Here are some reflections from the weekend...
"The conference was exactly the kind of urgent work we should be doing: engaging directly with our stakeholders to honestly and creatively challenge the thoroughly unjust status quo. No commodity better illustrates what is so wrong with our entire global food system. If we donâ€™t challenge this travesty, who will?"
Rob Everts, Co-Executive Director of Equal Exchange and panel moderator at the conference
"[The Conference] has given me new insights into the realities of organic and Fairtrade in the US. There is a real need for truly sustainable products that are brought to consumers through credible value chains. Fair trade and organic must not degenerate into clever marketing spin but continue to have tangible value and benefits for people in the field, and the field itself."
Hans-Willem van der Waal, European fairtrade importer and panelist at the conference
"It is great to be part of a network that is striving to revolutionize the trade system. A network that spans generations and isn't motivated by just profit, sales, or success in business, but by the ethics we were told we'd outgrow once we 'got a little older...' Co-ops and values-driven retailers create change. Our dedication to educating consumers reflects our responsibility for starting and continuing the important conversations about the truth of our food system. With the challenges facing not just the phrase 'fair trade' but the ideal of supporting small producers across the globe, we must continue to build excitement among those core consumers who will continue to demand changes from the mainstream. We set the bar for ethical consumption and in doing so, we must be brave and take risks, because that is what our customers, and the small farmers we all rely on, expect of us."
Abby Rae LaCombe, P6 Coordinator at Eastside Food Co-op and attendee of the conference
"In 1998 I stopped buying bananas. As a Registered Dietitian, I struggled between omitting a healthy food that is easy to pack and eaten by people of every age, and honoring the farmers and farm workers who bear the violence, disease and hardship of raising and exporting fruit to the U.S. Thank you to Equal Exchange for organizing the film screening and conference and their willingness to host honest and transparent dialogue around this topic."
Helen Costello, Consumer/Food Systems Advocateand attendee of the conference
"I came back as excited and energized about the future of bananas, fair trade, and the banana business as I hope [other attendees] did. The passion and excitement [of Equal Exchange], colleagues, friends, and fellow presenters/panelists exhibited really inspired me. I really believe, more than ever, that the banana industry can and will change for the better."
Dan Koeppel, author and panelist at the conference