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).

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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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Strictly Organic Coffee Is Strictly Delicious

“Dark. Rich. Beautiful. Delicious.”woman-picking-cherries_thum

Response to a bar of chocolate perhaps? Nope, those are the words uttered by my coffee-loving husband as he ground fresh beans from Strictly Organic Coffee for our morning brew.  We’ve been sampling a different roast each morning for the past week and we’re in coffee bliss.  As I type I’m enjoying a deep, dark cup of Ethiopian Harar, one of my all-time-favorite varieties of coffee and especially exquisite from Strictly Organic. We’ve also loved their Organic Papau New Guinea blend and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Each type is perfectly roasted and I have to admit to even snacking on a few plain beans. They’re that good.

Strictly Organic roasts 100% organic, 100% fair trade certified beans at their roatery in beautiful Bend, Oregon. They have  a great little cafe as well as delivering their freshly roasted beans by bicycle to various retailers and restaurants around Bend.  The company reminds me of a central Oregon version of Portland’s favorite coffee roaster, Stumptown. Besides all the good things listed above, the company also pays health insurance to all employees.

Strictly Organic sent me the samples I’ve been trying for the past week and they’re sending up sample bags for EVERYONE who attends Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance next Saturday (April 18th).  Other great fair trade products on sample will include Theo chocolate, SLO Vanilla Chai Latte, Noble Coffee and Numi teas.  I hope to see you there!

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.

New York, You Are Soooo Lucky. Stumptown Is On Its Way!

Portland’s iconic coffee roaster, Stumptown, is opening a roastery this month in Brooklyn, NY and, eventually, they will be adding a cafe as well. Having a Stumptown enter your neighborhood is akin to having a fine wine store move in when all you’ve had available is 2-buck Chuck.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters is so much more than a morning drink. Stumptown buys their coffee far and above fair trade prices, and owner Duane Sorenson personally knows many of the farmers he buys from. He even flies them up to Portland from time to time and hosts events in Stumptown’s coffee shops for customers to meet the farmers. Steve and I attended one such event last year, where we heard from coffee farmers from Panama and Costa Rica. Some of the coffee Stumptown imports is so fine and rare it sells for hundreds of dollars per pound (think $20 per cup!).

But don’t think Stumptown is pretentious. Oh no, not at all. Their coffee shops are gritty and loud. Most of their varieties are perfectly affordable and their individual coffee drink prices are competitive with Starbucks, but taste so much better.  What I love is that Duane doesn’t just care about his coffee farmers or the quality of his beans, he cares enough for his baristas that they all have health insurance. Not many small businesses guarantee that any more and it surely cuts into his profit margin, and yet he does it.

I’ve been hearing about Starbucks closing shop right and left in New York City. Now there’s just one more reason for them to do so. Stumptown is moving in and New York coffee will never be the same.

My New Favorite Fair Trade Coffee

While visiting a winery in southern Oregon this summer, my husband and I picked up a bag of locally roasted coffee. We were intrigued when we read that the coffee beans came from one of the Ethiopian co-ops featured in the movie Black Gold. We bought the bag and it. was. delicious.

The coffee was rich and smooth and dark, which is what we love in a good coffee. It was roasted by Noble Coffee Roasters located in Talent, Oregon (Rogue Valley), so when we ran out I emailed their owner, Jared Rennie, to see how I could get some more. Turns out the Harar is a single origin coffee which Noble roasts only once every twelve weeks. Jared suggested I get on their mailing list so I would be notified the next time they roasted it. After much waiting and much sub-par coffee in the meantime, my shipment of Harar whole beans arrived today! I breathed in the aroma as soon as I opened the box and tomorrow morning I expect to enjoy a cup of heavenly bliss!

The great news is, the coffee arrived just in time for Bambootique’s trunk show this weekend! If you’re in the Portland area and are planning on stopping by, I’ll be brewing my new favorite fair trade coffee and sharing it with you.

You can order Noble coffee yourself through their website. If you try it, let me know if you loved it as much as I did!

