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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Fair Trade

GIFT: Gourmet Cocoa And Hot Chocolate

Winter Hot Chocolate is a classic cocoa mix
with a touch of vanilla. Photo courtesy Lake
Champlain Chocolates.

 

“Forget Christmas gifts this year,” said our friend Gerard, when he called to invite us to his annual party and gifting frenzy. “At this point in our lives, none of us needs another scarf, another basket of Kiehl’s products, another tzotchke, another random book.”

“Can we bring some gourmet cocoa?” we suggested. “Sure,” he responded.

That’s why we love food gifts. They can readily be consumed by the recipient, his guests or his family members.

And you don’t have to go far to find something good. Any upscale supermarket has gourmet chocolate bars, fine olive oil and gourmet hot chocolate.

We passed by all of them at Whole Foods yesterday, including these gifty hot chocolate canisters from Lake Champlain Chocolates (also available directly from Lake Champlain Chocolates). They’re just $10.50 for a festively-designed one-pound canister (one pound makes approximately 21 eight-ounce servings). You can package the gifts with some handmade marshmallows in the confections section.

 
Lake Champlain’s hot chocolate is certified kosher by Star-D, and is Fair Trade Certified, which means that it’s a feel-good product, right for the holiday season.

Fair trade certification allows farmers to receive higher prices than they would in the conventional market. It means that the farmers are paid a fair price for their product and are not exploited by middlemen who pay them less than their crop is worth.

Read more about Fair Trade.

 

25 WAYS TO GLAMORIZE A CUP OF COCOA

From adding flavors—banana, cinnamon, chai, hot spices, mint—to liqueurs, we’ve got 25 ways to make an already delicious cup of cocoa even more memorable.

Check ‘em out.
 
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCOA & HOT
CHOCOLATE

December 12th is National Cocoa Day. What’s the difference between cocoa and hot chocolate?

Most people use the terms interchangeably, but they’re actually different.

Cocoa is a drink made from cocoa powder.

Hot chocolate is a drink made from actual chocolate, usually ground or shaved into small bits. Chocolate has more cocoa butter than cocoa powder, so it makes a richer drink, all things being equal (the same type of milk, e.g.).

 

Enjoy Peppermint Hot Chocolate for the holidays, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Chocolates.

 

To make any cup of cocoa or hot chocolate richer, you can:

  • Use half and half, or half milk and half cream.
  • Stir in a pat of unsweetened butter—really! It’s a chef’s secret trick.
  •  
    Visit our Cocoa Section for brand reviews, recipes and more about man’s favorite chocolate drink.

    Or take our Cocoa Trivia Quiz.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Divine Fair Trade Chocolate

    Most of the world’s farmers live in poverty. They’re forced to accept whatever brokers want to pay them for their crops.

    Fair Trade ensures that farmers are paid fair value for their crops. This affords a minimum standard of living, money for adult (instead of child) labor and the ability to farm with sound (sustainable) agricultural practices.

    Fair Trade is the trademarked term of nonprofit organization that audits transactions between U.S. companies offering Fair Trade Certified products and the international suppliers from whom they source. It is one of several organizations working all over the world to certify fairly traded goods. Here’s more on Fair Trade.

    In the case of the the world’s greatest chocolatiers, an elite group, Fair Trade is a moot point. The chocolatiers are already paying top dollar to secure the limited supply of the world’s ultra-finest cacao beans.

    But there’s a lot of chocolate, even in the premium category (not the mass marketed bars), that comes from farmers who sometimes have to sell their crops for less than it costs to grow it.

     

    Special holiday flavor bars and foil-wrapped dark and milk chocolate coins. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    If only all farmers had the ability to emulate the Kuapa Kokoo farmers’ co-op in Ghana. The name means “good cocoa farming.” Instead of exclusive ownership under a corporate board of executives or a family who has handed down the business from generation to generation, the business is actually owned partly by the 40,000 small farmers who grow, harvest and partially process the cacao.

    The cooperative works at improving the social, economic and political well-being of its members. Women cacao farmers play significant roles at all levels of the organization, and the co-op encourages environmentally sustainable production.

     

    Christmas tree boxes filled with chocolate
    Christmas trees. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    And, their cacao beans are used to make the Fair Trade Certified line, Divine Chocolate.

    DIVINE CHOCOLATE FOR THE HOLIDAYS

    This very reasonably priced line, beautifully packaged, offers a nice choice stocking stuffers, teacher gifts or office gifts. Each purchase supports these farmers and their excellent mission.

