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For whatever reason, my 2-year-old associates the word "errand" with bananas. I say, "I've got to run some errands," and she says, "You get more bo-mannas? You come back more bo-mannas?"

Okay, so it might have something to do with our family of three eating about a banana and a half every day.

I'd never given much thought to how bananas are grown. They don't make the Clean 15 list as being lowest in pesticides, but they're also not on the Dirty Dozen. With such a thick skin, it seemed like paying the premium for organic bananas was an option I'd take when I won the lottery.

Until I went to Ecuador, one of the world's top 10 banana producers for export. While I didn't have the chance to tour a "conventional" banana plantation, we drove by mile after mile of mono-cropped banana fields, some protected by electric fences.

A huge contrast to these flat expanses of banana trees was the hilly agroecological farm of Wilson Sanchez. Sanchez is a participant in a new Heifer project called Strengthening the Productive Diversity of Agro-Forestry Small Holders in El Oro, Azuay and Guayas Project. Witnessing the hard work and dedication required to grow bananas for export, learning about the negative environmental impacts of conventional bananas and the alternative provided by agroecology, and scratching the surface of the Fair Trade banana movement, gave me a new outlook on bananas.

Over the next several days, I'll share some photos and videos I captured of Wilson Sanchez and others involved in this small community of agroecological banana producers. Hopefully, by the end of it, you will be as convinced as I am that Fair Trade, organic bananas are worth the premium. This is definitely one of those cases where "voting with your dollar" means something real.

Author

Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She and her husband raise two daughters in a house way too small for their four pets. They spend a lot of time sweeping.

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