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Posts tagged ‘sustainable farming’

3 Chocolates Making a Difference!

3 Chocolates Making a Difference


When we think of decadent indulgence, we often think of chocolate.  And  with the antioxidants present in dark chocolate, this indulgence (in moderation,  of course) has some health benefits, as well.  But there is a growing trend  in the world of chocolate towards offering products that are socially and  environmentally responsible, as well.  Below are three chocolate companies  that promote fair  trade practices and use organic  ingredients.  All products are available at most Whole Foods locations, as  well as online and at many independent health food stores.

Theo Chocolate

Seattle based Theo  Chocolate was the first producer of organic chocolate in the United States.   Prior to the company’s launch in 2006, all organic chocolate available in  the U.S. was imported, primarily from Europe. Theo prioritizes fair trade  practices, and purchases its cocoa directly from farmers and farmer  co-operatives.  The company also strives to maintain long-term  relationships with farmers, in order to support the economic health of the  communities in which the farmers live and work.  And the ingredients for  the chocolate bars are cultivated using sustainable farming practices.

Theo uses only simple, natural ingredients.  The chocolate doesn’t  contain emulsifiers like soy lecithin, which many chocolate companies use to add  artificial creaminess to their products.  The result is a bar with an  intense cocoa flavor – perfect for the chocolate purist.

Equal Exchange Chocolate

Equal Exchange is a  Massachusetts company that offers a range of fair trade, organic products  including chocolate bars, coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, olive oil, and  almonds.  The cocoa is sourced from farmer co-operatives in the Dominican  Republic, Panama, Peru, and Ecuador.  Similarly, the sugar comes from  co-operatives in Paraguay.  Even the vanilla, from Madagascar, is fair  trade.

In addition to being organic and ethically sourced, Equal Exchange bars cater  to the chocolate connoisseur.  They are produced using the same methods  made famous by the Swiss, resulting in a gourmet bar that will win over the  toughest chocolate snobs.

Alter Eco Chocolate

Like Equal Exchange, San Francisco based Alter  Eco offers a variety of fair trade, organic products.  Alter Eco works  exclusively with small-scale farmers to ensure equitable trading  relationships.

The company works with chocolatiers in Switzerland, but with flavors like  dark quinoa chocolate, its bars are sure to appeal to the health nut as much as  the chocoholic.

By Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from  Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political  Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of  publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary  Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

Healthier Food For the New Year

Healthier Food For the New Year

Healthier Food For the New Year

As I have written about before, the simplest way to support a healthy food system is to eat food grown by sustainable farmers or growers. This means buying from them and supporting them to keep them in business.

Sustainable farming not only improves an individual’s health, but also the health of our planet and even the economic health of a local community. What exactly is sustainable agriculture?

A simple definition comes from one of the preeminent organizations in the field, the University of California’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

“Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals–environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.” For them, this means meeting the needs of the present without comprising the needs of future generations and stewardship of natural and human resources.

A great place to start is to think about what foods are in season, and where certain foods are grown. Whenever possible, eat seasonally and locally, like our ancestors did, by eating fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season in your area or region. Locally grown, seasonal food doesn’t have to be transported as far as nationally or internationally grown food, so it cuts down on gas emissions, especially food that is transported by air, which releases tons of global warming emissions.

A great place to find out all about seasonal produce is Sustainable Table. They offer a guide that provides information on food miles and local eating from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The great part is that they list every state and seasonal availability. A search on this tool found that even for the state of Wisconsin, where there is no winter produce available, there is produce available from neighboring states such as apples, carrots, lettuces, and more from Iowa and Minnesota.

One of the easiest ways to eat seasonally is to shop at a local farmers’ market. There are over 4,900 farmers’ markets in the United States, and you can find your local farmers’ market via several web sites including the USDA site, or at Local Harvest.

While it might not be possible for everyone to directly buy at a farm or farm stand, or farmers’ market year-round, you can help support a sustainable food system when you shop at your local supermarket. Ask for the kinds of fresh food that you want. Ask where your food is grown, who grew it, and when and how it was grown. Look for “Buy Local” campaigns and signs at your local supermarket, showing that the food was made in your region or state.

For those lucky enough to live in an area with farms and farm trails, go to them and take your children to teach them where their food comes from. Initiate a farm day at your school, or invite a farmer to talk at your school or community organization.

You can also join American Farmland Trust’s “No Farms No Food” campaign and support their work in preserving farmland and local food.

by Judi Gerber
Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.

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