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Nature's Partner?
03/08/2010

Nature's Partner?

What you might not realize is that Giumarra is not only a huge grape growing conglomerate, but also a mega distributer of imported produce, much of which is sold under their Nature's Partner label. The Nature's Partner label includes avocados, grapes, berries, asparagus, stone fruit, apples and pears, kiwi, citrus, tomatoes, melons, cucumber, peppers, squash, eggplant, and so-called exotics from all over the world with the bulk of their imports coming from Chile, Mexico, and Peru.

It is widely accepted that child labor and bonded labor are not uncommon in many of these areas. The US Department of Labor reports that child labor is used heavily in Peruvian agriculture, where children work 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week without going to school and receive half the adult wage.* Conditions tend to be poor and sometimes even hazardous. In the agricultural labor camps of Sinaloa and Sonora in northern Mexico, there are many documented cases of workers contracting chronic-degenerative illness from pesticide exposure and losing limbs from lack of labor protections in the fields, where 20% of the workforce is under 14 years of age**. In Chile, over 200,000 agricultural workers are paid less than the minimum wage of $200 a month and the largely female seasonal workforce is highly discriminated against, marginalized, and mistreated.

In addition to the abysmal working conditions found in agricultural production in these countries, there are also reasons to be concerned for your health and the environment when you purchase many imported fresh fruits and vegetables. The Environmental Working Group lists grapes imported from Chile on their "Dirty Dozen" list for their high levels of pesticide residues. According to the US EPA, imported Chilean grapes are treated with sulfur dioxide gas and are shipped here on pads treated with sulfur dioxide in order prevent mold growth on the long trip over. Sulfur Dioxide is linked to respiratory illnesses. Peruvian asparagus, another major Nature's Partner crop, is fumigated heavily with methyl bromide, which the EPA classifies as a deadly substance for the poisoning, neurological damage, and reproductive harm it can cause.

And consider this: Imported Chilean table grapes have traveled thousands of miles. Imagine the impact of all that transportation and cooling. How can we call a company with such a heavy carbon footprint Nature's Partner?