Blogging for Good

live simply. buy ethically.

October 20, 2014
by morgan
1 Comment

The poor want jobs + a Fall Box giveaway!

Did you know many farmers and food producers aren’t paid enough for their work to feed themselves and their families? Imagine working your whole life farming a food staple such as rice, while still returning home from the fields every day hungry.
It’s a reality that much of the world faces, especially in small faming communities. This is why we see Fair Trade food as a viable solution to bring people out of poverty. The poor don’t want handouts, they want jobs. Jobs that provide a fair wage so they can do everything we expect to do with our wages, like provide food, shelter, education, and medical care for our families– all of which Fair Trade premiums provide.

Meet Phakphum, and Alter Eco rice farmer

A great example of a Trade as One producer who is leading the way in community development and sustainable farming in traditionally impoverished areas is Alter Eco. Their cooperatives span from Bolivia to Thailand, and we’re proud to include their Ruby Red Rice and Rainbow Quinoa in this season’s subscription box!

Their Surin Cooperative is in Thailand, several hours away from the loud noises and fast paced lifestyle of Bangkok, Thailand’s largest city. Here in Surin, the majority of people are farmers, like Phakphum. He grew up in Thailand’s  northeast region, where he has been working in his family’s field since he was seven years old. When he was 13, he dropped out of school to help his single mother with farm work. The family used to struggle greatly with the financial imbalance of conventional rice farming practices, making a meager profit after extensive fertilizer, labor and herbicide costs to maintain yield of the depleted soil.

Now Phakphum no longer worries about losing his ancestor’s land because he, his sister Sohm Rien, and his mother Coo-eye represent one of the 7,500 families currently selling organic Fair Trade rice through a farmer cooperative. The Fair Trade price has allowed Phakphum to make the three-year transition to organic farming. Subsequently, his pesticide related respiratory illness has subsided, and the health of his fields have improved. He has not only been able to pay of debts he incurred under conventional trade, but also has invested in more land and buffaloes.

Phakphum is the leader of his village committee through which farmers annually set the rice price and enforce organic standards. This cooperative structure also gives Phakphum and his neighbors yearly dividends and a community savings fund.

Most important to Phakphum has been the return of his dignity. As he looks out over a golden rice field he says, “I like to be self-reliant. Rely on my two hands and my head. It’s safe for my life and other people’s lives.”

Ready for the Giveaway?

Not only is October Fair Trade Month, but we’ve just passed 10,000 Facebook fans! We figured it’s only appropriate to celebrate this month and milestone by sharing a Trade as One Fall subscription box with you, so you can experience the delicious flavors of Fair Trade while knowing each and every farmer behind these products where given a fair wage for their work. Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 8, 2014
by morgan
0 comments

Better than Nutella: Barefoot & Chocolate Spread and a Recipe!

What do you get when you combine chocolate, almonds, sea salt, and then spread it all over anything in sight? It’s called Barefoot & Chocolate’s Chocolate Almond Spread with Sea Salt, and you can find it (and then devour it) in this season’s Trade as One subscription box!

The Story.

Founders Trent and Sasha went looking for a way to do chocolate spreads better. They wanted to craft a spread containing ingredients where everything on the label is recognizable and sourced ethically. After long nights tinkering in their kitchen, with a toddler in tow, they perfected their chocolate spread free of GMO’s, artificial ingredients, and hydrogenated and solvent extracted oils. Pretty great, right?

Why Fair Trade?

What we love about Barefoot & Chocolate– aside from the obvious (their incredible chocolate)– is that sourcing all of their ingredients ethically was a no-brainer. Sasha attributes this to spending her summers in her ancestral village in southern India watching farmers hard at work trying to make an honest living. Combine her desire for ethical ingredients and Trent’s love of culinary creations, and you get a tasty spread that’s organic, fair trade, and is helping farmers around the world earn a living wage.

Where in the world?

All of the products in this Chocolate and Almond Spread with Sea Salt is certified by Fair Trade USA. The cocoa is from West Africa, the Vanilla is from Madagascar, and the cane Sugar is from India. In addition to Fair Trade certified ingredients, the chocolate spread is Non- GMO Project Verified and Vegan.

