Loving Ben And Jerry’s Almost As Much As My Own Creations

Ben and Jerry’s recently took a bold step in declaring their switch to be fully fair trade by the end of 2013. They’ve long used fair trade coffee chocolate in some of their yummy flavors (think Smooth Chocolate and Coffee Heath Bar Crunch) but now they’ve set their own bar even higher. Over the next few years the company will source all ingredients available Fair Trade Certified to be just that. They’ll be using fair trade bananas, sugar, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, nuts and other flavorings, adding new fair trade ingredients as the fair trade marketplace grows and new products become available. Wow! I have not heard of any other ice cream company making such a move. Ben and Jerry’s switch will influence over 27,000 farmers, according to a press release on their site. Impressive.

While we’re on the subject of ice cream, I wanted to let all you do-it-yourselfers in on my latest ice cream discovery. I received an ice cream maker from my husband for Christmas and let’s just say it’s a well-loved addition to our household. Our absolute favorite flavor is Chocolate Chocolate Chip made with Sunspire’s fair trade chocolate chips. A quart of this good stuff lasts about as long as it takes to inhale.  Warning: This is not a health food. Here’s my recipe:

Fair Trade Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

2 1/4 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons fair trade cocoa powder
1/4 cup fair trade sugar
Pinch of salt
6 ounces Sunspire fair trade semisweet chocolate chips (about 2/3 of a bag)
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon fair trade vanilla extract

Whisk together the cream, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk frequently until it begins to foam and boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips, stirring constantly. You want the chocolate chips to melt most of the way but still leave some small chunks at the bottom of the pan.  Once the chocolate is mostly melted (no big chunks coming up when you stir)  add the remaining milk and vanilla. Chill in the fridge until cold all the way through (at least 2-3 hours), then freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Then enjoy a divine chocolate experience!

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments

By the way, Sunspire chocolate chips are super expensive compared to regular old Nestle. Most grocery stores around here that carry them (Whole Foods, New Seasons) charge anywhere from $5.50-$6 per bag. That makes for a pretty expensive quart of ice cream or batch of chocolate-chip cookies, unless you do what I do. Sunspire has lately had a $3 off $10 on every bag of chocolate chips. I wait until they go on sale, usually for around $4.50/ bag, then stock up buying 6 or so bags at a time. With the coupon that makes them about $3.50 per bag. Still more than a cheap brand of chocolate chips but much closer, plus the Sunspire flavor does not compare to Nestle (which tastes like it contains more wax than chocolate).

Happy Fair Trade Month!

fair_trade_logoOctober is officially Fair Trade Month, as declared by people who get to make such declarations.  Actually the people with such power are all at Transfair USA, the fabulous organization behind certifying all kinds of fair-trade goodies from coffee to rice to tea and bananas. Throughout this month Transfair is promoting “31 Days, 31 Ways,” highlighting a different way to support fair trade each day of the month. Here are a few ways you can get involved with Fair Trade Month!

  1. Follow along with Transfair’s “31 Days, 31 Ways” campaign on Facebook, Twitter or the Fair Trade Month website.
  2. Try a fair trade product you haven’t tried before. If you’re already using the basics (chocolate, coffee, etc) why not pick up some fair trade rice or get a fair trade soccer ball to kick around this fall?
  3. Sign up for Reverse Trick-or-Treating. You get free fair-trade chocolates and literature for your kids to hand out as they go door -to-door this Halloween. It’s a great way to promote fair trade in your community and what neighbor won’t be thrilled to get some free chocolate in return? The deadline to request your kit is TODAY so don’t dawdle.
  4. If you miss the Reverse Trick-or-Treat deadline you can still promote fair trade this Halloween by handing out fair trade chocolate treats to kids who come to your door. Natural food stores like Whole Foods have a few options for fair trade Halloween treats.
  5. Of course I have to put in a plug for Bambootique too.  My Holiday Fair Trade Trunk Show falls just a few weeks after Fair Trade Month ends, November 14 and 15th. If you’re so lucky as to live in the Portland area be sure to mark these dates on your calendar. Invites will be out soon. If you’re out of the area don’t fret, just watch your inbox for some great coupons for online holiday shopping coming up in a few weeks (and if you’re not on the Bambootique email list sign up here).

Anyone have any other plans/ ideas for Fair Trade Month? Do share here. Feel free to post events, sales, ideas, etc.

Plan Now For Reverse Trick-Or-Treating

trick_or_treatWhile poking around online today, I just noticed it’s time to order Reverse Trick-or-Treating kits from Global Exchange.  Last year our household managed to order on time (this year’s deadline is October 13th, but if they run out before then it’s your bad luck) and had fun giving away the fair trade chocolates and info cards to our neighbors.  This year we’ll do it again but I’ve realized I don’t need to be limited to the “reverse” idea. I mean, I don’t have to just have Grace hand out the cards and chocolate as we go door to door. We’ll also give out the fair trade info and chocolates to all the kids that come to our house, getting the word out even further.

