The Ethics of Berries

Written by Jamie Taylor Ballesta

 

If you’ve been looking for yet another reason to buy locally grown, organic berries, then this might be the information necessary to get you to that point.

So, I’ve been on quite the smoothie kick lately- I don’t have all that much time in the morning to really prepare something beautiful, filling, and nutritious, which is why I’ve really doubled down on incorporating as many fruits and veggies as possible into my ninja blender. I feel fortunate enough to be able to buy things like organic berries and freeze them for use year-round. Beyond gratitude, I hadn’t put much thought into how they make their way from the ground to my blender. However, as with a lot of issues our society is reckoning with this year, the production of these berries isn’t as ethical as we may think, and that reason is the labor aspect needed for harvesting them.

A Little Background

When you go to buy groceries from the store, be it Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Costco, Albertsons, or Safeway (to name a few), you may have noticed that the majority of the berries you see available are produced by Driscoll’s, “a California-based seller of fresh strawberries and other berries (Driscolls.com).” What you won’t see on their label is the statistic from only three years ago stating that Driscoll’s controlled about one-third of the $6 billion U.S. berry market. One-third. That’s a superhuman amount of responsibility that’s been placed within this family-owned company. This begs the question: why, if Driscoll’s is profiting so enormously from this industry, are they still only paying their farmworkers $6/day for 12 hours of work per day? The statistic is hard to wrap one’s head around given the magnitude of this company’s profit from the labor of its seasonal and migrant workers. (thinkprogress.org)

In the case of Driscoll’s, they claimed that they do not have the authority to enforce whether or not their independent growers “recognize FUJ’s (Families United for Justice) union because ‘current Washington State law does not yet include a provision for farm workers’ unions.’” Meaning: ‘We can’t control how the farms we partner with treats its workers.’ This negligence isn’t new. In 2019,  a farm under the Driscoll’s label had an incident with ‘pesticide drift,’ causing 27 farmworkers to grow ill. (SFGate.com)

Earth Matterz’s Response

Given all of this information, (new to me to an extent and having been a buyer of Driscoll’s products for years), I’m even more proud to be working with a company like Earth Matterz, who practices the values they preach: providing ethically grown and harvested, locally sourced, and organically created produce to the people who have decided to make this conscious effort to do better in all senses of the phrase. It’s the firmest-held belief of Founder Kali Star that we can do good in this world by helping people put good food into their bodies. 

We partner with smaller, local farms that are all either certified organic, registered organic, or naturally grown. In doing this, we avoid becoming party to the harmful practices that larger distributors of produce are involved in. “Earth Matterz is excited by the possibilities for people like us who are supporting a better way,” says Kali. It’s with this care and compassion that Kali and the Earth Matterz family invites you to explore just exactly what our company is about and see the commitment we have to you and the community we serve.

 

With Love and Kindness,

Jamie

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