Social Justice

PCC Natural Markets is committed to being a positive force in the lives of people who work in our supply chain. We will not tolerate child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, abuse or harassment.  We expect employers meet or exceed legal requirements for labor practices, worker health and safety, and housing.

Fair labor berries

PCC participated in ongoing conversations with Driscoll’s Berries in 2016 to better understand some labor issues and encourage development of a Certified Fair Trade line. By December, Driscoll’s let us know it could begin shipping us Certified Fair Trade strawberries and raspberries in early 2017.

The first shipments arrived in January and we’re happy to say we expect to have them through April and into May. They’ll be available again in the fall, from October through December. In the intervening summer months, we’ll have other berries, including local organic choices. PCC will buy Fair Trade berries whenever we can get them.

Since organic berries come from across Mexico and California, and because the Fair Trade program is up and running only in the Baja so far, the Fair Trade supply is limited. It is possible PCC could have Fair Trade berries one day, and non-Fair Trade berries the next – or both at the same time. Fair Trade berries can be identified by the Fair Trade logo on the package.

Driscoll’s says it sees the Fair Trade USA program as a way to give farm workers a voice in their community and invest in community projects. It says they looked for where the greatest need was and it was in the Baja, so that’s where they began. It says Fair Trade fits the area very well.

Driscoll’s also says the Fair Trade program is expanding and more growers are joining the certification process. Once the 2017 certification process is complete, about 5,500 berry workers in Baja will be covered by the Fair Trade USA program.

Now, every purchase of Driscoll’s Certified Fair Trade strawberries and raspberries at PCC will help put money into a fund for farm worker community improvements. We’ll keep you posted on how the berry workers vote to spend the revenue from this growing Fair Trade program.

Updated: January 18, 2017

Fair labor chocolate

PCC is believed to be the first U.S. grocer to sell only chocolate made from ethically sourced cocoa. We sell chocolate only from vendors providing assurances that child slave labor is prohibited and follow International Labor Organization Fundamental Conventions. These include strict prohibitions against child slave labor, as well as provisions about age, working conditions and fair wages for all workers. PCC requires its chocolate vendors to answer specific questions and sign affidavits ensuring their chocolate adheres to this standard. All brands must be either certified by an independent third party, or sign PCC’s Supplier Agreement ensuring they meet the standard.

See our criteria for fair labor chocolate.

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Fair labor bananas

PCC sells only fair labor bananas, absorbing the upcharge without passing it on to shoppers. The money goes to the GROW Foundation to improve the lives of field workers and provide resources for their communities, such as free daycare. The program has provided medical, dental and educational programs and scholarships for students in Colima, Mexico. PCC has raised more than $100,000 since 2006.

Meet recipients of the GROW scholarship program, and learn how the GROW program started.

Fair labor coffee

Since 2003, all PCC whole bean coffee is fairly traded or traded direct, and is certified organic and shade-grown. Fair prices and access to credit supports better nutrition and healthcare for farming families, keeps the kids in school, and enables reinvestment in the farms. Fair trade also is good for the environment, encouraging sustainable farming methods that are safer for communities and wildlife. Learn about a fair trade certification by farmers for farmers, how the coffee program began at PCC, the difference certification has made in one mountain village, and the sourcing of some popular brands.

Fair labor seafood

PCC’s fresh seafood comes from the USA only, in part to avoid seafood procured by illegal fishing and by practices that exploit workers in other parts of the world. Some canned tuna at PCC is foreign-caught, but vendors have provided written assurance that their operations are not engaged in labor abuses. Forced labor exists throughout the world, but the problem is most pronounced in the South China Sea, especially in the Thai fishing fleet, which faces perennial worker shortages. The shortages are filled primarily by using migrants, mostly from Cambodia and Myanmar, who are lured across the border by traffickers only to become slaves on floating labor camps. Read about sustainable shrimp and tuna at PCC.

Fair labor sugar

Many scientists agree the combination of dehydration from long work days in hot sun, along with exposure to toxic agrichemicals (some containing dioxin), are two factors contributing to chronic kidney disease that has killed tens of thousands of sugar cane workers in Central America over the past 20 years. At PCC, we choose to support socially and environmental responsible practices by buying sugar from ethical sources, such as Wholesome Sweeteners.

Wholesome Sweeteners provides most of the sugar sold at PCC and it comes from Paraguay, not Central America, where chronic kidney disease is prevalent in the sugar cane industry. Wholesome Sweeteners sugar is produced without toxic pesticides or fertilizers and is Certified Fair Trade, ensuring humane working conditions. It’s produced by employees and farmers who have access to social programs that include health care and education.

More fair labor products