What is Reverse-Trick-Or-Treating, you ask?  It’s a fantastic campaign put together by a variety of fair trade groups to get the word out about unethical practices in the cocoa trade. For just $5.50 (the cost of shipping the kit to you), you get a bag of mini-chocolates and a stack of informational postcards about the cocoa industry and the alternative fair trade chocolate industry. The “reverse” idea is that your kids give the cards and chocolates out as they go door to door, while of course still receiving the free goodies (fair trade or not) from all the neighbors. Our neighbors loved getting something in return plus hey, it encourages the trick-or-treaters to give not just get. See more of what our family did last year here.

I just ordered my kit and can’t wait to shower our neighborhood with fair trade chocolate love.

It’s Zucchini Season. Don’t Make Eye-Contact With Your Neighbor.

I read that quip on a local lumberyard sign a few years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. Zucchini season is a time when enthusiastic gardeners want to throw in the towel, er, zucchini they’re so overrun with those cute little green squashes.  Well relax one and all as I have found a delicious zucchini bread recipe that won’t make you groan and roll your eyes. It’s got chocolate in it, people. You can eat it for breakfast or dessert and still feel good about getting your vegetables.  The recipe uses a 1 1/2 cups of shredded zucchini (about one medium squash).  If you don’t want to bake 42 loaves to get through your harvest, run the lot through your food processors shredder, package in ziplocs in 1 1/2 cup portion, freeze and bake this puppy up all winter long.

The recipe is from one of my fave cooking magazines, Cooking Light. I’m publishing a link to Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread rather than the actual recipe as I’m not sure how the copyrights work with big magazines. I recommend baking a little less than the 60 minutes they suggest for a moist, slightly underdone texture (dry cakes and breads are a pet peeve).

Oh, and be sure to use fair trade cocoa (Dagoba, Equal Exchange) and chocolate chips like Rapunzel (available at Whole Foods and New Seasons).

Next up in my “Cooking Your Garden’s Harvest” series (like the name? I just made it up) is Garden Fresh Roasted Salsa.  Coming tomorrow or very, very soon.

Sunny Spring Trunk Show!

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Twice a year I voluntarily turn my house topsy-turvy. The toddler toys are scooped up and replaced with tables and racks of Bambootique‘s best.  Pretty spring purses, soft cotton scarves, hip messenger bags, glittery beads, delicious fair trade snacks and more all help transform my home into a global shopping bazaar. Each time I wonder “will anyone come?” and every time the crowds of happy shoppers swoop in. Last Saturday over 50 of you came and it was so much fun!

Thanks to each of you who came to support fair trade and pick out great gifts for yourselves and people you love! Thanks also to the vendors who donated snacks and drinks for us to enjoy – Strictly Organic Coffee, Numi Tea, Slo Chai, Theo chocolate, and Honest Tea and also to Food Front Cooperative Grocery who gave our first 25 shoppers free reusable cloth shopping bags. Thanks also to my mom who baked mouth-watering fair trade chocolate chip cookies we all enjoyed! Thanks to my wonderful helper friends – Katie, Karin, Lorie, Megan, Karen, Mary Lee, Connie and Kristin. And finally thanks to my husband Steve and daughter Grace for putting up with it!

Do you want to make sure you don’ t miss the next trunk show? It will be in November 2009. Contact me to be added to the invite list!

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Useful Updates In The World Of Fair Trade

A few various bits and pieces of interesting fair trade news have come my way in the last couple of days thanks to Green America. Here are the businessseal-lg-greensoundbytes for your enjoyment/ enlightenment.

  • Green America (formerly Co-op America) has just released their latest Guide to Fair Trade. It’s a comprehensive resource guide for all things fair trade including interviews with leaders in the industry, a run-down of various fair trade product categories, and a fabulous directory of hundreds of fair-trade companies for just about every kind of product you think of (including, of course, Bambootique). The guide is available for free as a pdf download or you can order paper copies at a low price.
  • I wrote a few weeks ago about Cadbury’s chocolate in the UK going fair trade, but not here in the USA.  Now there’s an organized effort to thank Cadbury (owned by Hershey’s in the US) for their efforts and encourage them to pursue the same ethical model in America.  I signed Green America’s letter to Cadbury’s CEO and so can you. Go here and spend 10 seconds to show that American chocolate consumers are as socially concerned as our friends across the water.

Happy Holy Week

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“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:11

We’re now in the week leading up to Easter, the greatest celebration of the year for followers of Christ. Yesterday was Palm Sunday and our local paper ran an interesting article about fair trade palm branches. I had no idea unfair palm branches were an issue but, like so much that we use and buy without thinking twice, something joyous to us can be painful to others. Knowing the truth is a good thing.

