There is No Child Labour in Our Tomato Products!
If you've read the news this morning, you've probably heard that some of the products sold in grocery stores back home are made with tomatoes from China. Specifically, Xinjian, a territory in China where the Uyghur people have been subjected to mass detentions and torture by the Chinese government, in what many countries have called genocide. Today’s news highlights why knowing your farmer is so important to us. Today’s conversations were sparked by this article about essential child slavery in the tomato industry!
What a horror. This kind of news always hits us hard because it is something we care about. It reminds us that the labelling system in Canada does not allow the consumer to trace the origin of the food on our plates.
Why is that?
Well, the Canadian consumer may never really know the true origins of that tomato product by looking at the label, as regulations do not require a company to disclose the full geographic composition of the raw material, only the country in which it was last processed. It cannot tell us if slaves were used or worse those slaves were children. We are even more appalled to learn that people who have been forced to flee their homelands as a result of war, pestilence, and drought, are enslaved by the very people who are feeding us and claiming to be TOP quality products!
We believe it is important to be able to trace our ingredients to local farmers who share the same values by committing to providing products made with quality food -- quality food that has a conscience. That’s why we always buy local tomatoes first and we import Organic Certified tomatoes when out of season. These are currently grown in California.
“We always buy local tomatoes first and we import Organic Certified tomatoes when out of season. These are currently grown in California.’’
Unfortunately, our two most important ingredients are chillies and lime juice which are not (yet) indigenous to Canada. So even though Eco-local was part of our policy, the term didn't cover everything.
In 2007, we were given the mandate by TransFair, now Fairtrade Canada to create a global market for Fair Trade Certified peppers and we launched our Pepperfire Initiative and then lending the name "Fair Trade" seemed like a good idea too, so we coined the term “Slow Fair Trade”
With our ability to source fresh peppers from far away countries comes the responsibility to ensure that the farm uses as little pesticide and herbicide as possible, does not use forced labor, and offers a living wage to its employees and itself.
“Protect the environment and support the producer”
In this way, we not only provide better quality to our customers, but we also protect the environment and the producers.
Incidents like this show us that our initiatives count. That partnering with organizations like Fairtrade Canada and participating in projects like the Pepperfire Initiative ensures that what goes on the plates of our consumers, our friends... you, is ethical and morally responsible. In this way, we not only provide better quality to our customers, but we also protect the environment and the producers.
We continue to work hard to make the food business more responsible and the world a little more fair. Thank you for your trust and support. As Tina likes to say, we have a food chain to save.
Brooks Pepperfire Foods