Ready for the Perfect Parfait? It’s so Easy!

This recipe and photo is from the Barefoot & Chocolate recipe section. See more here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 10-12 Strawberries – sliced

  • ½ cup raspberries

  • ½ cup blueberries

  • 12 oz. Greek yogurt

  • 2-3 tbsp. Barefoot & Chocolate Dark Chocolate Almond Spread

  • ½ cup good quality granola

DIRECTIONS

Layer all the ingredients in small mason jar or glass. Top with a dollop of our chocolate spread.

October 1, 2014
by morgan
0 comments

When Local isn’t an Option, choose Fair Trade

The local food movement is gaining popularity, and with good reason. Globalization has created a world where we don’t know what comes from where, or who makes any of the products we consume. In fact, the World Footprint Network estimates that to meet the current rate of global production, consumption and waste absorption, we need 1.5 earths. Essentially, we’re using more resources than the earth has to give.

This is where the local food movement– a collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies– and the Fair Trade movement become teammates.

The local food movement rebels against massed produced, genetically modified, highly processed foods. These foods are unhealthy, come from unknown sources, and create obscene profits for 10 or so public corporations that control our food supply. Supporters of the local food movement want intimacy with trusted suppliers, to know their stories and to feel part of a movement that is making the world a better place.

We couldn’t agree more, and that’s why the local food movement and the fair trade movement are actually a part of the same movement. Americans cannot “buy local” for coffee, tea, rice, sugar, quinoa, or chocolate that Trade as One provides, and the Fair Trade movement provides the transparency and intimacy in our food supplies that people are looking for.

Take for example our producer, Alter Eco. They work with cooperatives around the world producing various kinds of rice and quinoa, as well as sugar and cocoa– all products that do not grow local in the US. They tell you which cooperatives around the world make their products, and encourage their consumers to connect and read the stories of the farmers behind them. Alter Eco recently received the best B-Corp award for being in the top 10% of all B-Corps for their overall social and environmental impact, and several news agencies–like The Guardian and NPR– are supporters of Alter Eco for those same reasons.

This is just one example of the producers you’ll find in the Trade as One subscription. All of our producers must meet certain social and sustainable criteria for them to be considered for the Trade as One subscription because the ideals that are important to the local food movement– transparency, honesty, non-GMO, and organic foods– are just as important to us. Together, we can create a world where our food is transparent, sustainable, and real.

September 10, 2014
by morgan
0 comments

A Peek Inside the Fall Box: Honey and Rooibos Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

We’re now shipping the Trade as One Fall subscription box! With that means an assortment of four featured products, one new producer, and four new products to Trade as One, all perfectly suited to the time of year where we trade in our flip flops and iced coffees for fall boots and pumpkin lattes.

This Honey and Rooibos Balsamic Vinegar Reduction from Turqle Trading is one of our new products to the Trade as One box. But don’t be fooled, this product has more than just pretty face (and taste). This product is employing and providing fair wages to men and women from South Africa, a country where half of the nation’s youth are unemployed, and where 60% of Black women are unable to find jobs. Lack of income means men and women are unable to provide food and shelter for their families, or education for their children.

Those numbers look something like this:

Pretty scary, right?

Luckily, Turqle Trading is working to change those numbers. They currently employ nearly 500 South Africans, and continually encourage their employees to develop their skills and knowledge through various educational classes such as health care and personal budgeting. These classes enable their employees to better plan for the future of their families and prepare for unexpected expenses. Pretty amazing, right? You can taste this delicious product and much more when you subscribe to Trade as One’s seasonal subscription box! Learn more here.

Ways to use balsamic vinegar reduction:

- drizzle over a Caprese salad (Basil, Tomato, and Mozzarella), or drizzle over grilled peaches.

- Liven up soups, like the Split Peas Soup from Women’s Bean Project included in this season’s box.

