Most people love fruit. Bananas, in particular, are a popular fruit that act as a prebiotic, antacid, antioxidants, B-vitamins, regulates blood sugar, helps increase calcium absorption, and more. This magical fruit has so many health benefits, it’s no wonder it’s such a popular food and such a huge commodity in global agricultural trade.
Unfortunately, like with many commodities, there is a very dark side to the banana industry. According to Fairtrade.net five corporations control about 80% of banana sales on the worldwide market, leaving few options for small banana farmers as competition with the corporations is futile. This lack of option leaves the plantation workers vulnerable, which the corporations take advantage of. The plantation workers are treated terribly – no job security, toiling in the hot sun for 12-14 hours a day, working amidst the harmful pesticides. Most of the money from the revenue of bananas go towards packing, fertilizer and pesticides – about 70 kg per hectare/year in an average banana plantation. Recently there have been more international quality requirements, increasing the corporations’ production costs, often leading to unpaid overtime for the workers.
How Fair Trade works
image source: sustainabledish.com
Fair Trade pays farmers a liveable wage, and gives them safe working conditions to work in. Sometimes, farmers even receive extra money to assist with investments for their families’ well-being or given opportunities to join social programs.
Fair Trade Standards for small fresh fruit farmers
Proﬁts must be equally distributed among the members of the co-operative or association.
All the members of the producer organization have a voice in the decision-making process and in the group organization.
Fair Trade Standards for fresh fruit plantations:
A Joint Body is formed and includes workers and a management team responsible for the use of the premium, which can’t be used to cover ongoing operation costs, but instead to improve working conditions.
Forced labour and child labour of children of 15 years and under is prohibited. Work for children over 15 must not interfere with their education and they must not do work that could risk their health.
Workers have the right to establish or join an independent union.
Salaries must be equal to or higher than the regional average or than the minimum wage in effect.
Health and safety measures must be established in order to avoid work-related injuries.
Fair Trade Certified bananas come from 8 different countries: Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Ghana, the Dominican Republic, and the Windward Islands.
Now that you understand the importance of buying Fair Trade bananas, here is a delicious recipe you can use them in!
Fair Trade Banana Chocolate Bread
- 1/4 cup Fair Trade vegetable oil – (in the USA or online)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup Fair Trade sugar – (http://wholesomesweet.com/ available at most health food stores)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 organic eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 Fair Trade bananas, mashed (1 cup mashed banana) – (available at Loblaws, Karma Coop, West End Food Coop, WholeFoods, or Equifruit is a good brand to look out for!)
- 1 cup Fair Trade chocolate chips – (http://www.sunspire.com/ from the States or any Fair Trade chocolate bars cut up, available at most major grocery stores in Canada http://www.lasiembra.com/
image source: baking-planet.com
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F
Grease and flour a 8 1/2-inch x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix in the oil, bananas and eggs.
Stir in the chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate pieces (don’t over-mix!). Pour into the greased and floured pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 60-80 minutes.
Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely, right side up.