Taking Organic, Fair Trade A Step Further

Soon we saw that money going to women brought much more benefit to the family than money going to the men. So we changed our policy and gave a high priority to women.

– Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank and the man who made micro-lending a worldwide phenomenon to combat global poverty

Last night’s Cafe Feminino Coffee Festival at the Bagdad Theater was an eye-opening event even for this fair-trader.  The debut of the documentary Strong Coffee: The Story of Cafe Feminino was the centerpiece of the evening and a powerful vehicle to tell the story of this effective organization.

The power of fair trade is becoming more broadly understood. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, second only to oil. It’s a $5 billion a year industry but less than 10% of that stays in the communities that actually grow the beans, the most labor-intensive part of your cup of joe.  Most coffee farmers live on $2/ day or less. Raising coffee is back-breaking work, with little or no mechanization and all the work done by hand. Ever picked blueberries? It’s fun…for about 20 minutes. Then you start to realize how slowly your big bucket is filling with those little berries, your back starts to ache and that’s enough for today thank you very much. Picking coffee is like picking blueberries except the plants grow much taller (think small people stretching very high) and many coffee growers walk several miles to their farms each day. Exhausting!

Until fair trade and organic coffee premiums became a possibility for high-quality coffee growers, they sold their beans to coyotes, middle men who paid low, often unlivable prices per pound. Fair trade and organic premiums have given farmers worldwide a chance to break free from coyotes and moneylenders and get a fair price.

The founders of Cafe Feminino, coffee importers from Vancouver, Washington, discovered that those premiums didn’t necessarily trickle down to the women and children in the families. Abuse rates remained as high in 70% in some communities they bought coffee from in Peru. So in partnership with women coffee farmers in their communities, Cafe Feminino was born with the core value of buying fair trade, organic coffee only from women coffee growers. The land has to be deeded in the woman’s name, she has to do the work on her farm and the payment for the coffee goes into her pocket.

The co-op in Peru started with 464 women the first year and now has grown to over 1000 members 5 years later. The model has expanded to other countries including Mexico, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Ethiopia. A portion of the premium paid is reinvested in community projects like books for children and health projects.  Abuse rates have plummeted as the women have gained self-respect as well as value in their husbands’ eyes. Some of the women farmers are single moms, who now are able to use their incomes to send their children to school. The transformation has been quick and deep.

Cafe Feminino recognizes that the women they buy from want the same thing: respect and to have their contributions to their families and communities valued.  That’s what women everywhere want. That’s what I want. That’s what the artisans I buy fair trade handicrafts from want. Now that we have certification for fair trade and organic, I’m thinking the next movement should be “certified woman-made!” That way we’d know every coffee dollar we spend is not just good to the planet and bought at a fair price but goes straight into the hands of mothers.

Cafe Feminino sells their green coffee beans to roasters all over the world but especially in the Pacific Northwest. You can find their roasted beans in Portland at coffee shops like K&F and Kobos, as well as at Trader Joe’s. I enjoyed a cup this morning and it was fabulous!

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Mark Your Calendar For Our Holiday Fair Trade Trunk Show – Two Days This Year!

By popular demand, this year’s fair trade holiday trunk show will be TWO DAYS! That’s right, you’ll have Saturday and Sunday to shop for fair trade gifts for everyone on your list. Pick holiday gifts this year that make a world of difference and that everyone will love!

Here’s the scoop:

Holiday Fair Trade Trunk Show

Saturday November 15 (10am-4pm) and Sunday November 16 (1-4pm)
Beth’s home in Tualatin, Oregon
Public welcome and bring friends!
Contact us for location and directions or email Beth at beth at shopbambootique dot com. Your invitation will include a money-saving coupon to use at the show!  (I don’t really like to post my home address online, but I’m happy to share it over email!)
Our biggest event of the year is now going to two days! By popular request, you’ll have more shopping hours to choose from, which is a good thing because there will be more items to choose from than ever before!