    If you like, you can use the gift to teach your family, friends and colleagues about supporting Fair Trade, and. They’ll feel good about every bite.

    There’s something for every chocolate-lover in Divine Chocolate’s collection:

  • Advent calendar, $4.55
  • Chocolate bars: holiday special 38% Milk Chocolate With Spiced Cookies and 70% dark chocolate with hazelnuts and cranberries, plus 13 year-round flavors, $3.99
  • Chocolate coins in milk or dark chocolate, 1.75 ounce mesh bag, $3.99
  • Christmas tree box filled with Christmas tree chocolates, 3.5 ounces, $8.49
  •  

  • Dark Chocolate Mint Thins and Ginger Thins, $8.49
  • There are savings with the purchase of multiple pieces of the same item, as well a gift baskets with an assortment of products.
     

    See all the holiday specials and the entire product line at Divine Chocolate.com.

    —Steven Gans

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Buy A Fair Trade Product

    October is National Fair Trade Month, so today’s tip is to buy something that’s fairly traded.

    Most people don’t understand Fair Trade. One of the reasons is that, unlike the USDA Certified Organic Seal that appears on all organic product packaging—regardless of the particular certifying agency (there are certifiers in every state)—the different Fair Trade-related certifying organizations have their own logos. Some, like Equal Exchange and Rainforest Alliance, aren’t even called anything related to “fair” or “trade.”

    Rather, the complexity is more like kosher certification, where hundreds of different kosher certifiers are involved, each with their own logo or mark (called a hechsher, pronounced HECK-sure). Consumers decide if they want to buy products certified only by the largest and best-known, or if they’ll trust a hechsher they don’t know—or recognize that it’s a hechsher in the first place.

     

    Pick just one product you use regularly, and make it Fair Trade. Photo courtesy Green Mountain Coffee.

     
    So the Fair Trade challenge is that there isn’t one logo or mark that consumers can instantly recognize as a fairly traded product. The consumer has to do the work to figure it out.

    But let’s start with the basics.

    WHAT IS FAIR TRADE

    Fair Trade International, Fair For Life, Rainforest Alliance and other certification organizations ensure that farmers are paid fair value for their products. Without Fair Trade, brokers can strike deals that pay the farmers less than it costs them to grow their crops.

    Fair Trade affords money for adult (instead of child) labor, sound agricultural practices and a minimum standard of living, including healthcare and education for their families.

    The term “Fair Trade” is used generically, but it is a trademarked term authorized by TransFair USA, a nonprofit organization that audits transactions between U.S. companies offering Fair Trade Certified™ products and the international suppliers from whom they source.

    TransFair is one of some twenty members of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), and the only third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the U.S.

     

    Buy Fair Traded products so retailers will
    know consumers want them, and keep
    them in stock. This product is also organic. Photo courtesy BrewOrganic.com.

     

    FAIR TRADE VERSUS ORGANIC

    Fair Trade is completely separate from organic certification. Some products pursue both certifications.

    WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

    You are one of the stakeholders in Fair Trade. In addition to helping some of the world’s poorest people improve their lots, you help with sustainability.

    Small actions build into large ones. You can help the Fair Trade movement buy buying just one Fair Trade-certified product. Whether it’s your coffee, sugar, or anything else, your purchase tells retailers that Fair Trade products are important to consumers.

    If no one buys them, they won’t stay on the shelf.

    So browse your store shelf and buy one—or more—items. Help to make the world a better place.

    NOTE: If you can’t find Fair Trade Certified products in your supermarket, try a natural foods store.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Buy A Fair Trade Product For World Fair Trade Day

    Look for a small Fair Trade logo that
    identifies fairly traded products. Photo
    courtesy Green Mountain Coffee.

     

    Today’s tip is to purchase a Fair Trade product. May 11th is World Fair Trade Day.

    Fair Trade is a practice that seeks to aid economically challenged, small-scale farmers around the world. Many of them labor in poverty to produce the cacao, coffee beans and other crops we take for granted. Because of the “system,” they often earn less than it costs to produce the crop.

    While America’s small farmers often endure severe economic hardships, American children go to school and families have access to public health care and other assistance. In third world countries, however, these “essentials” can be hard to come by. And since school is not mandatory in certain countries, many children instead work in the fields to contribute to the household income.

