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Miranda Radok - May 1, 2012

Many of you may remember the 2009 documentary Bananas!* which exposed atrocious working conditions on Nicaraguan banana plantations, and documented the Dole Corporation's court trial by a Nicaraguan community who fought to hold the coporation responsible for the long-lasting impacts of chemical use on the community.

After the film was released, the Dole Food company ended up suing the sweedish filmaker that produced the documentary. The filmaker's fight for the film and for freedom of speech is presented in a sequel, Big Boys Gone Bananas!*which will be playing this weekend at the DOXA documentary film festival as part of their Justice Forum. The intent of the Justice Forum is to offer DOXA audiences a means for direct engagement with global justice issues through passionate and expansive discussion about the films presented in the festival.

Not only will Discovery's Managing Director, Randy Hooper, be leading the discussion after the film, but also, the filmaker, Fredrik Gertten,  will be at the screening to present the film! 

Sunday May 6 | 6:00 PM | Pacific Cinémathèque

http://www.doxafestival.ca/festival/films/big_boys

+Continue reading The DOXA Documentary Film Festival - Big Boys Gone Bananas!*+
Miranda Radok - April 30, 2012

The following blog was written by Jamie Perchie from the Kootenay Co-op, who was one of 10 participants selected for an internship to farm in Northern Mexico at the Ejido Benito Juarez Leyes de Reforma.

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This past March, I was lucky to have to the opportunity to spend two weeks at the Ejido Benito Juarez Leyes de Reforma in Northern Mexico. It was a fantastic opportunity that allowed me to see first hand where our produce comes from and all the hard work that goes into getting fruit and veggies to our shelves in Canada. 

I worked long days in the fields alongside the other farmers at the Ejido, with the typical farming day starting at 6:30 am by picking the crops and pre-washing them before sending them off to the packing shed. After we picked whatever was ready, we then cleaned up the other plants by pulling off the outer leaves, allowing room for the plant to grow until the next harvest. During the time I spent at the Ejido they were mainly growing beets, chards, kales, corn and collards. 

+Continue reading Jamie from the Kootenay Co-op Recounts His Experience Farming in Mexico+
Randy Hooper - April 27, 2012
Category: Produce Update

All is good in apple land, with tons of the most popular varieties in stock. 

It’s been hell getting trucks out of Mexico the last few days, and our first major load of Fair Trade mangos won’t arrive until mid-week – something we’re not too happy about.  Of course this beautiful fruit hasn’t been hot water treated because it doesn’t touch U.S. soil – where it is required – poor them! This mango production area we are working in currently is one of the most dangerous in Mexico and some truckers just won’t go there. 

Our next load of avocados should be in by Monday.  Remember Cinco de Mayo is around the corner!  This late season fruit from Mexico is the bestest – the highest oil and most flavour of the year.

Bagged kiwi sales were so brisk the last two weeks, it looks like were hooped on California unless we can dig some up, then we have to wait for the beginning of the NZ crop to arrive – it’s on the water now. 

Reasonable supply of strawberries despite the crappy weather. 

We’ve been striking gold on asparagus! 

Can you folks ALL put bunch beets on special please!  We are getting HUGE volumes from our Ejido project – nice 12 count boxes and priced to move – and especially BIG displays from those of you who have been down to work there on our intern program. 

Lots more of those beautiful Givens bunch carrots on the way – these sell as fast as Ralphs Greenhouse product in the summer. 

Field cuke prices isn’t dropping – we just have them on a redunculous price because we got double shipped.  A good in-store special? 

Nice to see so many listings from our network of small growers in Washington and Oregon – some of these growers took a big risk with over-winter plantings and didn’t get hit with any Arctic blasts.  Even the Mustard Seed cauliflower was planted in the fall, and we feel very rewarded.

+Continue reading An Abundance of Bunch Beets From Our Ejido Project+
Randy Hooper - April 25, 2012
Category: Produce Update

Not much change on the apple front – still lots of B.C. and Washington available, and the first Fair Trade Galas should be in on Tuesday from Argentina. 

Next shot of avocado due in on Friday – we have reasonably good supply, and lots of bagged avos as well, which are on special.

