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Archive for October, 2008

Does Fair Trade Mean Environmentally Sustainable?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Almost every morning my wake-up ritual is the same. I reluctantly rise out of bed, make the concious decision to bypass the snooze option on my alarm, fumble for my glasses and make a bee-line to the percolator to brew up a life-saving dose of our Cafe Ribera organic coffee (which still amazes me by it’s subtle cocoa flavor, how does that squeeze in there?). Then, I check my email and browse my favorite websites for news and events.

A staple of my morning peruse is Slate is an internet news hybrid of my two favorite traditional news sources National Public Radio, and the Washington Post. Today, the weekly environmental column “The Green Lantern” examined the environmental sustainability claim of the Fair Trade Certification program in it’s article Is Fair Trade Green?

The article thoroughly examined the actual requirements for fair trade certification, compared to what most consumers see as the implications of such a certification. It also does a good job of showing which types of products should be bought locally here in the U.S. instead of having them air freighted in from far off places, increasing their carbon footprint. If you’re shopping for “fair trade” products, kudos to you! You are a socially responsible consumer and should be applauded. You should also know what to look out for in your quest to become a truly sustainable consumer.

Fair trade certification really focuses on fair labor practices, not necessarily environmentally sustainable practices. Our Cafe Ribera and Conuco Reserve Fair Trade cocoa and cacao beans are not only fair trade certified, but also USDA certified organic. Fair Trade certification does not require products to be organic, though it endorses the practice. Make sure that your products are also certified organic; only USDA organic certification ensures that the farms practice environmentally sustainable farming techniques in addition to whatever fair labor certification they might have.

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.

Fair Trade Chocolate for Halloween

Friday, October 17th, 2008
The Fair Trade Logo

The Fair Trade Logo

I came across a news story by the United Methodist News Service about Fair Trade chocolate and they are trying to raise awareness this Halloween, a time when lots of people will eat lots of chocolate. The basic premise of Fair Trade is fairly simple:

  1. Provide access to the market for small scale food producers by purchasing directly from them.
  2. Develop equitable and sustainable partnerships with producers by paying fair markets prices for their goods and reinvesting in their communities.
  3. Raise awareness among consumers and other purchasers about the benefits of Fair Trade (via conferences, newsletters, blogging…)

Eating Fair Trade foods is really not as difficult as one might think. In the past few years, supermarkets and especially smaller, local food coops have put more Fair Trade products on their shelves. However, even if you are not able to stock everything you eat with Fair Trade certified goods, you can still probably find most of your staple foods with the Fair Trade logo. Items such as sugar, coffee, cocoa, tea, fruits, honey, etc. are widely available at any decent food coop.

If you would like to learn more about the Fair Trade movement, check out The Fair Trade Foundation and The International Fair Trade Organization for ways to get involved. Also, take a look at our Organic, Fair Trade Cocoa Powder and Cacao Beans for two of International Organics most popular Fair Trade products.