- drizzle over slices of avocado and sprinkle with salt

- Drizzle balsamic vinegar reduction and olive oil over a salad for a simple dressing.
- Use to season meat and seafood
- drizzle over roasted vegetables, like Beets or Brussels Sprouts

September 3, 2014
by morgan
3 Comments

And the Fall 2014 Featured Product is…

Cashews! And Almonds. And dried Mango. And dried Pineapple.

…Wait, what?

Yep, that’s right. This season we chose four featured products, not only because they all have incredible stories, but also because it just makes sense. Fruits and nuts. They go together, and are a perfect cozy snack for the Fall season just around the corner. Below is a quick look at all of our featured products!

Cashews. APRAINORES, El Salvador

These cashews have an appealing earthy flavor and smoky aftertaste. Grown using sustainable farming practices such as biodiversity and multi-cropping. These farmers are proudly reclaiming an island where El Salvador’s civil war once raged. After struggling for peasant rights and suffering violent reprisals during the country’s 12 year civil war, they received land through a government land reform program. These 60 farmers now grow exquisite cashews in a protected mangrove sanctuary and are learning how to run a Fair Trade farming co-operative. The full length feature story of these special cashews and the farmers behind them can be found in the Fall Box’s educational pamphlet!

Almonds. Palestine

These almonds are a large, sweet premium variety, rich in vitamin E, and are raw and unsalted. The producers of these almonds, PARC (the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee), is the largest Palestinian nonprofit organization working in rural areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Fair Trade Department at PARC (the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee) works to organize the efforts of agricultural cooperatives of farmers and women to market their food products for export and to improve their social and economic situation. Their overall objective is to help farmers and women obtain fair prices for their products, prices that will ensure a decent life for them. They have helped to form over 30 cooperatives and organizations, improving the lives of thousands of farmers and women.

Dried Mango. Burkina Faso, West Africa

These Fair Trade Organic dried mangoes are coming to your from seventeen different rural cooperatives and associations in the South of Burkina Faso. The benefits of these mangos (aside from being a delicious, healthy snack) are threefold:

The fresh fruit farmers benefit from sales, and the women doing the processing gain from paid employment.  Then, the Fair Trade social premium benefit the whole community through Adult literacy programs, new water sources, bicycles and cereal banks. These are just some examples of how the social premium has been positively used by co-operatives!

Dried Pineapple. Uganda

This Pineapple is made from Smooth Cayenne Pineapple, and has a characteristic zingy sweet flavor. The farmers of this dried Pineapple are popularizing the solar drying method amongst famers, because they believe it is an affordable way to preserve their fruits and add value to them. In addition, solar drying has minimal environmental impact using renewable energy, retaining waste at the point where it is grown and minimizing transport costs by transporting fruit only when it has been dried – and in bulk. The fruits are 100% natural dried fruits, produced without any added preservatives or added sugars.

August 20, 2014
by morgan
1 Comment

Tea for Two with a Garden View

‘Come along inside….We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.’
-The Wind in the Willows

 

 There’s something about tea culture, isn’t there? When we invite a friend over for tea, we doing more than just inviting them into our homes. We’re inviting them into our lives. It’s easy and convenient to keep up with people over social media, but it feels so good—radical in our age of technology— to put down our devices, invite a friend over, and hear directly from them how they are doing. It’s intentional and simple, what could be better?

 

This season’s subscription box is designed around tea. Which can only mean one thing— we had ourselves a tea party! To do so, we visited The Abbey in Santa Cruz, California. This is a place where people in the community gather, and with cool ocean breeze and scenic setting, it was the perfect spot for a cup for tea and some scones.

 

There’s a variety of tea in this season’s box, but chose The Republic of Tea’s Strawberry Vanilla Rooibos. It’s naturally caffeine free, with hints of sweet strawberry and vanilla— a delightful and refreshing cup. But this tea has more than just a pretty face and delightful flavor. A portion of the proceeds from this can of tea is donated to Room to Read, a non profit enhancing literacy across Asia and Africa.

