It wasn’t lip service when we created The Poplar Promise and committed ourselves to being ethical. It’s come to our attention that there are farmer strikes in India, regarding the three farm acts which were passed by the Parliament in September of this year. Unfortunately, the ongoing protests have turned both violent and deadly. These escalating disputes over agricultural laws have prompted introspection for us. BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) allies such as Shiromani Akali Dal have labeled these reforms as “anti-farmer.” According to Emily Schmall of the New York Times, “Many Indian farmers believe the overhaul [of the way many of the country’s 146 million farms do business] will lead to lower prices and pave the way for corporate takeovers of their small farms, which average less than three acres in size.”
It’s no secret that ashwagandha, turmeric, and cardamom can all be grown, cultivated, and harvested in India. These essential ayurvedic and natural ingredients can be found amongst our product offerings here at Poplar. As we mentioned in our catalog, Essential, it is not enough to just benefit from a culture, it is fundamental to also respect it and its people.
We are not on anyone's “side.” However, we are never against the interests of small and marginal farmers. Because we value diversity, equity and fairness, we unequivocally believe that each human being is entitled to a living wage and the freedom and autonomy to grow. We are approaching this sensitive situation with a level of mindfulness and empathy. While we cannot confirm what the future holds, rest assured that undermining local people in order to maximize corporate profit is the antithesis of what our organization stands for.
We agree with Wendell Berry when he said, “eating is an agricultural act.”
What we consume, whether it’s through our pores with skincare or with our mouths when we eat, often started as a seed. Ultimately, everything we eat, use, and rely on often came from the ground. As an organization, we are trying to build a model of sustainability and environmental respect from the ground up and give reverence to people in all walks of life. Irrespective of what laws are passing, we always pay over the asking price for the high-quality ingredients that we source and show the utmost respect for the farms that allow our marketplace and suppliers to thrive.
We will continue to observe the situation abroad and inform you if measures have to be taken to uphold our promises of ethicality and environmental responsibility in regard to our suppliers.
B & B.