Our favorite olive oil company is having a sale, and we wanted to make sure you knew about it.   Their products are all super yummy.  Certified organic and fair trade, their olive oil is some of the best out there.

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Right now, their infused oils are 50% off as they clear out space for new flavors.  Our favorites are the garlic and pepper infused oils, but you won’t be disappointed in whatever you buy. 

While Canaan Fair Trade is our olive oil vendor, we have no financial benefit from promoting them.  We just truly love their products- and we think that you will, too!

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This is a re-post from several years ago.  With Halloween coming up, I wanted to re-visit child slavery in the chocolate supply chain.  It remains to be a problem.  It is possible to get slave-free chocolate by either buying organic or fair trade chocolate.  Equal Exchange makes yummy trick-or-treat chocolate that you can purchase here.  Or, just don’t buy chocolate.  With that, I hope you find this article helpful.  I also recommend The Dark Side of Chocolate, which you can watch here. 

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I’ve been putting this post off for a long time.  Truthfully, it’s a bit overwhelming.  The subject matter is overwhelming, as is the amount of information that is available.  So, instead of writing a dissertation (I know you’ll thank me), I decided to give you just the information that you need to make better purchasing choices.

It’s horrific.  The whole thing.  Chocolate is one of the dirtiest foods that we consume in terms of human cost.

Forty-three percent of the chocolate on the open market is touched by child slavery.  Ivory Coast is known for its chocolate.  It’s a heavy producer, and the cocoa beans are known for being very high quality.  Sadly, many children are trafficked to Ivory Coast (often from Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso and  Togo) and then kept as slaves picking and processing cocoa beans.  According to Wikipedia, they are lured by promises of  “paid work, housing and education”.  I don’t want to inundate you with horrific stories just for the shock value.  I’ll just mention a few key facts.  Children (mostly aged 12-16)  are forced to work up to 100 hour weeks.  When they don’t work hard enough, they are beaten.  To quote one child, “the beatings were a part of my life”.  Children as young as 11 years old are forced to carry heavy bags of cocoa beans, often resulting in sores all over their shoulders.  I’ve read several different sources that stated that there were more than 15,000 child slaves in Ivory Coast working in cocoa  production.  Another common statistic that I’ve read is that there are 200,000 child laborers in Ivory Coast.

According to Wikipedia, “the major chocolate producers such as Nestle buy cocoa at commodities exchanges where Ivorian cocoa is mixed with other cocoa.”  When asked about slavery in their supply chain, they claim that they can’t control the cocoa beans that come into the commodities market.   My heart pounds when I think about this.  It makes me so angry- because it’s a cop out.  The product that they’re selling is profitable, and they are choosing to look the other way. There was lip service given when many of the chocolate manufacturers signed the Harkin-Engel protocol in 2001, which aimed at ending the worst of the abuses. But, no substantive changes have come to date. Many deadlines have been missed. The industry, as a whole, doesn’t seem to be very serious about implementing the protocol. According to Media Freedom International as of October 2010, Hershey’s “still has no certification system in place whatsoever to ensure that its cocoa isn’t tainted by labor rights abuses”.

What you need to know is that it is possible to get chocolate that is cruelty-free.

The two categories of chocolate that are considered to be slavery-free are Fair Trade and Organic.  According to chocolatework.com, chocolate companies who buy from Fair Trade collectives pay prices that bring a living wage to workers, plus money that goes back to the collective.  Often, the monies that go back to collectives are used for education and/or healthcare.  “Because organic farms are subject to an independent monitoring system that checks labor practices, organic chocolate is also considered slave free”.

This is an area where, as consumers, we can have an impact.  First, we can stop supporting companies that aren’t serious about ending slavery in their supply chains.  Then, we can choose to support companies that are serious about making ethical chocolate.  Organic and Fair Trade chocolates are more expensive, to be sure.  For our family, it’s worth it.  We eat less chocolate.  But, when we eat it, we can be sure that it’s cruelty-free.  In the next few days, I’ll be telling you about two chocolate companies that I recommend.

Image by Kirti Poddar via flickr used under a Creative Commons
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Today is World Orangutan Day!  Frustrated Farmgirl celebrates these amazing primates today.  In fact, these creatures were a key contributor to the creation of Frustrated Farmgirl’s soap recipe.  They are one of the reasons why our soap contains no palm oil.  Here is an excerpt from a  post three years ago when we pushed forward with our palm oil-free soap recipe:

First, it’s destroying the habitat for the Sumatran tiger, Asian rhinoceros and the Sumatran orangutan- all of these animals are endangered. Second, many of the areas that are being leveled to raise oil palms are biodiversity hotspots. Biodiversity hotspots are areas where there is a huge variety of flora and fauna- much greater than in other areas. Third, many of the areas that are being de-forested to plant oil palms are peat bogs. There is a huge amount of carbon sequestered in peat bogs- when these bogs are leveled, it releases a significant amount of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. According to wikipedia, the destruction of peat bogs accounts for 4% of global greenhouse emissions. While palm oil production isn’t at fault for all of this, it is a contributor. Lastly, the land of the the Dayak people of Borneo is being planted with oil palms without their consent and despite their objections.

Today would be a great day to look in your cabinets to identify the products that contain palm oil.  It’s in a wide variety of products from crackers to cookies to cereal.  It’s also in almost all soaps.  The choice of where we spend our food and soap dollars truly does have an impact.  Who knew a bar of soap or a cookie mattered?  Apparently, it does.