 

Tea would not be complete without scones, would they? These light and fluffy gourmet scones are helping women get back on their feet through Women’s Bean Project in Boulder, Colorado. The Bean— as employers, employees, and lovers of their product affectionately call it— employes women who have faced poverty and chronic unemployment; many have a history of incarceration. The Bean hires them, teaches them job readiness, and helps them look for jobs in the community once they graduate from the program. For these scones, used a heart shaped cookie cutter for some added love.

And don’t forget the mints! These Dragon fruit green tea mints are the perfect end to any tea time. 

 So what are you waiting for? Invite a friend over for some tea and some scones, and see if you can make the world a better place. With products that do so much good for the farmers and producers behind them, how you not?

 Learn more about the Trade as One subscription here.

August 12, 2014
by morgan
0 comments

Sometimes, we Play Favorites

The Trade as One fair trade food subscription is the result of people asking “What can I do to live an ethical life every single day?”

Our answer? Fair Trade food.

Think about it.

You need food to live. But we don’t need to tell you that, it’s innate. So what happens when you combine your innate sense to eat, gather, and build relationships around food, with the deep desire to do good for the world? You get the Trade as One box.

While each and every box comes packed with 12-15 fair trade food products, we’re highlighting some of our favorites from this seasons box— the summer box!— below.

 Green Olives. Canaan Fair Trade.

Aside from Cannan Fair Trade’s inspiring story of promoting Fair Trade and organic farmers in Palestine despite ongoing conflicts, these green olives are perhaps the only organic olives on the market. Almost every other olive on the market is jarred, canned, or packaged with caustic soda which speeds up and halts the fermentation process and softens the olives. Because Canaan Fair Trade jars their olives using the same process that Palestinians have traditionally used for thousands of years, there are no chemicals included in the process.

Suggested use: Use as finger food or in a salad, or in Chicken Tanjine!  You won’t regret it.

 

Mango Chutney. Eswatini Kitchen.

The goal of Eswatini Kitchen when it began in 1991, was to provide a market for local farmers, employ disadvantaged women, and create fun youth projects in AIDS affected Swaziland. They stated in a one room kitchen with five employees. Today, Eswatini Kitchen has grown from a small cottage industry to a thriving business that is enhancing the lives of underprivileged communities by providing a fair and sustainable income for over 300 people in Swaziland, and devoting all its proceeds to the Manzini Youth Care initiatives which support more than 2000 marginalized children and young people in the country. While their chutney is nice and sweet, their story is sweeter.

Suggested Use: Mix with grilled veggies or diced chicken. Or check out these ten ways to use chutney.

 

Grinding Salt. U-kuva iAfrica.

A salt with a unique story. It stared with a traveler, who throughout his many miles collected foods and herb pairings to share with the world. For this specific salt the story goes like this:

At St. Helena Bay– the long ago home of the Khosian people— we woke in a thick coastal fog. It is the fragrance of that fog that is unforgettable— an intoxicatingly fresh blend of sea salt and seaweed, with a distinctive note of green herbs and an anciently earthy undertone…” Sounds magical, right?

Suggested use: Use in place of salt as a table condiment; seaweed is a natural flavor enhancer. Add it to flavor meat, fix, salads, vegetables, rice, couscous, sauces, soups casseroles and eggs… so pretty much anything and everything. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop!

 

Olives, Chutney, and Salt. All packed with flavor, and each making the world a little better. But the products in the Summer Box don’t stop there! To see what else is in this box, check our details page.

July 23, 2014
by morgan
1 Comment

Subscriber Snapshot: Fueling the Russo Family

Welcome to our monthly Subscriber Snapshot, where we highlight some of the amazing subscribers who really “get” everything that Trade as One is about. To learn more about the Trade as One subscription, head to our new website, here!

How it all started

When we heard about Denise and her incredible family of world changers, we knew we wanted to learn more. Not only does she use the Trade as One box to fuel her family on their world changing endeavors, but also as a way to continue teaching her kids about transparency in supply chains, ethical production, and the importance of fair trade.

