This week you may notice that the shelves where Herrcastle Farm, the other produce vendor, was set up are now empty. This is because Sunday was their last day at Creekside. There are a few things that I want to say about this. First, it’s no cause for alarm. Business is strong. To give you any idea, more than double the amount of turkeys have been ordered compared to last year (which reminds me, if you want one, please hurry. almost sold out). Anyway, I’m not going anywhere.

Second, if you ever thought about starting a business, now’s your chance. We are looking for new vendors.

Lastly, Herrcastle sold avocados, bananas, and citrus, things that are not local. And since they are not local I tend to shy away from them. If you’ve been on this newsletter for a while, you know many of the reasons why I focus on local food. If you’re new here (welcome!), check out this blog post. But when it comes to things like avocados, bananas, and citrus the issue becomes more alarming and upsetting.

When drug lords came to the brilliant realization that, while not everyone snorts cocaine, everyone does in fact eat food, they diversified their operations into the avocado industry. With the surge of the legal marijuana industry in the United States, growing avocadoes in Mexico became more profitable than growing drugs. It’s at a point right now where MOST of the avocadoes (and also Mexican berries) sold in places like Acme and Shoprite are coming from drug lords who are either growing it themselves or who tax, threaten, and murder farmers who do. Not to mention that they also chop down old forests on a daily basis to plant more avocado trees.

Chiquita Banana and Fresh Del Monte: more pieces of work. They fund and aid Columbian paramilitary terrorist groups in exchange for protection of local banana farmers. At least they are loyal to their employees, except when it comes to exposing the children who work for them and for their partner plantations to extremely toxic pesticides without protection, paying them poverty wages, and requiring that they work a 12-hour work day. And let’s not forget that Chiquita Banana is the successor to the United Fruit Company, which has a long, dark history of staging coups against democratically elected governments in Central America.

Health food stores like Whole Foods go through Fair Trade companies like Equal Exchange, a brand that pays farmers fairly, presumably. This is not an option for us. I have no way of confirming with absolute certainty that cartels are not in some way involved in Equal Exchange’s avocadoes, especially because they are coming from Michoacán, a region that has like 10 cartels that are active in the avocado industry.

When I first learned that Herrcastle was leaving, I was presented with a challenge. For one, I don’t tend to carry nonlocal produce because I prefer to keep dollars within the local economy. But, I don’t want people to go elsewhere for bananas, avocadoes, and citrus because of everything I just mentioned. After not being satisfied with any Fair Trade companies, I had the thought to find a small-scale organic farmer in California who sells at their farmers markets and who would ship to us directly. Well, I found a few. I’ve sent emails and left voicemails. I’ll report back after I get some more information. I do have some pineapples today sourced by Lancaster Farm Fresh, a company that I trust. Bananas will be more difficult to find and will take time, and I can’t even guarantee that I’ll get any. Doing my best.

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