It’s sin in a spoon.

We used to buy chocolate ghee from Real Food Bay Area.  We wanted to see if we could make it ourselves, so we tried it this morning.

So, so yummy.  Think of nutella, only better.  It has no hydrogenated anything, and the chocolate is Fair Trade.  The ingredients are incredibly simple.

Organic Butter- 1 c (2 sticks)

Organic Fair Trade Chocolate Chips- 1 c (I used 42% cacao- I think it would be even better with a higher percentage of cacao).

Place the butter in the pan.  Heat it gently.  Little by little, the milk solids will separate from the butter fat.  Skim off the milk solids as they bubble to the top.  Eventually the fat will separate from the milk solids (the white part).

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Measure the chocolate chips into a pan.  When you have the ghee (clarified butter fat) all separated, pour it over the chocolate chips.  Stir as the chocolate chips melt.  You may need to turn on the heat a bit for the chocolate chips to melt completely.  Watch the pan very closely- you don’t want it to burn.

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When the chocolate chips are completely melted and the ghee and chocolate are well mixed, pour the chocolate ghee into a small jar or a ramekin.  Let it harden in the fridge, the cover.  Ghee is very stable in the fridge.  This mix will keep for at least a couple of months.

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Chocolate ghee is super yummy on toast.

Easter is three short weeks away, and I wanted to share some sources of ethical chocolate for Easter baskets.  37-43% of the chocolate that you get from the big chocolate producers such as Hershey and Nestle comes from Ivory Coast, where child slavery is very common.  You can read my longer post about ethical issues with chocolate here.    Here is the Wikipedia article on child slavery in the chocolate trade.  

Today, I want to tell you not so much about the problem, but about some ethical, yummy alternatives.

These cute easter baskets are from Mama Ganache.  They are $39.95, and they include chocolate bunnies, solid eggs, filled eggs, stuffed Easter buddy, and two darling decorated Easter cookies.  All the ingredients are certified organic and Fair Trade.

    

Divine makes very cute little bunnies to stick in your easter basket.  They carry both dark and milk chocolate.  My children loved these last year!  They are 3.5 oz for $6.29.

Then, there are two of my favorites.  Not bunnies, but the yummiest chocolate that I know of.

Tcho makes a darling Easter bunny gift tub.  It includes 50 .25oz bars for $29.95.  Tcho is a San Francisco chocolate company that has the highest standards in both their organic and Fair Trade practices.

Or get Tcho’s Citrus chick cube, which includes 6 .28 oz bars for $6.45

So, there’s nothing bunny about it, but I would be thrilled to get this.  Amazing dark chocolate with little surprises of sea salt.  Decadent. Theo is a wonderful bean-to-bar Fair Trade organic chocolate maker out of Seattle.  So yummy.  A 3 oz. bar is $5.

In closing, I want to quickly pitch the idea that with chocolate, less is more.  For most of us, money is something that we have to consider when buying Easter treats.  Consider buying less chocolate this year so that you can buy ethically.  I miss my Reese’s peanut butter cups more than I can say, but I just can’t eat them knowing that Hershey is looking the other way with child slavery.  Give one of these chocolates a try.

Sowing Gratitude

March 5, 2013

In a little over a week, Charlie and I will be doing a beans and rice lenten fast with our church.   We’ll be doing the Hungry for Change  program from Trade as One.  For five days, we’ll be eating the type and amount (read:  simple and less) of food that 2 billion people eat globally- those living on less than $2 a day.  I’m looking forward to doing this fast in community with others at my church- sort of.  I say sort of because it was hard when we did it last year.  I’m painfully aware of my humanity.  My children both groaned when they found out that we would be doing Hungry for Change again.  Because they know.  When I get hungry, I get grumpy and short-tempered.  When I am hungry, I tire easily and am mentally fuzzy.  So, why?

  • Because scarcity breeds gratitude.
  • Because I want to be in touch with the experience of the world’s poor.
  • Because I want to hear God.
  • Because I want God to change me.
  • Because I want to be used by God.
  • Because I want to understand fasting better than I do.

In closing, I want to share one of the results of our fast last year.  Gratitude.  The fast last year sowed deep gratitude in my heart.  While gratitude is wonderful, I’m praying that my gratitude will push toward change this year.  I’m praying that my feeling of gratitude won’t stop with just being a word and a feeling- but that God would use my gratitude to push toward justice and change.  But, gratitude is a start.  Here is my gratitude chart from last year.  I would love to hear from you if you’ve fasted in the past.  Did it change you in any way?  I’d love to know.

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The New Trade as One

February 27, 2013

I’ve been a fan of Trade as One for a while.  Now, I’m an even bigger fan.  They have a new business model that is moving away from handicrafts and toward consumables.  Why do I love the new business model so much?  In short, it’s less stuff.  We all have things we need.  For most of us, our consumption goes way beyond what we need.  This has implications for the people who produce the goods and it has an environmental impact.  I consume, so I’m not sitting in judgement.  But, it remains that our consumption of stuff has an impact.  With Trade as One’s new model, they are helping consumers to buy ethically produced food and body care products that they would use anyway.  Sugar.  Vanilla.  Chocolate.  Soup Mix.  Check out their new video above.  Also, check out their new Change for Good program, which is a quarterly subscription for Fair Trade consumables.