This year’s trunk show features new products from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Thailand and Cambodia plus favorites from Indonesia, Nepal, Guatemala, Honduras, Togo and more!  Besides our coveted bags and jewelry we’ll have fair trade, organic skincare products plus Christmas ornaments, scarves, and eco-friendly candles. We’ve also added kids’ products so be sure to check out our Global Kids Corner.

And speaking of kids, little ones are welcome at the trunk show. We’ll have a special area set up in the shopping area with toys and snacks to keep little ones happy so mom can shop. More details on the kids’ corner in upcoming post.

If that’s not enough, this year’s show features free swag bags for every attendee! Our swag bags will be full of fair trade product samples such as tea and chocolate, coupons and info so you can try the products out and learn more about how you can incorporate fair trade into all aspects of your life.

Other features of the show include deeply discounted samples and clearance items, homemade chocolate chip cookies and hot apple cider, and great music! See you at the trunk show!

Remember – email me at beth at shopbambootique dot com for an emailed invitation with the location, more details and a great discount coupon.

I’m In Love With Burgerville

If I had a top ten list of things I love about Oregon, Burgerville would make the list. I visit my fave drive-thru at least once a week, sometimes more. I’ve been known to drive miles out of my way to get there, which I suppose isn’t exactly “sustainable” but it tastes soooo good.

My favorite thing to order these days is a kids’ meal. I can do that now that I have a child without getting funny looks. Grace and I have an arrangement that works well for both of us. She gets the apple slices (instead of fries) and the toy, I get the small hamburger and chocolate smoothie (substituted for a soda). As soon as we even approach the drive-thru Grace starts to yell “Apo, apo!” (translation – Apple! Apple!). My child actually has no idea she could get french fries from a drive-thru, and I love that she gets excited about fast-food-fruit.

Everything about Burgerville is sustainable. Today I noticed my straw is compostable. On the rare occasions when I do break down and get fries or a Walla-Walla onion ring, I don’t feel too guilty since they recycle all the oil to make biofuels. Their all-natural turkey burger is a favorite of mine when I’m really hungry (hold the mayo, add extra pickle, on a nine-grain bun). Just about every item on the menu comes from the Northwest and is sustainably raised. They even buy wind energy and they are now composting at many of their stores. I love this place!

My only complaint about Burgerville is their coffee. They serve fair trade coffee, which is a huge plus but whatever brand they are using, it tastes TERRIBLE. There are so many delicious fair trade coffees out there, I’m hoping they’ll switch to one soon. How about Stumptown served at Burgerville? Now THAT would be something.

Burgerville only exists in Oregon and Washington. I feel so sorry for the other 48 states!

Cafe Feminino Coffee Festival – What Fun!

October is Fair Trade Month in the USA, if you didn’t know, and I just learned about this way cool event at the Baghdad Theater on October 16th. I’ll be there and hope to see some of you there as well!

From Transfair USA’s website:

Thursday, October 16
Cafe Femenino Foundation presents
STRONG COFFEE
A fundraiser for the foundation
5 p.m. ’til 8:30 p.m. | $20; tickets can be purchased at cafefemeninofondation.org | All ages welcome

Bagdad Theater and Pub
3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97214

“Strong Coffee” tells the story of Peruvian women coffee producers who, by creating their own coffee “Café Femenino,” are changing a culture that marginalizes and subordinates women. The women grow, harvest and process their own organic and fair trade coffee; their efforts have inspired women in Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemale, Mexico, Brazil and Nicaragua to begin their own Café Femenino programs.

This fundraising event, put on by the Café Femenino Foundation, helps to fund grants that benefit women and their families in coffee communities around the world.

McMenamins is proud to announce that our coffee roasters will support these Café Femenino coffee producers by serving their Peruvian coffees in all our espresso beverages. It is a lightly roasted coffee with a sweet caramel flavor and hints of sea salt and crema.

Join us in supporting this cause at the Bagdad, where you can also sample café Femenino coffees.

Tickets are available at cafefemeninofoundation.org or at coffeecan.org.

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