Many of the palm branches churches order for Palm Sunday are harvested using unsustainable farming practices and workers are paid less than living wages. The Presbyterian Church has launched the Eco-Palms project to work with famers in Guatemala and Mexico. Farmers are paid 5-6x what they were previously getting, and the focus is on quality rather than quantity (typical  harvest of palm fronds can result in up to 50% being discarded because of trying to get the greatest volume possible).  The project also ensures the palms are harvested sustainably, meaning that the trees are not killed in the process.

This project seems like a wonderful idea and they are definitely getting the word out. This year over 600,000 palm fronds were sold to US churches through the project, up from 5000 palm fronds just 4 years ago when the project launched.  My church was even more creative. We didn’t use any palms at all, but instead used sword ferns harvested from members’ yards. Sword ferns are a native plant in Oregon so not only are we celebrating with our local version of palm fronds, no fossil fuels were burned to get them to us from far away.  Consider one of these options for your congregation next year!

While we’re thinking about integrating justice into Holy Week, don’t forget to look for fair trade chocolate goodies for any Easter baskets you get to fill. Why support child labor, slave labor, or ecological damage in the sweet treats you buy?  Check your local natural foods store for their selections of fair trade Easter chocolates. Yum!

Spring Trunk Show And Inventory Clearance – Saturday April 18th

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Twice a year I open up my home for a Bambootique Trunk Show, where all Bambootique products are available for purchase in person and, for the first time, it’s ALL on sale.

If you haven’t come before, why not make this year the first? I have full_circle_messgr_bg_pnkoverstock from Christmas I need to move plus with the way the economy is, we’re all looking for a deal. Everything will be 10-75% off web prices. On top of that, I’ll have dozens of new products and trunk show exclusive products not available online. Like what you say? Gypsy bags from Honduras, woven baskets from Rwanda, and finger puppets from Peru to name a few.

It will also be your chance to grab one of our brand-new messenger bags from South Africa. These babies are literally flying out the door and I’m afraid there may be a waiting list soon. A new shipment is (fingers crossed) arriving from South Africa just days before the trunk show. If a messenger bag is on your trunk show shopping list, I advise you to arrive early.

The trunk show is not just a chance to shop, although a lot of shopping will go on. It’s a great social event and a chance to introduce your friends and family to the world of fair trade, even beyond Bambootique. Everyone will get a free sample bag of Strictly Organic Coffee (roasted in Bend, Oregon) and I’ll have samples of Theo chocolate,  not to mention my mom’s popular fair trade chocolate chip cookies, fresh-brewed fair trade coffee and organic Numi teas. Wear comfy shoes, grab your best girlfriends, and drop on by!img_5000

Mark your calendar!

What: Bambootique Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance (10-75% off)

When: Saturday April 18th, 10am-4pm

Where: Bambootique Founder Beth Sethi’s home in Tualatin, Oregon. Email me for the address (I prefer not to post it online, but everyone is welcome!)

Why: Because shopping is so much more fun in person than online, especially when it’s all on sale!  If you don’t come April 18th you’ll have to wait for (gasp) the Christmas trunk show.

Cadbury Creme Eggs Go Fair Trade, But Not In The USA

Once again Europe is paving the ethical way for the world to follow, showing that profit and fair trade can coexist even cadbury_eggs_whitein the biggest of companies.

It won’t be in time for this Easter, but by the end of this summer 100% of all Cadbury chocolate products will use fair trade cocoa only. At least, if you live in the UK or Ireland. Those cute little chocolate eggs filled with that sugary, creamy center will only be sweeter when the chocolate shell comes from cocoa beans raised on fair trade cooperative farms in Ghana, West Africa. But not yet for us in the States.

In the US, Cadbury branded products are made by chocolate giant Hershey’s. Hershey’s is not exactly known for ethical cocoa trading practices. In fact, they have been criticized by Co-op America for buying cocoa from farms using child or slave labor.

Still Cadbury’s move in Europe is huge for a few very important reasons:

  • It shows fair trade practices can still result in profit.
  • The move demonstrates that consumer pressure on big corporations to act ethically works.
  • Fair trade cocoa exports from Ghana will triple as a result of this switch.
  • Cocoa from Ghana is considered some of the best in the world, so flavor and quality will only improve.

Cadbury is the largest chocolate company in the UK so their example will certainly be watched closely by our biggest chocolate manufacturers, Hershey’s and MandM/Mars. In the meantime, I’ll be continuing to enjoy my favorite fair trade chocolates like Theo, Divine, Dagoba and Equal Exchange. Anyone know where I can get my hands on Cadbury creme eggs made in England?

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