Episode 96: Mayra and Daniella Velazquez de León, President and CEO and Logistics Manager of Organics Unlimited
The Velazquez de León Family are Pioneers in the Organic Industry.
Mayra and Daniella Velazquez de León are an ultimate mother daughter duo, continuing a rich heritage in the agriculture industry that stretches for four generations. Mayra’s father was the first commercial organic banana grower in the world, before the standards for organic farming were even in place.
In 1974, the goal wasn’t to be “organic” or to make huge profits, but to grow the bananas “wild” and get them to consumers.
This dream has evolved over the last 40 years. Mayra is the President and CEO and Daniella is the Logistics Manager of Organics Unlimited. Founded in 2000, Organics Unlimited is the largest family-operated organic banana company in America and is the world’s top producer of organic bananas. Their supply chain stretches from the West Coast into Canada, and parts of Asia.
Organics Unlimited is committed to providing premium quality organic bananas through a culture of sustainability, caring for communities, and excellent customer service.
“Sustainability is the common thread that unites us all in the world of agriculture.” – Lori Taylor (20:15)
How Organics Unlimited Gives Back.
In 2005, Organics Unlimited began Grow, a program focused on giving back to the growers and growing communities. Historically, the regions where the bananas are grown are underprivileged. Organics Unlimited is working to break the poverty cycle and provide better lives for the workers. For each box of bananas that is purchased, $.60 is donated to the Grow fund. To date, they have contributed over $2.7 million. The funds are managed independently to give accountability and provide transparency, and the main portion of the funds go to scholarship programs to help bolster the education of the communities, and provide a promising future for upcoming generations.
Some Helpful Terms.
When looking at organic produce, it can be helpful to understand a couple of terms that are typically used.
USDA Certified Organic
All Organics Unlimited bananas are labeled with the USDA Certified Organic seal. In order to receive this certification, certifiers visit growing sites each year to test soil, leaves, and fruit. Certified growers are also required to leave a minimal carbon footprint.
While there are designated fair trade certifications, for a company to be considered “fair trade” they must practice ethical business practices and also do their part to give back to the community.
Why Should You Purchase Organic Bananas?
It can often be difficult to determine whether to purchase organic or conventional produce. While more and more individuals are making the switch, it’s helpful to understand the benefits of organic bananas.
People often don’t understand the cost involved when growing and distributing organic bananas. In fact, bananas are often sold at a loss in local grocery stores. Supporting companies, like Organics Unlimited, helps ensure that you are putting high quality produce in your body, and supporting a company that believes in the value of caring for the banana growers.
Organics Unlimited believes in taking care of our environment, stewarding the soil by not polluting it with traditional pesticides. Their farming methods contribute to soil health, increase biodiversity and improve water quality.
Not to mention, the bananas are practically grown in our backyard. Ninety-five percent of Organics Unlimited bananas are grown in Mexico, and the other 5% in Ecuador..
Conventionally grown bananas often spend 2-3 weeks in transport before they reach our shores. Organics Unlimited bananas spend an average of 2-4 days. This means the bananas are fresher, and the carbon footprint is smaller. In fact, Organics Unlimited has the lowest carbon footprint.
The next time you are grabbing a bunch of bananas at your local grocer, think of the growers, the soil the bananas were grown in, and the myriad of individuals who have put in hours of work to get that bunch into your cart. Organics Unlimited is doing their part to pour intentionality into every link in the produce chain, and hopefully one of their bananas, grown with love, makes it into your cart.
How to get involved
- Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
- Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.
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Previous episodes you may enjoy
- Episode 95: Celebrating Earth Day with Janis McIntosh, Director of Marketing, Innovation, and Sustainability at Naturipe Farms
- Episode 94: Important Facts About COVID-19 and the Produce Industry with Ashley Nickle, Retail Editor for The Packer Newspaper and Editor in Chief for PMG
- Episode 93: All About Regenerative Agriculture with Renée Vassilos, The Nature Conservancy
- Episode 92: The Importance of School Meals with Dr. Katie Wilson, Executive Director of the Urban School Food Alliance
- Episode 91: The Future of Farming with Dr. Jenna Bell, Vice President of Nutritional Science for Crop One