Marmalade, Honey and Jam (oh my!)
Hope Kolly, Community Sales Product Coordinator
You may have noticed a deluge of new food products from Equal Exchange recently. Well, let me introduce you to the newest of the new: luscious Organic Strawberry Jam, fine cut Organic Marmalade made from Seville oranges, and delicately floral Guatemalan honey. What's so special (besides the taste) about these products, you might ask?
Let's talk about honey. The first question most folks ask about the Guatemalan honey is, "Why should I buy this over local honey?" My short answer is: you shouldn't. We agree that supporting local honey and more importantly, bees, is essential for our local food systems.
Rosa Moralez of the women’s group, Canton Qua, being shown how to harvest honey. © Richard Else
Honeybees are crucial to crop pollination. Did you know that a quarter of the American diet depends on bee pollination?* In recent years the honeybee population has been decimated, and while there is some debate on the cause** there is no question that we need to protect our bees. Buying local honey is one way to do that. Fewer bees means less honey, however, and our demand for honey in the U.S. continues to exceed domestic supply.
That's where our fairly traded Guatemalan honey comes in. Your purchase of this delightful honey supports beekeepers in a beautiful, remote community in the Cuchumatan mountains. These beekeepers work together in CIPAC, a co-op of over 140 members. The co-op provides a way for families to generate income sustainably while staying in and protecting their community. Fair Trade premiums support a women's beekeeping group that helps women become co-op members and gain the training and tools necessary to start and manage their beekeeping business.
What makes our Organic Strawberry Jam and Orange Marmalade so sweet is the fairly traded sugar from a co-op in Paraguay, called the Asociacion Agricola Canera Del Sur. These sugar cane growers came together so they could collectively negotiate with the local, privately owned sugar mill. Traditionally, the sugar business in Paraguay has left individual producers with little bargaining power and no access to price or market information, leaving them with low prices that fail to provide a sustainable livelihood for their families. Fair Trade purchases–like yours–give growers a better price. They also provide pre-harvest financing and have helped fund a new tractor for the co-op, reconstruction of an old bridge, and community food, health and educational programs.
These new products are also exciting for us at Equal Exchange because they are the fruits (pun intended) of a partnership with Traidcraft, a very like-minded organization in the U.K. If the name sounds familiar it's probably because we also worked with them to bring you our Geobars, the cereal bar that blends Fair Trade ingredients from around the world.
As one of the first U.S. companies to sell fairly traded coffee, we're proud to continue innovating and expanding the market for more small-farmer products like these new foods. We're excited to connect you with the farmers who work so hard to bring them to you and to collaborate with fair traders around the world to bring you the best that farmers, traders and even the bees have to offer.
*According to the US Department of Agriculture
**See this New York Times article