“One of the roles of the PFTA is
community building and it is not
healthy to do this without integrating
women,” Abufarha says.
This year, the women’s co-op’s sun-dried organic maftoul made its way
onto the shelves of all 400 Williams-Sonoma locations, where their story is
likely to get great exposure.
Partnering for Continued
As Canaan Fair Trade has grown,
and continues to do so, a key factor
will be reaching new markets with
their brand, as well as continuing to build partnerships with businesses such as
Dr. Bronner’s. There is talk about the organic personal care company expand-
ing more into food by doing a private label olive oil line (they have just
launched a food-grade coconut oil).
Kat Schuett is the editorial director of Organic Processing Magazine. You can reach her at
palm oil mill, operated by Danieama, a
group of local entrepreneurs, largely
women. To meet Dr. Bronner’s growing need for palm oil, create
economies of scale and offer oil to a
growing number of companies committed to organic and fair production,
Dr. Bronner’s recently partnered with
the German organic pioneer Rapunzel
to build a second mill in the same area.
The fair trade premium paid by Dr.
Bronner’s so far has funded water supply systems, living quarters for nurses at
a hospital and school supplies and uniforms for the mill workers’ children.
In addition, Dr. Bronner’s sources
mint oil through a project in India
started by the essential oil company
Earth Oil and paid for the project’s fair
trade certification and training. Dr.
Bronner’s also did the same for an
avocado oil project and a tea tree oil
project in Kenya, as well as a co-op in
Ecuador that produces ethanol (sugar
alcohol; a preservative and emulsifier
in some of Dr. Bronner’s products).
The company is also currently going
through the certification and training
stage with Sambah Naturals, a honey
project in Zambia, to source fair trade,
organic beeswax, and is entering into
another partnership with the
Com’caac Indians of the Mexican
Sonoran desert to produce fair trade,
organic jojoba oil. Together, these last two projects will put all Dr. Bronner’s
body care products at over 95 percent certified fair trade.
Replicating Dr. Bronner’s Model
Although “going fair trade” was costly and challenging, Dr. Bronner’s hopes
that their business model will inspire other like-minded companies to develop
fair trade sources. Gero
Leson, Dr. Bronner’s director
of special operations points
out that combining organic
and fair trade certification
doesn’t double the work or
cost of organic certification
since inspection and documentation requirements overlap. “We would love to see
others do this, too. We are
highly committed to fair trade
and believe that it’s a powerful way to support rural development. Seeing the huge
impact you make in these
communities is worth it all,”
A Symbol of Hope for Peace:
Olive Oil From the Holy Land
The olive oil used in many
of Dr. Bronner’s products is a
blend sourced from three very
symbolic projects: Canaan in
Palestine, Sindyanna, a project
run by Jewish and Arab women
on the Israeli side of the border, and Strauss Farms, a Jewish family farm in Israel.
While the founder of Dr. Bronner’s, Emil
Heilbronner, was Jewish and had family in Israel, Dr.
Bronner’s sees both sides of the issue and hopes
that through this small yet powerful symbolic act, it
can support a movement for peace in this area of
conflict, and a realization that we are all one.
For more on peaceful co-existence please see