out of sight, out of mind: bananas, eggs & fair trade

Truth is, it doesn’t matter where bananas come from or who harvests them, right? I mean, we don’t see the people who gather them and their well-being is not our responsibility. (Right?) If you want to keep living like a cave man or woman, you can keep thinking that way.  You know, back in the day people killed others in order to survive.  Well, we don’t exactly “kill” people when we forget about them, we just add our tiny drop in the bucket of their pain.  No big deal.  We can’t see them, so we can pretend they don’t exist.  Plus we have other things to worry about, like giant first-world problems!

I used to think I could change the whole world.  It was my purpose, my mission and I was going to do it single-handedly. (I thought all kinds of other things too, which I won’t confess at this moment.) Nowadays I know I can’t really “change the world” all by myself, but I do have the ability to add my own drop in the bucket of good things, so I figure I can do at least that.  I think one of the reasons why more people don’t add their own “drop in the bucket of good things”, is because they think it’s almost useless.  They buy fair trade, yet the people are still poor and suffering.  Nothing changes! …and it gets so discouraging.

You always have the option to change tracks and be on the side of people who add drops to the bucket of their pain.  That option will never leave you!

I can’t buy fair trade everything, but I can start somewhere, and I start with bananas.  Actually, no, I start with free-range-chicken eggs.  Once I looked into the eyes of a white chicken that couldn’t walk because it had been in a tiny cage its whole life.  This chicken didn’t need to be tied by the foot like all other chickens I had ever seen in my life–and I’ve seen a lot.  When I was a kid, we had about 300 of them–and gave most of them names!  But that white chicken shocked me.  It’s eyes had a soul, it had feeling; it was like a person, who could think, comprehend, and suffer.

That was a 5-minute experience that transformed me while I was in the jungle of Chiapas.  I didn’t do anything at the time, but when I came back to the states, I couldn’t go back to my old way of being.  I could no longer just buy what I wanted without thinking of where it came from, and I definitely couldn’t buy the cheap, white eggs that come in styrofoam cartons.  So I began eating free range eggs, and realized that the approximately 1 extra dollar difference went completely unnoticed.  Out of sight and out of mind.

When I decided to eat only organic, fair trade bananas, it came with a two-part inner transformation.  I thought it was time to quit thinking like a poor person. I had been broke my whole life!  One thing about growing up orphaned, hungry and abandoned, is that that way of being becomes the entire landscape of your thinking and is covered by what you don’t have.  And you can’t draw from what you don’t have to give to someone else. So I quit looking at price tags and started buying just what I truly wanted–and I truly wanted fair trade bananas. So I made up my mind to switch tracks and not look back.  Again, I have not noticed the couple dollar difference at all. 

I don’t know if anyone knows or cares about the drops in the bucket of good things that I add.  It may never be noticed at all in the sea of buckets. But I do know that I’m the one who has to live with myself, and I’m the one who knows which side of the track I’ve been on my whole life, and I’m the one who gets to eat the much more delicious & flavorful eggs & bananas!

9 thoughts on “out of sight, out of mind: bananas, eggs & fair trade

  1. You are right! Personally I discovered the real meaning of Fair Trade about 8 years ago during a school project week of my older daughter. We learned so much that since then we only buy Fair Trade products , like sugar & bananas & pay attention to clothing as well, always read the tags about production, material e.t.c.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this! I work in Colombia and have seen the struggles of Colombian farmers to earn a living growing crops like bananas. Historically, there is a long tradition of human rights abuses and links to armed conflict associated with multi national banana companies.

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  3. I’m totally with you on this. One can either put a lot of effort into fighting society and the way things are – or give up and resign oneself to do nothing – or take a pragmatic approach: make choices that fit your views where such choices are available. This is what I did when I found that it too difficult for me to remain vegan after 4 years of living this way, and chose to return to being vegetarian.

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