Green Action: Palestinians and Israelis Working for Fair Trade. Green Action works with Palestinian farmers in the Salfit region of the West Bank. They help the farmers organize into cooperatives, improve the quality of the olive oil to export standards, and harvest the olives. Green Action buys the olive oil for distribution in Israel and worldwide. Avi Levi, the director of Green Action, is one of few Israelis (other than settlers and soldiers) who regularly travel in the West Bank.
|Avi Levi, fair trade |
activist, is one of a few civilian Israelis who travel regulary into the West Bank.
|Israeli volunteers |
helping with the olive harvest, a time of celebration and hard work throughout
|Palestinian farmer and member of of the Zaytoun Cooperative Avi helped set up in the Salfit area of the West Bank.|
The SAHA Logo: Very Pretty, but What Does it Mean?Green Action uses the SAHA logo to mark all its products as fair trade. The top row of lettering is Arabic for “Sakha”. (The “k” and “h” are pronounced together, deeper in the throat like you’re about to spit, but softly so you don’t disturb the people around you!) Sakha means Health or Well-being. The middle row of letters is Hebrew and also pronounced “Sakha”. The first and second letter, the “Sa” and “kh” sounds, are the first and second letters of the Hebrew word Sakhar or Trade (as in commerce). The third letter, the “ha” sound, is the first letter of the Hebrew word “Hogen” which means Fair. Put them together, Sakhar Hogen, and you have Fair Trade. The tiny letters at the bottom, “Kol Motzar Hogen” means Every Product is Fairly Traded.
The Taste of Peace Oil Green Action.The olive oil in Peace Oil Green Action is 100% Nabali, the traditional olive cultivar of the Palestinian countryside. This olive has been grown in the region for hundreds of years. It has a unique flowery aroma, a moderate to strong peppery finish, and a “fruity” flavor.
The trees are incredibly hardy and can produce plenty of fruit despite the harsh, dry conditions of the Mediterranean summer. Most farmers use little or no fertilizers or pesticides and irrigation is seldom seen. The fair trade guidelines followed by Green Action, those established by the Palestine Fair Trade Association, do not allow the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
How about the quality? The 2008 harvest was tested at a laboratory in California and the results were excellent. The lab tests for a chemical called “Free Fatty Acid”. When the growing season conditions are not ideal, the olives have not been pressed properly, or the oil has aged under poor conditions, the Free Fatty Acid (FFA) tends to be higher. To qualify as Extra Virgin, European standards require a FFA content of .8% or less. The Green Action 2008 harvest tested at just over .5%.
See Peace Oil in Your Kitchen and on Your Plate for more discussion on the taste of Peace Oil and serving suggestions. (Photo courtesy of David Lytton)
The Label Says It All: Peace Oil Green Action.The new label for Peace Oil Green Action was designed by David Sokal, owner of Olive Branch Enterprises. Olive Branch Enterprises (OBE) imports, bottles and distributes Peace Oil Green Action in the US and Canada.
Artwork for the branch with olives was based on an original illustration by Eva Appenzeller, a very accomplished Swiss designer. Eva graciously offered a trade of two bottles of Peace Oil in exchange for the use of her artwork. See Eva’s portfolio at www.eva-appenzeller.ch.
The bright blue sky reflects the intensity of the Mediterranean summer and the olive oil flavor, while also evoking hope for a better future.
“Palestinians & Israelis Working for Fair Trade” is written under the words “Green Action”. Given the inequality in just about every aspect of relations between the two people, this is a bold statement indeed.
The SAHA logo and the words “Fair Trade” appear below the tip of the olive branch.
To buy Peace Oil Green Action visit the shopping page at www.peaceoil.net.
Man/Woman Cannot Live by Olive Oil Alone.SAHA/Green Action does more then buy olive oil. It helps build communities, preserve traditions and restore balance in unequal relations. Meet some of the other SAHA Community Partners:
SAHA distributes food products of the women of the Community Kitchen. These women met in the “Women Are Cooking Up Business” project that teaches low-income women how to open and run a food business. Why cook for free if you can translate that into a business? A few of the women pooled their assets and now share in the profits made from their collectively managed commercial kitchen. Products include Organic Fruit Jam and Gluten Free Cookies.
Wadi-Fukin (literally “Green Valley”) has been devastated by the occupation. Before the Separation Wall, the men worked on Israeli farms. Now they cannot leave the village. In response, the village women created the Women’s Association of Wadi-Fukin. They provide day care, mutual support and now, a means to make ends meet: pickles! Every woman is able to grow a small amount of produce in their yards. Green Action members discovered this resilient, resourceful group and has helped them improve the production and packaging of their product and set up a viable food business. Soon the pickles will be flying off the shelves.
Hand in Hand, center for Jewish-Arab Education, bridges the gap between the two groups through bilingual and multi-cultural schools. In September 2004, the first Jewish/Arab school was created: Bridge Over the Wadi School located in the Arab village of Kfar Kara. Jewish and Arab parents lobbied the Ministry of Education until they received approval to set up the school bringing Jewish and Arab children from all over the Wadi Ara region together in unsegregated classrooms. The school has received support from a range of contributors including a private group of Arab and Jewish mothers, grandmothers and aunts who raise funds by making and selling reusable bags. Their love of the environment and their faith that we are all part of a human tapestry is reflected in each unique, hand-sewn bag. When Green Action joined forces with them, a SAHA design was made. Now SAHA sells the bags individually or as a container for gift packages of other SAHA products. All the profits go to the Bridge Over the Wadi School.
The World Watches as Fair Trade Grows in Israel PalestineGreen Action and the SAHA line of fair trade goods have gotten their fair share of attention on the Internet. There’s the very impressive photographic essay done by accomplished photographer Yasmine Soiffer simply titled “Harvest”. Yasmine participated as a Green Action volunteer helping with the winter olive harvest in 2008 when she took these photographs, some of the best depictions of the Palestinian olive harvest that you’ll ever see.
Green Action was covered in Ha’aretz, one of Israel’s largest newspapers. This extensive article was written in August 2007. Ha’aretz also did a very visual coverage of the SAHA product line in a full-color, full-page spread in May 2008.
A full list of press coverage can be found on their website. Here are the best links:
Change.org, Faces of Fair Trade: Action in the Holy Land, Jan. 7, 2009
Treehugger, In Israel a Little Oil Goes a Long Way, 2006
Make Trade Fair, Israel & Palestinian Territories, undated