In 2009 the Russo home and entire town was destroyed in a flood that was Presidentially declared as a FEMA disaster. They lost everything, but through that experience, Denise and her family became keenly aware of their blessings and how important it is to help people in need. Together, they strive to leave this earth a little bit better than when they came. 

Meet the Russo Family

The Russo’s are a world changing family of four. Denise works as a concert producer by trade, and has produced several events with fair trade vendors, while her husband is a celebrity photographer of 20+ years who has traveled to Africa to document celebrity trips, including those by Bono and Oprah Winfrey. Denise also owns her own organization called Thirst Aid Live, which works to raise funds and awareness for the global water crisis and to provide safe drinking water for people who die of thirst every day.
Denise’s daughter, Olivia, started Save the Earth Projects (S.T.E.P.) when she was 10 years old. Her mission is living responsibly locally, raising awareness nationally, and giving globally. One of her main initiatives is to collect gently used shoes which are then sent globally for micro enterprises that help put shoes on the 300 million people that have none. Since 2012, she has collected over 5,500 pairs of shoes! As a passionate young humanitarian, Olivia has been on radio and a featured guest speaker for rotary clubs, chambers, junior leagues and even a keynote speaker for youth conferences for Operation Hope.
Her second initiative, in conjunction with her brother, Vincent, is just starting out but has big goals. Together, they’re hoping to plant community gardens that teach people about how to care for the environment and how to eat healthy. They hope their harvested crop can even go to help local food banks!

Finding out about Trade as One

Denise saw our ad on Facebook, saying “It intrigued me. We already buy fair trade products, I produce events with fair trade vendors that send proceeds to impoverished areas, and we participate in Operation Christmas Child, Samaritans Purse, Heifer International and more.” But after watching our video and reading more on our website, she realized that through consuming fair trade goods, she can do even more to positively impact the world. She subscribed for her whole family, explaining I think it is very important for us to consciously help our global neighbors whenever possible. I also was interested in getting my kids to try new things and to also continue to grow their appreciation for the world and how we are all connected.”

A Solution for Picky Eaters?

Together, the Russo’s cook from the box and get excited to try new things. Denise lets her kids open the box when it arrives every three months, and says because of the Trade as One box, Olivia (a picky eater) now LOVES quinoa. All she had to do was explain how the quinoa on her plate was helping farmers in South America. Because Olivia cares about people and the world, she tried it. It’s now her most favorite Trade as One product!  While Olivia enjoys the quinoa, Vincent said he likes the sweet things like chocolate or dried fruit. And for Denise? She loves the educational pamphlet and especially the coffee. And for a mom that does so much, that’s no surprise!
Together, this family of world changers is fueled by their Trade as One box as they continually work to make this earth a little bit better.

July 17, 2014
by morgan
1 Comment

The Story of Tea

With each season’s subscription box, we highlight one fair trade product and their producer. We tell you the history of the product, the current problems in its production and why it’s important to consume fair trade. And at the end of each booklet we provide recipes for new and delicious ways to use the products in your box. We do this as a way to provide our subscribers with the best and most current information on a movement that is constantly evolving, and as a way for our subscribers to connect the things they consume with why they consume them.

This season, Trade as One is highlighting tea. A few weeks ago we talked about our featured product, Strawberry Vanilla Rooibos tea from the Republic of tea, and how the profits benefit Room to Read, a non-profit dedicated to furthering literacy and gender equality in education throughout Africa and Asia by building libraries, schools, distributing books, and publishing books in local languages. To read more about our featured product, read our blog.

This week, we’re giving a quick snapshot of the longer story of tea found in the Trade as One educational pamphlet in the Summer Subscription box.

The Story of Tea

 The story of Tea began thousands of years ago. Legend has it that tea was discovered in 2737 BC by Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung when some tea leaves accidentally blew into his pot of boiling water. The use of tea began as a medicinal drink during the Shang dynasty, but quickly grew in popularity, spreading throughout East and South Asia, and eventually Europe. The love of tea is so widespread, in fact, that after water, it is the most widely consumed beverage in the world!

