Real Fair Trade, From Farm To Finish
Who They Are
Butterflies fluttering, soft, springy soil, fresh air and a rush of energy. This is the feeling Bená Burda had the first time she stepped onto an organic farm. Deciding between attending business school and joining the work-force, Bená visited a small kidney bean farm to meet the workers, hear their stories, and connect with nature. After just one day onsite, Bená was so inspired that she immediately started work at an organic food company and never looked back. From kidney beans to corn chips, Bená has been a leader in the organic food space before national organic law or certification was even a concept.
On a particular trip to a supplier farm, Bená was listening to a farmer explain how growing organic cotton in a field nearby could help improve the quality of blue corn crops they were using in their food products. Thinking it was merely a solution to a supply chain issue, Bená agreed to try it out and the farmer began growing the organic cotton. That year, the farmer was able to harvest a yield from the crop and asked Bená if she could sell it. She got to researching the current alternative, conventional cotton, and was astonished at what she learned; not only is conventional cotton is the 2nd most pesticide-laden crop in the world but if you look at the total cultivated land in the world, cotton is grown on 3-5% but uses 10% of the earth’s pesticides and 25% of the earth’s insecticides each year! At this point, organic cotton had never been explored before in the apparel industry and Bená decided to take on the challenge. In 1992, Maggie’s Organics was born and their mission to convert as many acres of cotton from conventional to organic began.
From making socks for natural food co-ops to working with Ben & Jerry’s and the band Phish to make concert shirts, Bená grew the Maggie’s brand and the popularity of organic cotton apparel. As she dug deeper into production in the apparel supply chain, Bená also learned that ‘there is no such thing as environmental sustainability without social responsibility.’ The workers downstream need to have a personal investment and sense of fulfillment from their jobs and so, Maggie’s helped to form a number of 100% worker-owned cooperatives in Nicaragua and the US. In May 2002, Bená was recognized by the Organic Trade Association with the prestigious "Special Pioneer Award", and in 2004, she was voted one of the "25 People who Most Influenced the Organics Industry".
Over the years, Maggie’s Organics' product assortment has expanded into socks, leggings, and other apparel items. But with over 25 years in business, their mission has remained the same; to increase organic farming, support textile workers, and create radical transparency in their supply chain, all in the name of providing Real Fair Trade, from Farm to Finish. Buying Maggie’s Organic products are a no-brainer way to support and invest in people and the planet. And by the way, their apparel is really freaking comfortable.
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