    Why is the situation so bleak? Most small family farmers live in remote locations and lack access to credit, so they are vulnerable to local middlemen who offer quick cash for their crops, at a fraction of their value.

     
    Fair Trade guarantees farmers a set minimum price for their crops, which covers the cost of production and some profit. It links farmer-run cooperatives directly with U.S. importers (who in turn sell to manufacturers/packagers), cutting out middlemen and creating the conditions for long-term sustainability.

    Through Fair Trade, farmers and their families earn better incomes for their hard work. This allows them to hold on to their land, keep their children in school and invest in the quality of their harvest.

     

    WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP: BABY STEPS

    Use your purchasing power to make an impact on the lives of small farmers and their families.

  • Find A Retailer. While your main supermarket may not carry Fair Trade products, check at your natural products retailer or local food co-op. Chains such as Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Markets and Earth Fare are supporters of the movement.
  • Make One Product Switch To Fair Trade. It could be your coffee, your chocolate chips, your honey. Beans and grains, cocoa, coffee, fruits and vegetables, honey, nuts and seeds, sugar and tea are all fairly traded.
  •  
    THE FAIR TRADE MOVEMENT

    Certified Fair Trade products now comprise a multi-billion dollar industry, with over 10,000 products in the marketplace. Consumer demand for fairly traded products has steadily risen over the last decade, thanks to the tireless work of dedicated advocates and advocacy organizations, committed companies and student activism.

     

    Fairly traded chocolate is delicious. Photo courtesy Divine Chocolate.

     

    Fair Trade is a business practice that protects the environment while improving livelihoods.
    The fair trade movement, which includes different certifying agencies, has a vision of a world in which justice and sustainable development are at the heart of trade structures and practices, so that farmers can maintain a decent and dignified livelihood. Read more about it at FairWorldTradeProject.org.

    You’ll see different logos on Fair Trade products: There are many organizations around the world dedicated to the promotion of fair trade and its values. In North America, the leading organizations are the Fair Trade Federation (FTF), TransFair USA, and the Fair Trade Resource Network.

    Internationally, the big names are World Fair Trade Organization and FLO International. Here’s more about Fair Trade certifying agencies and the logos to watch for.

    Thanks in advance for pitching in this great cause.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Chocolate Covered Banana Bites

    Kopali Organics specializes in chocolate-covered snacks: banana, cacao nibs, espresso beans, goji, goldenberry, mango, mixed fruits, mulberry and pineapple.

    The products are also Fair Trade Certified, which means that the enterprise supports thousands of family farmers and communities worldwide (more about Fair Trade certification).

    Plus, 100% of profits go to The Sylvia Center, a garden-to-table program that inspires young people to discover good nutrition on the farm and in the kitchen. You can feel good about your purchase.

    We’re become enamored of Kopali’s Organic Chocolate Covered Banana snacks, bits of banana covered in delicious semisweet chocolate.

     

    Even better than a plain chocolate snack! Photo courtesy Kopali.

     
    AND THEY’RE ON SALE!

    For a limited time, you can save more than $1 a bag by purchasing a 12-pack of Kopali Chocolate Banana (normally $3.99 a bag, now $2.92). Buy them directly from the company website.

    Don’t worry that 12 bags might be too many. These treats may become your favorite snack…and are certain to earn the appreciation of any friends you share them with.

    Learn more about Kopali Organics snacks at Kopali.net.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Equal Exchange Fair Trade Chocolate

    Make your daily chocolate nibble fairly-
    traded. Photo of Equal Exchange Minis by
    Elvira Kalviste.

     

    This year, we went Fair Trade for Halloween. That means that the chocolate we handed out was ethically produced.

    While you won’t see many articles about it, cacao is an agricultural product that uses child slave labor in the fields. Just search for “chocolate slave labor” and you’ll read all about it.

    Start with this article from CNN. The journalists document that “child labor, trafficking and slavery are rife in an industry that produces some of the world’s best-known brands.”

    So, with a small effort to help make the world a better place, we buy Fair Trade/fairly traded products whenever we can. Especially for Halloween, we don’t want to give kids chocolate that enslaves other kids.

    Equal Exchange chocolate is a producer/packager of chocolate, cocoa, coffee and tea, supporting small-scale farmers and their families in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.

    All of the products are organic as well as fairly-traded. The company motto: “Small Farmers, Big Change.”

