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Whole Foods Market has introduced ethically sourced EARTH University frozen pineapples and bananas to enable its shoppers to support a nonprofit organization that teaches young leaders about sustainable agriculture, ethical entrepreneurship and community development. As the majority of EARTH’s students hail from poor, rural communities in the tropics, sales of the two new frozen fruit SKUs, which are sold under the retailer’s “Whole Trade” program, will provide crucial funding for student scholarships, as well as finance research and investment in organic and sustainable agricultural production.
“EARTH University has been leading the charge in sustainable production methods for nearly 20 years,” noted Michael Besancon, senior global VP of purchasing, distribution and communications for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “[The] two new frozen fruit options … not only taste great, but [also] offer our shoppers a way to use their buying power to educate leaders who will combat poverty and promote ethical and sustainable food production.”
Located in the tropical rainforest of Costa Rica, EARTH University aims to prepare young people from Latin America, the Caribbean and other regions, among them Africa and Asia, to assist in the sustainable development of their countries, and build a prosperous and just society.
The organization has run a commercial banana farm since its founding, as a way to to raise funding for scholarships. EARTH’s Rainforest Alliance-certified farm produces about 600,000 boxes of sustainably grown bananas annually, almost all of which are sold at Whole Foods and are now available frozen. Additionally, the organization sources pineapples for the grocer from a Rainforest Alliance-certified farm and is working to improve sustainable pineapple production. Both of the frozen fruit options aare harvested and frozen at the peak of freshness to ensure great flavor.
“EARTH University's products are not just sustainable, not just ethical, not just delicious -- they are also making a lasting impact in communities around the world,” said Jose Zaglul, president of EARTH University, whose headquarters offices are in Atlanta. “Every purchase makes it possible for young people to study at EARTH and become leaders for social, economic and environmental well-being in their countries.”
Of the more than 1,500 EARTH alumni, 86 percent have returned to their home countries and more than 20 percent have started their own businesses, creating jobs and creating opportunities for growth, while 75 percent of grads report having made a positive social impact.
To earn Whole Foods’ Whole Trade Guarantee seal, growers must ensure fair wages and safe working conditions while caring for the environment.