Think About the Farmers: A New Way of Looking at Essential Oils

I was shopping at Whole Foods the other day and thought about how they promote awareness of animal welfare when selling their meats. Consumers are looking to see if livestock are getting the proper food or shelter. If we care about the livestock, shouldn’t we also care about the farmers? Technology has made farming efficient over the years and it can be easy to overlook some of the conditions of the farmers. Although slavery was abolished over 100 years ago United States, workers around the world are paid slave wages, wages that are erratic and barely cover the basic necessities of life. This is especially true in the essential oil and perfume industry because many essential oils are grown in developing countries. I was shocked to learn of common business practices in the perfume and essential oil industries. Because many of the growers and workers are in remote locations, they are unable to market their crops or goods directly. Middle men [caption id="attachment_878" align="alignright" width="300"]Pictured: A woman gathers Ylang Ylang for essential oil distillation. Pictured: A woman gathers Ylang Ylang for essential oil distillation.[/caption] and brokers take a bulk of the earnings, while the growers and harvesters do majority of the work. I learned about a village in Guatemala that harvested cardamom. They were hours away from the nearest distillery and had no large commercial vehicles to transport the material. Instead, someone visits the village and offers the lowest price possible because of the village’s geographic disadvantage. What’s worse? Oftentimes, the villagers aren’t paid upfront and are promised money after the cardamom is distilled and purchased by the buyer. With very little options and need for income, villagers agree. Sometimes, those promises aren’t kept and villagers are paid even less than negotiated. That is the price farmer’s pay for competitive pricing in the essential oil and perfume industry. Middlemen take a bulk of the earnings, while farmers suffer and are stuck in the perpetual cycle of poverty. Does your purchase of essential oils perpetuate this cycle? Almost all essential oil companies deal with middle men and brokers. Unless you buy from a company that deals directly with the growers, there’s a high chance that you are essentially supporting slave labor. [caption id="attachment_874" align="alignleft" width="229"]Co-Impact Sourcing doTERRA is a socially responsible company, deals directly with the growers, pays generous wages, and gives back to the communities.[/caption] I am relieved to find out that the company I buy essential oils from not only pays growers directly, but they pay the growers 5-7 times more than what they normally would get paid. By going through brokers, in addition to exploiting farmers, you may also sacrifice quality of essential oils. Poor working conditions and erratic pay affects the quality of essential oils. As you can imagine, if brokers do not pay farmers until they harvest the plant or after, farmers harvest the crops prematurely. This ultimately affects the quality of the end product. This was happening with vetiver essential oil in Haiti. The company I purchase vetiver essential oil from sets up a pay schedule so that growers are paid year round. Besides pay, we must also look at the living and working conditions of the communities that grow and harvest oils.  Many of these communities have limited access to running water, education, and sometimes adequate shelter. If we care enough about the products, we should care enough about the people who steward them. This is the top reason I choose doTERRA essential oils. doTERRA provides a better life for the communities that supply the essential oils. As we continue to teach about the wonderful benefits of essential oils around the world, demand continues to rise. As demand rises, we can help more communities get out of poverty. doTERRA is the largest essential oil company and has impacted growers around the world more than any other single essential oil company. I am proud to be a doTERRA Wellness Advocate.

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