Fair Trade Month
October is Fair Trade Month. Recently, we were fortunate to have a visit from one of PFC’s fair-trade suppliers, Wholesum Harvest of Sinoloa, Mexico. They have farms and production facilities in Mexico, Arizona, and California, providing organic and fair trade produce to consumers throughout the United States. The company supplies People’s Food Co-op with organic tomatoes, cucumbers, and mangos through our distributor, Co-op Partners.Wholesum Harvest is a family-owned business, and company president, Theojary Crisantes, Sr., visited People’s Food Co-op–Rochester in May for a talk about World Fair Trade.
Theojary is a trained agronomist from UC Davis. His sons, Ricardo, Adrian, and Anthony all have roles in the company. The family farm is over 60 years old and began its transition to organic and fair trade practices more than 20 years ago.
Theojary told us that the decision to be a company using fair trade ideals was influenced by many paths in his life. When Theojary was first developing Wholesum Harvest, he knew that the business needed to stand out among the many competitors in the produce world. “We wanted to be the head of a mouse instead of the tail of a tiger,” he says. Theojary also was guided by his wife, Lourdes Tamayo, a trained social worker, who wanted to improve the lives of people in their community. He was also deeply influenced by Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring.
“When the decision to grow clean, natural food was made, growing organically was the only logical choice. Organic produce comes from seeds that are not genetically modified. When we battle insects that want to harm our crops, we do it with mechanical traps and the introduction of beneficial insects, not synthetic pesticides. To fight weeds, we do it by hand and not with harmful herbicides. Our plants are nourished with natural fertilizers like compost. It’s a methodology that leaves the soil healthy for the next crop, not reeling from multiple chemicals.”
Theojary hopes that Wholesum Harvest is “stirring up good” through democracy, teamwork, leadership, and empathy. The company tries to integrate the daily details of the workers’ culture into the work. They include employees when the company considers how to use its profits for good. Wholesum Harvest has funded workers’ education, medical care, home ownership, and other projects—all in response to employee’s direction on allocation of a portion of company profits. “We’re on our own organic journey,” Theojary says. “We’re learning all the time, and as we learn, we’ll pass that information on to you.”