More FT grapefruit en route, and FT mangos arriving early in the week as we get geared up for Fair Trade fortnight.  Hoping to have 14 different FT items in stock by May 1! 

The first cantaloupe of the season have popped up at Francisco Tepia’s ranch in Hermosillo – expect smaller fruit and higher pricing until the main pull starts on the coast from Guaymas south – these areas are cooler being on the ocean.

Citrus supply remains strong, although some specialty fruit will wane over the next couple of weeks – loads of Navels still available from southern areas of the Central Valley – we expect good supply for 3 – 4 weeks. 

Pear supply continues to increase – don’t miss out on the beautiful Abate Fetels – that is a very short season from the south.  Yes we still have good supply of B.C. Concorde and D’Anjous – firm and green! 

California blues are off to a mediocre start, with continuing crappy weather, but prices will come off despite this. 

Lots of beautiful bunch carrots from John Givens back in stock – we jump at every chance we can get these – the sell through is excellent. 

Have you ever heard of “over winter” cauliflower?  Planted in the Pacific NW, as long as we don’t have a harsh winter, these European varieties are planted out in September, and produce beautiful white crowns – the variety is Snowburst, and we have Oregon cauli arriving tomorrow. 

+Continue reading Highlights of the week: Spectacular Bunched Carrots and Overwintered Snowburst Cauli+
Miranda Radok - April 24, 2012

With EPIC around the corner, we recently chatted with the Vancouver Observer about why it is important for us to be a apart of the Fair Trade Pavilion at this year's EPIC Sustainable Living Expo.

Our primary goal for being at EPIC is to educate consumers about Fair Trade and the social impact that it is making. The Fair Trade Movement is starting to gain momentum in Canada. Many Canadians are aware that Fair Trade guarantees fair prices, and fair labour conditions for producers - which means living wages, gender equity and no child labor.  But what most don't realize is that Fair Trade goes far beyond that - it is is making a huge a social impact with 10% of each purchase price going directly to the producers' communities for community development projects.

Over the last few years, Discovery's purchases alone have brought nearly $350,000 in social premiums to our growers' communities across Latin America. A school for handicapped children, literacy programs, dental and eye clinics, education and micro-finance systems, are just a few of the many great social projects that have resulted from consumers making the choice to buy Fair Trade produce.

+Continue reading The Fair Trade Pavilion at EPIC+
Randy Hooper - April 21, 2012
Category: Produce Update

Lots of news! 

Here’s you apple update:  production is way down in the global south.  New Zealand is short 500 containers compared to last year – that’s 500,000 cases alone!. Some argentina suppliers are being prorated down to 10% of initial orders.  Apples in Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand peaked at 110 / 120 count instead of 90 / 100 count.  This is global warming.  Gala harvests in Argentina are mostly going to juice – besides poor production, hot spells ripened the fruit before it was sized up – and pressure is 20% higher, so a lot of fruit is cracking.  We will do our best, with direct imports from all countries, but be ready to sell a lot of bagged fruit this summer, as growers will be packing 120 / 135 even 150 in bags instead of traypacks.  With the washington packs ending a month earlier than normal, except on reds - and the normal high volumes of cameo are being chewed through quickly.  We do have lots of fruit in stock – mostly gala, pink lady and fuji, which is a good thing! 

+Continue reading Global Warming Affecting Southern Hemisphere Apple Production+
Miranda Radok - April 18, 2012

The following entry was written by Claudia Kempe, a recent Bachelor of Commerce graduate from UBC's Sauder School of Business. Over February and March of this year, Claudia spent 7 weeks in Peru volunteering for Discovery working with BOS, and Propalta, to learn about Fair Trade and business in the developing world.

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Having had graduated with a business undergraduate degree in December 2011, I was a recent graduate, confident in my new abilities and believed that I had the knowledge and expertise to jump into a career in international business. I had had several opportunities to travel and explore different corners of the world, work in different industries and meet exceptionally brilliant individuals from various sectors. But, in January 2012 I quickly realized how unprepared, inexperienced and naïve I actually was.

