticism it seems this “Whole Trade Certification” is worth paying attention to. It turns out Earth University is a non-profit organization that trains farmers to use better growing practices to have less of an environmental impact. They also ensure the farmers are paid living wages and use socially and environmentally responsible growing practices. While not organic bananas, the use of pesticides and herbicides is minimal to none.
This “Whole Trade Certification” has received recognition by Transfair USA, the organization behind the Certified Fair Trade label in the United States. So while Transfair’s logo does not appear on these bananas, they seem to uphold the “fair trade-ness” of what Whole Foods is doing.
If you have a hard time finding these bananas at Whole Foods be sure to ask for them. They come from Costa Rica and carry a yellow and green label that says Earth Bananas/ Whole Trade Certified.
The real test of a good banana in my household is: Does Grace (my 15-month old) like it? She has voraciously consumed the Earth bananas with as much speed and gusto as any other banana that has darkened our doors so I’d say that’s as much of a taste test as you need.