We source the majority of our nuts from Equal Exchange. All of EE's almonds are grown organically in Denair, CA by Burroughs Family Farms. The Burroughs family falls right in line with our ethos of organic, small-scale, innovative farming.
All of our almonds are certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), and steam pasteurized in accordance with USDA standards. EE only buys almonds that are steam pasteurized, as this method eliminates potential contaminants, without "cooking" or destroying the proteins, vitamins, and minerals in the nuts. Steam pasteurization does not affect the nutritional or sensory characteristics of the almond, and the almonds remain "sprout-able."
Moving on to cashews:
We source our cashews from several producer co-ops throughout the world. India is our primary source, with our partner on the ground being Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK). In recent years however, we've branched out to other developing co-ops in Burkina Faso (West Africa), Honduras, and most notably, El Salvador. As we don't have a polished info-sheet summarizing our Salvadoran partner co-op, Aprainores, here's a snippet from our Education and Campaigns Coordinator, who helped begin EE's relationship with this co-op:
"The 55 members of the Aprainores cashew co-op were given small parcels of land along the southern coast of El Salvador through a land transfer program established in the 1992 Peace Accords. Prior to the war, the 175-acre cashew farm was the property of one foreign landowner. These cashews are grown on a protected mangrove estuary and hand-processed in a facility by local women who work handcrafting each individual cashew.
The majority of Aprainores farmers were combatants during El Salvador’s twelve-year civil war and their family members who stayed in the area and suffered through the tremendous violence and repression. Today, they have rebuilt their communities and are now fishing and doing organic farming. Approximately half of the members live and farm on the Island of Montecristo in the Lempa River, a protected estuary, home to many endangered species. The farms are only accessible by motorboat and the cashews are gathered by mule-driven carts, loaded on to the small boats, and brought back to the mainland for processing.
Through their relationship with Equal Exchange, the Aprainores farmers have participated in a unique coop development fund, calledGrow Together, which has enabled them to create a nursery and grow thousands of seedlings to replenish the older cashew trees; hire technical assistance; and create a Revolving Loan Fund which enables the farmers to better maintain their farms and buy food for their families in between harvests."