I want to make sure that the companies that I trust are doing their best to support environmental farming and fair labor practices. To this end, I am writing letters to these companies when I find their products/practices questionable. Here’s the first entry from my letter writing campaign…
Dear Trader Joe’s:
I often buy your frozen edamame (soybeans). I noticed recently that they are a product of China. Why do you buy soybeans from China? How do you ensure that these soybeans are grown in an environmentally responsible manner? How do you ensure that the workers who pick and process the soybeans are paid a fair wage?
Dear Ms. R—:
We understand your concerns with some of our products coming from China. Whenever possible, Trader Joe’s will try to source our produce from growers in the United States. However, often times domestic produce farmers cannot supply us in the amounts that we need and at the prices we are looking for. That is when we will source out products from China and other countries.
All the produce that Trader Joe’s sells from China is grown in accordance with all current USDA regulations. Moreover, the vendors that we deal with are U.S. companies who have farms located in China; they have complete control and regulation of the standards of these farms and follow Good Agricultural Practices. Please be assured that all Trader Joe’s produce is of the highest quality and meets all USDA regulatory standards for food safety.
I like this response, but I will follow up with a letter to address the labor issue. My respondent sidestepped this issue entirely in her reply. Also, I’m not sure that USDA standards are high enough for my satisfaction.
FYI, if you want to mail a similar query to Trader Joe’s, their address is:
P.O. Box 5049
Monrovia, CA 91017-7149