After sheer luck led me to Randy Hooper, founder and owner of Discovery Organics, a Canadian distributor of certified organic and fair trade produce, I was presented with a once-in-a-life-time opportunity: to accompany Randy and his team to Peru to meet his Peruvian suppliers. These are, for the most part, poor yet resolute local farmers that use the most basic and dated methods to grow, count, treat and harvest their produce. They have been taken advantage of and cheated out of the fair value for their fruits and vegetables all too often by greedy middlemen and multinational corporations, who buy the produce for pennies and sell it abroad for very attractive margins. The growers are rarely in a position to bargain, as buyers may be infrequent and hard to come by – and denying an offer could potentially jeopardize the livelihood of the growers and their families.

+Continue reading Business for the Better: International Business for the Developing World+
Randy Hooper - April 18, 2012
Category: Produce Update

No changes to the apple front – a couple of sizes have dropped out, but strong inventory on the main sellers Gala and Fuji.  There is still a pretty good supply in the pipeline. 

Thanks for your help on bananas while we suffered through the “flood fruit” and are now back into our regular high quality bulk fruit in the next day or so as our new product ripens up. 

Avocado’s are lean – once again sales have swelled and our next load doesn’t arrive for a week.  This will be our last shot from Planeta Verde.  We expected our first Peruvian load to arrive about now, but port strikes in Panama have slowed that down for a week or two. 

Mango quality continues excellent on all varieties.  Our first Mexican Fair Trade fruit will ship shortly – all varieties.  Mango pricing should reach more traditional levels in a couple of weeks as the crop from all areas looks strong, and that will run through October. 

Abate Fetel pears have arrived – the smoothest textured sweet dessert pear out there. Sales will be brisk.  Seven different pear varieties available in over 20 packouts – of which close to ½ are Fair Trade. 

We snagged a fairly good pile of strawberries.  Despite terrible conditions for this time of year, Watsonville will come on soon, which should keep pricing stable, with a downward trend expected soon if the weather farther north holds. 

Asparagus continues to be a very strong category. 

No major change on the veg front.  Cauli and spinach remain tight – two things that can’t be harvested in the rain.

+Continue reading Excellent fruit selection - Strawberries, Apples, Pears, and Mango+
Miranda Radok - April 18, 2012

Fiddleheads are here! Spring delights, these deep green, curled veggies, are actually the edible shoot of a young ostrich fern that hasn't opened up yet. There's only a couple week window for them to be picked each year, so they're not around for very long, and despite the cold and rainy weather today, I’ll take their arrival as a sign that spring is really here. The fiddlehead gets its name from the instrument for its resemblance to its finely crafted head. But don't be fooled - this seasonal delicacy isn't just pretty - they're actually incredibly nutritious, packed with Omega 3, Omega 6, iron and fibre. 

You probably wouldn't want to eat them raw anyways, but Fiddleheads should always be cooked which makes them taste more pleasant and reduces the risk of any food borne illness. To cook fiddleheads, it is advised to remove the yellow/brown skin, and then boil the sprouts twice with a change of water between boiling. Removing the water reduces the bitterness and the content of tannins and toxins. The cooking time recommended is 15 minutes if boiled and 10 to 12 minutes if steamed. The cooking method recommended by gourmets is to spread a thin layer in a steam basket and steam lightly, just until tender crisp.

+Continue reading What can you do with fiddleheads?+
Miranda Radok - April 17, 2012

Discovery is excited to announce that we have been selected as a finalist for the “Best in Fair Trade” awards from the Fair Trade Resource Network! We have been nominated for the “Most Positive Change in a Producer Community.” We are finalists with some pretty big names in the Fair Trade movement, so we're quite honored to be up against such remarkable organizations - Ten Thousand Villages and Interrupcion Fair Trade, who is one of Fair Trade suppliers.

We want to thank all of you for the support that you have shown for Fair Trade. Your commitment to our Fair Trade programs has transformed communities throughout Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina, by providing education, infrastructure, community development, and economic empowerment.

We do what we do because we are passionate about Fair Trade and social justice for our farmers in developing countries. We have worked tirelessly to expand our selection of Fair Trade products and to increase our social impact. This nomination is recognition that we are making a difference, and motivation to continue to move forward because we’re not going to stop!

+Continue reading Discovery is a Finalist for the "Best in Fair Trade" Awards+