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Archive for the ‘Literature and Films’ Category

Eating Organic in Today’s Economy

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Everybody knows it: our economy today looks a little shaky, with 700 point drops or increases shocking financial analysts almost daily.  But, regardless of the state of the U.S. economy, eating high-quality organic foods doesn’t have to break the bank.   An interesting article was posted by cook and  blogger Kristen Suzanne on 14 tips for buying organic foods in our tough economy.  Though we might differ on how we sometimes source our organic foods (Safeway doesn’t really represent transparency in their supply chain, and definitely doesn’t have personal relationships with farms), we do agree it’s important to maximize the quality of your organic and gourmet products for the price.

Firstly, if you’ve shopped around for super foods like our cacao, you’ll find that a number of our competitors charge prices nearly double of what we offer in our store.  Why?  It’s simple, they buy from middlemen who import the goods from agricultural markets, and we import our foods directly from farms, paying farmers a fair price and passing the savings on to you.

But that goes not only for our fair trade cacao products, but also for our organic Agave nectar, organically-grown vanilla beans, and organic coffees and teas as well.  We do business that way because it works; for us, for the farms, and for you.

Welcome to Chocolate Country

Monday, October 6th, 2008
Chocolate Country DVD

Chocolate Country DVD


It’s time to talk about movies again, but not just any old movie.  Chocolate Country, a documentary short by Namshub Films, follows the struggles and succeses of our organic cacao cooperative La Red Guaconejo in it’s fight to outdo savvy businessmen and bring its product directly to the shelves of stores like ours for a fair price and the absolute highest quality.  This is a huge accomplishment for the cooperative, as I’ve never seen a film so successfully illuminate not only the struggles of cacao farmers to break the “old boys network” status quo, but also demonstrating the natural beauty of the landscapes and lifestyle inherent to organic farming in the Dominican Republic.

I found out about the film several months back while talking about our store’s cacao project with a fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and after talking with the film’s producer Robin, I saw a screening and couldn’t wait for the October due date for the release of the film.  DVD copies are available now through their website, but currently only for non-profits looking to show the film publicly.  Hopefully copies will be available soon for us foodies to buy, as it really creates that terroir connection so important in preparing the highest quality foods containing cocoa powder and cacao beans.

You can watch a 2 minute-long trailer of the film by clicking here.

The King of Foods

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

Several weeks back I jaunted over to our local public library to pillage the publically-funded DVD collection with little in mind, and even less else to do.  After browsing through the unmanageable labirynth of alphabetically arranged titles, I moved to the tried and true documentary section to see just what interesting topics awaited me on my continuous quest to figure out our world this weekend.

Luckily, I stumbled upon an interesting title and (because we have tendancies to judge the proverbial book by its cover) rented it on sheer impulse: King Corn.  

This documentary explored a number of impacts corn has throughout our society from diet and culture, to governmental control on the commodity and how a landmark decision from former Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz to purposefully over-produce the crop has led to a total immersion of corn-based products in our food.  Corn-fed beef saturates our supermarkets and is actually less healthy for cows than their normal grass/wheat diet, and in turn, unhealthy for those consuming their meat.  Corn syrups, are found in almost EVERYTHING as a sweetener, and add a high number of empty calories to the foods and syrups they sweeten.  We chose to sell Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Flavored Syrups in our store for that very reason.  Sonoma uses pure cane sugar as a base and not high fructose corn syrups like almost all of their competitors like Torini, Monin, and Routin.  Corn syrup definitely isn’t better tasting or good for you (it actually is a pretty nasty concoction requiring sulfuric acid among other chemicals to process it), it’s just cheaper to use because we produce so much corn, which the U.S. government pays farmers to do ($9.4 billion dollar a year in government checks to corn farmers).

It was a pretty interesting investigation, the two boys buy an acre of land in Iowa and farm it in corn, showing the whole process of growing, harvesting, and selling the crop along with their experiences in a small-town in the midwest, just farming.  You can watch the film’s trailer here.