What’s the difference between conventional and fair trade bananas? The 6th grade class from St. Joseph’s Montessori School found out during a recent visit to Global Gifts Short North.
Store manager, Alissa Head took the students on an imaginary journey around the world to various countries where bananas are grown and then shipped out and sold to consumers, like you and me. She talked about the way banana farmers in developing countries like Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Mexico are often mistreated, underpaid, and forced to work in unsafe conditions. The group watched informative clips from the documentary, “Banana Land” to illustrate this.
Students split up into groups to participate in a “Market Share” exercise in which each group took on a particular role in the banana supply chain. They were the grower, development company, shipping company, wholesaler, or retailer and had the task of dividing up the amount of money a banana will bring in.
To end the program on a sweet note, students sampled slices of fair trade bananas dipped in melted Equal Exchange chocolate chips!
While, in the exercise, each group gave the largest share of banana money to the growers, students found out that, in real life, this is not the case for growers of conventional bananas. Alissa then explained how the experiences of fair trade certified farmers differ. Not only are fair trade banana farmers guaranteed a living wage and safe and dignified working conditions, their organic farming practices are also better for the Earth.
[Pictured here are Global Gifts intern Alyah and volunteer Mary Jo making chocolate-covered bananas.]