Blogging for Good

live simply. buy ethically.

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.

June 17, 2014
by morgan
0 comments

Exfoliating Essential Oil Mascobado Sugar Scrub

Alter Eco’s Mascobado Cane Sugar is a versatile ingredient in this season’s Summer Box. This unrefined sugar comes from the Philippines, and is filled with rich nuanced flavors that range from caramel and delicate vanilla, to malty molasses and toasted marshmallows. And because it’s untouched by modern refining processes, each grain possesses all the nutrients and minerals of the Philippines’ raw sugar can.

While this sugar is the perfect sprinkled over ice cream and yogurt, mixed with cinnamon and dusted over toast, or even as a simple syrup for iced tea or cocktails, we’ve found another great use for this special sugar… as a homemade exfoliating sugar scrub!

Sugar scrubs are a natural way to exfoliate skin, without the harshness of salt’s coarse grain that can irritate and cut skin. This recipe for your homemade sugar scrub is quick and easy. Use it for yourself, or as a thoughtful gift for family and friends! We use coconut oil because of the yummy smell, and because it has “a molecular structure that allows it to penetrate skin and hair, both preventing water loss and replacing lipids that deplete with aging… Science says [coconut oil] also accelerates wound healing, can help treat eczema, and has shown to be therapeutic in the treatment of acne.*” Ready to make your own? Here’s how:

Ingredients

- 1 cup Mascobado Cane Sugar

- ½ cup organic coconut oil

- pinch of salt

- Your favorite essential oil (our favorite is lavender or peppermint!)

Process

1. Combine two parts Mascobado Cane Sugar to one part coconut oil. We did 1 cup sugar to ½ cup coconut oil, but you can easily double or triple that, especially if you’re making a large batch to give away! Mix well.**

2. Add 5 drops of your favorite essential oil. Peppermint or Lavender compliment the coconut smell and vanilla flavor of the sugar well.

3. Add a pinch of salt to keep the coconut oil from going rancid.

4. Pour scrub into a lidded glass jar and store in cupboard or shower. Enjoy!

*From Which Naturals are backed by science by Good Magazine

**Coconut oil will harden when cold. If this happens, there’s no need to reheat, just scoop some out and let the heat from your hand melt the coconut oil.

June 3, 2014
by morgan
1 Comment

And our Summer’s Featured Producer is…

The beginning of June means one thing: the start of a new season. The Trade as One Summer season, that is. We’re now shipping our Summer Subscription Box, which means we have the honor of highlighting yet another producer who is doing great things for the world through their Fair Trade products.

And with the temperatures rising what do you want more than an iced cold drink? That’s why we’ve chosen Tea, from The Republic of Tea to be featured in this season’s Trade as One subscription box! Iced Tea is the quintessential Summer Drink. Add it to barbecues and pool days, or lounging around on a nice Summer’s Day. Perfect, right?

The Republic of Tea was founded in 1992 as a revival of tea culture. Their mission ”was—and is—to see these teas steaming in the cups of men, women and children everywhere, and to emphasize a Sip by Sip Rather Than Gulp by Gulp lifestyle.”

We love that. A sip by sip lifestyle where people live simply, buy ethically, and take time to enjoy life’s moments. It’s what Summer– and life– should be about.

In the summer box we’ve included two teas from The Republic of Tea. The first is a Tea sampler— a box of 16 tea packets of three different flavors. We had this box in our Fall 2013 box, and it was so poplar that we brought it back! We’ve also included a Strawberry Vanilla Rooibos canister that is a part of the Room To Read Program, which benefits building libraries and teaching kids to read all around the world.

We love The Republic of Tea not only for their premium Fair Trade tea, but for the heart behind it— providing fare wages and community groups for the tea growers, and using their profits to positively impact learning around the world. All of their teas are great hot or iced, which is why we found their tea to be a perfect match for the Trade as One Summer Box!

May 20, 2014
by morgan
0 comments

Subscriber Snapshot: Mikayla, your not so typical college student

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!

When Mikayla emailed us with the title “happy customer!” and explained how, even amongst college debt and working as a barista, she found subscribing to Trade as One an important and necessary part of her budget, our jaws dropped. How do we tell her story, without making it sound made up? Her story is that perfect.

Here’s a little bit of what she said:

“I just wanted to stop by and say that our box was amazing! This week I have decided to spend 40% of my grocery money purchasing through Trade as One… I am a student attending PSU. My grocery budget is always somewhat frugal. I love that for $99 (a lot for a college student) is a payment I can do every three months instead of every month. I like that I have the option to purchase individual items between boxes, as I did tonight! This way, I can help others around the world even on a college student budget! I’m very happy with this program you have and very appreciative as well!”

Pretty amazing, right? We wanted to learn more about Mikayla, so we reached out! What we learned about her made us love her heart for buying ethically and confirmed that our subscribers are some of the best people out there.

More about Mikayla (yes, it gets better!)

Growing up, Mikayla never quite understood what Fair Trade and buying ethically meant. Not until she moved out and realized how hard grocery shopping can be, that is. Wanting to eat well, Mikayla started researching food and food systems and became passionate about empowering herself with knowledge on more than just what fair trade meant. “I discovered an entire global crisis, and stemming from than, found the significance of buying ethically. What is so shocking is being a part of this planet for 20 years, while living in pure ignorance of such an urgent issue.”  Suddenly, her interest in wanting to eat well while living on her own turned into finding a way for her to be a solution and not a problem to the global food crisis she discovered.

