Are Fair Trade Cashews the Right Choice?


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You wouldn’t think that a nut, like a cashew, will have so much going into it.

Although it is said to be one of the most unimportant nuts, the nutritional value it holds surpasses all the other nuts. With the numerous benefits this nut provides, you can certainly add them to your diet. You can use cashews in different recipes or even eat them as a snack because of their versatility. But the main question is, how do these get to you in the first place? Let’s dive into the details.

How Are Cashews Harvested?

Cashew apples growing on the tropical cashew tree

The process from harvesting cashews to processing and packaging is an arduous activity. A lot of people and methods are involved in getting this kidney-bean-shaped nut to you. Even though the processing comes later, harvesting might be the most crucial part of this process.

  • The procedure for cultivating cashews starts with the apple and the nut.

The apple is what the cashew nut is attached to, and it can either be discarded or used as fodder for cattle. It takes about 3 to 5 years after planting for the cashew tree to bear this fruit, and it then matures in 90-100 days after it blooms. The fruits fall to the ground and, as previously mentioned, are used to feed the cattle and fertilize the earth. In many countries, workers prefer to let the fruit fall on the ground instead of picking it directly from the tree. The falling indicates that the fruit is ripe and the nut is ready for harvesting.

  • The next step is neatly detaching the nut from the apple.
The emphasis here is on the ‘neatly’ or else the cashew nut’s quality could be affected. Primarily, the detaching is done with a sharp knife or a nylon thread to ensure precision.
  • The laborers use drying mats, tarps, or concrete floors to air-dry the nuts.
It takes about 3 to 4 days of frequent turning to make sure every nut is dried uniformly. They make sure they do not do this indoors as it will considerably affect the cashew’s quality. Dried well nuts have a rattling sound.
  • The laborers then discard the immature and diseased nuts. The mature nuts are stored in jute sacks to let the air circulate easily.

Why Fair Trade?

All of this does not end here. It is not just the harvesting that is labor-intensive, but the processing part of it all too. In Brazil, using mechanical processors is the norm. However, in developing countries, people work under extensive hours and low wages to process this nut.

After the lengthy harvesting process, it is never a good idea to compromise the product’s quality. It is why it is crucial that the harvest handling is done thoroughly and with perfection. But all of this costs a lot of hard work. Here is when Fair Trade comes in. Laborers who are involved in this process of harvesting have to operate under unforgiving circumstances forcefully. These working conditions may harm them, local communities, local economies, and as a whole, the planet.

A black worker work hard and manually select cashews

To practice ethically and ensure that the cashews are obtained, processed, and sold with the highest humane standards, you should go for fair trade cashews.

But what is Fair Trade, you may ask? It is paying the people in developing countries – the laborers- at a decent wage. These are the laborers who source out this nut and work hard in harvesting it for processing. All of this is so they may afford the basic needs, like food, schooling, and healthcare. People in developed countries who have enough to support themselves are the ones who pay them. And now, the laborers can fulfill their needs too. This method helps address the poverty and the needs of the people who cannot support their families.

Fair Trade cancels out the middleman, which benefits the producers to take home more of the profit. As a response, small producers will have more power and income to sustain themselves and their families. Thus, the community will get the benefit too. Most of the production for cashews is still manual, which means a lot of labor is required. But, how much of it all comes under fair trade? Only 3% of the world’s cashew nuts. That amount seems unfair compared to the amount of hard work that goes into getting these cashew nuts to you.

Why Should You Get Fair Trade Cashews?

Hence, the question still stands, are fair trade cashews the right choice? Fair trade edges over all other alternatives of trades. This whole thing is because of how advantageous it has proven to be. The support of local agronomists can help producers to improve their techniques of organic farming. In return, fair trade will promote agroforestry to assure the preservation of the environment and increased product quality.

These laborers, through fair trade, can increase their incomes, and with the help of new production tools, they can establish a sustainable and secure partnership with the producers. Producers also offer credit or advanced payments, so the laborers do not have to worry about their demands not being met.

Beyond organic cashew. Fair trade cashew brand

The next time you buy cashews, it is fundamental for you to make sure they are not just some ordinary ones. But, when you purchase fair trade cashews, you will know that you are backing up a family who is in desperate need of their necessities. You can trust a production process with strict economic, social, and environmental standards with fair trade cashews. Such protocol will never make you worry about what you add to your dishes and feed your family and friends.

As previously mentioned, harvesting cashews is a tiresome activity. The laborers go through so many plights to guarantee that we get the perfect type of nut. There is no unprocessed toxin left, detrimental to anyone’s health. It is our duty, as consumers, to make sure we are putting their hard work to good use.

Purchasing fair trade cashews is the perfect way to assure the abolishment of harsh working conditions, child labor and promising an ethical and sustainable environment for these workers. So do some good for the community while jazzing up your dishes and buy yourself some quality cashews.