Much of the world’s tea is grown in mountainous areas, situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn in mineral rich soil. A huge grower and exporter of tea is India, but the system is fraught with low wages and injustice where parents will sell their children into slavery because they can’t provide for them. According to India’s National Crime Record Bureau, a child goes missing in India every eight minutes, and more than a third are never found. While not every child in that statistic is directly related to poor wages within the tea industry, this data reflects a country whose widespread poverty creates a system where slavery is common, especially among tea pickers.


This story is not unique to India, and there is no easy fix. Through interviews with workers, management, and stakeholders on tea estates, Oxfam studied the issues surrounding tea prices and found a broken system with many problems, including: poor corporate understanding of the local wage setting mechanisms; supplementing wages with in-kind benefits; and the disempowerment of women.

Fair Trade supplier are working hard to address this issue at local and state levels, while providing workers like the woman below* with additional services such as pensions, daycares, community centers and medical facilities. Buying fair trade teas–like the ones featured in the Summer subscription box–benefits the working conditions of the plantation workers, and also puts pressure on tea companies and plantations that are not yet fair trade to move towards that model due to consumer demand.


To read more about this problem, the solutions fair trade tea provides to workers, and how Trade as One’s tea producers (Choice Organics and The Republic of Tea) are addressing this problem, Pick up The Story of Tea in this season’s subscription box!

*Photo credit to The Republic of Tea, who took this great photo while visiting their fair trade tea pickers in India.

July 10, 2014
by morgan
0 comments

The Summer Box goes Camping

It’s Summer time and the livin’s easy. With Summer in full swing it’s time to get in those long awaited road voyages and camping trips in before it’s too late. While camping is a favorite for many, it doesn’t always mean the best food choices. For many it means a combination of hot dogs and marshmallows. But guess what? Camping food doesn’t have to be highly processed and unhealthy. To prove it, we took took this season’s subscription box on a road trip to show you just how we use it.

Winding into the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range sits Pinecrest, California–a sleepy lake town known for its campgrounds. It’s a place to relax around the campfire and at the lake, or even catch a movie under the starts in the lakeside amphitheater. To go along with our camping adventure, we made roasted red bell peppers filled with jasmine rice, roasted garlic, and roasted vegetables and some peach iced tea.  For a more complete meal, add salad or grilled chicken.  And for dessert we made grilled peaches!


Ready to make this yourself? Here’s what you do:

Start a campfire and get it hot (takes about and hour).

Get one large bell pepper, one for each person and remove the stem, and core.  Cut tin foil for each pepper, enough to wrap it completely. Set the pepper on the foil, drizzle olive oil over it, and balsamic if desired. Fold the foil around the pepper, and twist the foil to together at the top. Bury them in the ashes and let sit from 40 minutes to an hour, rotating them once or twice.

Do the same for garlic (minus the balsamic). First remove the outer paper skin of the garlic keeping the head in tact. Slice off the top of the head of garlic exposing each clove. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, and bury in the campfire ashes for about 30 minutes, rotating 15 minutes in.

While your peppers and garlic are cooking, start on the veggies. Purchase one zucchini and yellow squash for every two to three people, depending on the size. Slice lengthwise, and season with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary; lay them on the campfire grill over a flame, turning occasionally until tender.

Then start of the rice. Rinse with cold water and add 1 cup water for every ½ cup rice. Bring both to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, while covered, for 15 minutes. Then bring another pot of water to boil, and turn off heat. Add two or  three tea bags to the pot and let the tea steep, then ice.

Once everything is done, chop the vegetables, and garlic and add to the rice mixture. Fill the roasted red bell peppers with the rice and vegetable mixture.  Enjoy with a cold glass of peach iced tea.

But wait…there’s dessert! Grilled peaches. It’s the perfect amount of sweet and after dinner treat. Pit and slice the peaches. Sprinkle with Alter Eco’s Mascobado Cane Sugar for notes of carmel and vanilla, and cook over the grill for about 10-15 minute. Easy sweet camping treat!

And there you have it! A complete summertime meal with the Summer box. Take this recipe on the road, or feel free to give it a try on a grill at home.