Her motivation to subscribe came with the realization that people all around the globe are fighting for a quality of life that so many take for granted. “The video hit home- our ‘charity’ isn’t enough. These wonderful and skilled people need jobs. We have the power to provide it. That’s my motivation.” Realizing Mikayla has the opportunity to provide even the smallest amount to producers across the globe by purchasing products through Trade as One makes her excited to be a part of an effort where everyone–even college students– has the opportunity to participate.

Freedom Through Subscription

At first, Mikayla was unsure about not being able to pick the subscription products she wanted. Now, she loves it! Explaining “I find this to be the greatest part of the entire subscription. I’m able to try things that I would have never thought to try before, such as the chocolate covered mulberries. I thought mulberries and me didn’t get along— I was wrong.”

After receiving her subscription and reading through the producer stories, Mikayla picked out specific producers whose story touched her heart, and decided to help even more. She ordered rice, snack bars, tea and more. “Here I was, spending my usual grocery money that I would have otherwise spent on the same items from the store. Instead, I used this money to not only purchase food, but also to empower men and women around then globe and ensuring their skill is met with my purchase— providing them jobs and not charity so that they may be able to provide for their families and communities.”

A new perspective and finishing thoughts

“It’s very easy to become inspired and want to help. We are all aware to some extent. Many of us just don’t know how we can help. Trade as one allows me to take action, not just become inspired in a moment of clarity. When you get your first box, it is filled with not just goodies, but stories of where each item comes from. Suddenly, that jasmine rice from AlterEco makes you aware of the typical mass-produced rice we buy off the shelves from large grocery corporations.Try cooking both for dinner. I’ll tell you, you will taste a difference!”

Mikayla’s Recipes!

When asked for her favorite product, she said it was hard to choose just one because with each new box comes more favorites. But a couple items stood out; she even gave some recipe ideas, too! She loved the cashews, and tossed them in GloryBee honey (also in the Spring Box), and coated them in sesame seeds, paprika, and cinnamon. Her next favorite is the Mango and Pinapple jam from Eswatini Kitchen. Just cook and cut up chicken, mix with this jam, and you have your own version of Orange Chicken. But if she had to chose one item that really topped all others, it would be the GloryBee honey. “I always need a good bottle of honey in my pantry. This is the best honey I’ve ever had! Liquid gold and so affordable.”

Like we said, Mikayla is not your typical college student, and we are honored to have her as a subscriber!


May 5, 2014
by morgan
0 comments

Meet the Moms: Alaffia

For the days leading up to Mother’s Day we’ll be highlighting some of the great stories of moms behind our subscription box.  And for two weeks only, Trade as One is offering $20 off our subscription as a Mother’s Day gift that keeps on giving! (Use code LOVEMOMS20 at checkout). It’s a meaningful gift for the person you love most, and it provides a dignified wage so that the women behind the products can be awesome moms, just like yours!

Meet the Moms

Alaffia sees women as the backbone of African society. Without them, it would fall apart, and yet many women in Africa do not receive the respect or dignity they deserve. Alaffia is working to change that.
By using the unique skills of African women to produce an income through production of shea nuts for in lotions, hair care, and lip balm– Alaffia seeks to empower women and work towards gender equality in their homes and communities. In the seven years since Alaffia was created, many of the women in the Alaffia cooperative say they’ve seen a shift in how they’re treated–they feel like they have more of a voice and power in their homes and communities and they are given a sense of freedom from constant worry about whether they can provide for their children, thanks to Alaffia’s fair wages.

 

With the popularity of shea on the rise, many of the region’s shea nuts are being exported and processed in foreign plants. Mechanization and the filtering of shea seen in these plants not only removes a lot of the vital nutrients that makes shea so nourishing (and which makes Alaffia shea so amazing!) but threatens the dignified wages the women in the Alaffia Shea cooperative receive. When you use Alaffia products, you are making a positive impact on the lives of women in Togo, West Africa and their children. Not only are the fair wages enough for the women to provide for their families, but Alaffia invests their profit back into the communities. They provide maternal care for the women through education and clinics, and they provide bikes for children, in hopes that it will help keep them in school. It’s a positive circle that keeps on giving!
To learn more about Alaffia, watch this video
Or, see all our Alaffia products here

April 28, 2014
by morgan
0 comments

Meet the Moms: Women’s Bean Project

For the days leading up to Mother’s Day we’ll be highlighting some of the great stories of moms behind our subscription box.  And for two weeks only, Trade as One is offering $20 off our subscription as a Mother’s Day gift that keeps on giving! (Use code LOVEMOMS20 at checkout). It’s a meaningful gift for the person you love most, and it provides a dignified wage so that the women behind the products can be awesome moms, just like yours!

Meet the Moms

You might know of Women’s Bean Project because of the tasty soups, dips, and cookie and cornbread mixes that show up our seasonal Trade as One box. But for the women behind the products, they know Women’s Bean Project as the place that provides hope for their future and for their children.
Women’s Bean Project, located in Boulder Colorado, is a social enterprise that hires chronically unemployed women. Many of them have a history of drug use and incarceration. What you might not know, is that many of them are also moms, and their main reason for entering the program is so their children will have a better life. One where their children can look up to their mom as a role model and one where they’re living in a home and not a car, all mentioned by program participants in this video here.

This past week several women graduated from the Women’s Bean Project 2014 Program (pictured above with some WBP staff)! Through the Trade as One subscription, you’re helping people like the women above get their lives back on track simply through the food you eat. Women’s Bean Project products are a subscription favorite because not only do they create tasty gourmet food, but they provide job readiness, work skills, and confidence for the women in the program, which are essential skills for when they graduate!

Learn more about our subscription here (remember to use coupon code LOVEMOMS20 at checkout)

Learn more about Women’s Bean Project in this Tedx Talk on Redefining Unemployable.