Jali Fruit Co. Is a Delicious Snack That Empowers Women–Here's How
When I dig into a tasty snack, I admit that I don't spend as much time thinking about where it comes from as I should.
Ethically sourced foods can make a huge positive impact on the planet, as well as in the lives of individuals—and when I do take the time to know that what I'm eating comes from a good place, it seems to taste better, too.
Jali Fruit Co. is one such company that aims to empower women as well as provide a delicious and nutritious snack in the form of dried fruit. When the team behind the brand reached out to me and asked me if I'd be interested in trying their three varieties, I was as curious about the message behind the company as I was about how they might taste. In the end, they impressed me on both fronts.
Jali Fruit Co. is more than just a sun-dried fruit brand. For one, they lift up rural farmers in 40 cooperatives throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and the tCaribbean. Two thirds of their farmers are women, and their fruit is harvested in areas where the local daily wage is just $2. Jali pays them $15 a day to help them create economic freedom for themselves and their families.
The company provides them machines that work without any electricity, as well as farming and agriculture training to each them how to make the most of the fruit that grows on their ancestral lands. While most of this fruit would have otherwise fallen to the ground, much of it is instead wild-harvested, and then sun-preserved to make it last.
The result is a super tasty (and healthy) treat with no added sugar or preservatives, and lots of calcium, potassium and vitamins. Each bag also has a QR code label that allows you to trace the fruit to its source, so you can learn about the farmers as well as their customs and routines. It's called Jali after West African musical storytellers who pass stories from one generation to the next, because Jali tells the stories of the women who make each bag possible.
Jali Fruit Co. comes in 3.5 oz. bags, and three-pack boxes start at $16, while five-packs cost $24 and 10-packs sell for $44.
I've eaten a lot of dried mango in my time, but the majority of it has been sweetened beyond recognition as mango. Jali Fruit Co.'s is something completely different. With absolutely nothing added, the true fruit of the mango can come out—and because they're made with real fruit, each piece can vary in flavor. Some were more tart, and some were sweeter with an almost apple-like taste, but each one let the earthy, mellow flavor of the mango show through, rather than pure sugar. The texture was a little tough, but real, and mango is naturally an awesome source of potassium and Vitamin C. I also liked hearing that these mangoes were harvested from the Huruma Farming Collective in Kenya after scanning the bag, bringing me a little closer to the incredible women who picked that fruit.
Once I opened the bag of Party Pineapple, it didn't last last for long at all because they were so craveable. The pieces were firm, yet soft and juicy despite being dried. The combination of sour and sweet, and the subtle difference between each piece, made for the perfect tropical flavor combination, and I couldn't keep my family's hands out. Pineapple also provides a nice dose of calcium, iron, potassium and Vitamin C. My pineapple came from the Kangulamira Area Cooperative Enterprises in Uganda, near the Nile River.
Last but not least, it was time to try the jackfruit, which was the flavor that intrigued me most. A lot of people these days know jackfruit not in its natural, sweet form as fruit, but for how it's used in vegan recipes as a substitute for meat. While I think it actually works quite well in those recipes, it's just as good naturally. The flavor is a little like banana but more potent, and it doesn't take much to satisfy a sweet tooth. A quick scan revealed it was from the same cooperative as the pineapple I had. They grow delicious fruit—and I'd be up for trying whatever else they have to offer, too.
If you're trying to be conscious about buying foods that are sustainable and really help people who need it, Jali Fruit. Co. is a must-try. They have awesome practices that give farmers the chance to change their lives, and the dried fruit is truly delicious, too. While the prices are a little bit higher than you might pay for dried fruit online, we find they're actually similar to the prices at our local specialty stores—and the fact that you know who your money benefits is a plus. If you like dried fruit and empowering women, you can't go wrong with Jali Fruit.
Curious about jackfruit? Click HERE for our favorite creative ways to use jackfruit in recipes.