     
    WHY FAIR TRADE CERTIFICATION MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE

    Fair Trade ensures that farmers are paid fair value for their beans. In more than a few situations, brokers buy up crops for less than it costs to produce them, keeping small farmers in an endless loop of poverty.

    Fair value affords money for adult labor (enabling the farmers’ children to go to school instead of working in the fields), a minimum standard of living and sound agricultural practices that protect both workers and the environment.

    This issue impacts mass-marketed chocolate brands. In the case of the expensive gourmet chocolate, the chocolate makers are already paying top dollar to the best farmers (those fortunate to have the land in the areas that produce the best beans) to secure the limited supply of the world’s finest cacao (so you can feel good about paying $6.00 or more for that chocolate bar).

    “Fair Trade” is a trademarked term authorized by TransFair USA, a nonprofit organization that audits transactions between U.S. companies offering Fair Trade Certified™ products and the international suppliers from whom they source. TransFair is one of 20 members of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). Read more on the issues of Fair Trade.

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAIR TRADE & “FAIRLY TRADED”

    Only products certified by TransFair USA can use the trademarked term, “Fair Trade.” Products certified by other organizations must call themselves “fairly traded.”

     

    EQUAL EXCHANGE HOLIDAY GIFTS

    If you want to buy products that are ethically sourced, Equal Exchange and other producers are more than happy to provide them.

    Equal Exchange has candy bars for stocking stuffers, boxes of minis (single bites of chocolate) for those who like to nibble and tins of cocoa, along with tea, coffee and gift baskets.

    Shop online at Shop.Equal.Exchange.com.

    And spread the word about Fair Trade.

     

    Equal Exchange’s fairly traded, organic candy bars. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Lychee White Tea

    Fragrant and luscious, this tasty tea
    needs no added sugar. Photo courtesy
    Choice Organic Tea.

     

    The lychee (pronounced LIE-chee, not LEE-chee, after the Chinese lai chi) is one of the most popular fruits in Southern China. The evergreen grows wild in southern China, northern Vietnam and Cambodia, although there is evidence that it has been cultivated since around 2000 B.C.E.

    Lychee tea is highly esteemed in China. Following an ancient process, tea leaves are infused with the succulent juice of the lychee. The lychee is also a symbol of beauty. This tea has delicate woody overtones with a hint of sweet lychee flavor.

    Alternative spellings include lichee, litchi and other variations.

    We’ve been enjoying Lychee White Tea from Choice, a line of tea that is certified organic and Fair Trade Certified.

     

    Blended with the exotic flavor of lychee fruit and osmanthus flowers, the tea is lush and aromatic. It’s a beautiful tea to drink plain, without sweetener. The lychee supplies its own delicate sweetness, and the tea can be enjoyed hot or cold.

    Choice Lychee White Tea is available online.

    Learn more about Choice at ChoiceOrganicTeas.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Learn About Fair Trade

    October is Fair Trade Month. If you don’t know about Fair Trade, it’s important enough to devote a minute to read this.

    Small family farmers in developing-world countries grow much of the world’s cacao, coffee, tea, fruits and vegetables, cotton, flowers, ingredients for beauty products—more than 3,000 products in all.

    The vast majority of family farmers must take whatever brokers or other buyers offer for their crops, which can be less than market price and less than what it costs the farmer to grow them. Conventional trade practices traditionally discriminate against these poorest farmers.

    Fair Trade policies address these injustices. Fair Trade establishes practices that provide these farmers with fair terms of trade: fair prices—so they can make a small profit and send their children to school—decent working conditions and local sustainability.

     

    Fair Trade Certified, the logo of Transfair,
    is one of the global Fair Trade certifying organizations.

    Manufactured products that sport a Fair Trade logo participate in these fair practices, enabling poor farmers to improve their financial position and send their children to school (instead of needing them as farm laborers). There are several global Fair Trade certifying organizations, the logos of which ensure that standards have been met, including Fair Trade Federation, Fairtrade Foundation, Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO), Transfair and The World Fair Trade Organization.

    When you’re making a choice at the retail shelf and see a Fair Trade logo, think of the good that you’ll do by purchasing that brand.

  • Learn more about Fair Trade.
  • Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Coffee Candy

    Yesterday’s posts focused on tea. Now coffee gets its turn—in the form of coffee candy.

    The artisans at How Do You Take Your Coffee?, a confectioner in Reno, Nevada, like their coffee so much that they freshly roast their own beans prior to making four different types of coffee candy.

    The candies are innovative and sure to please the coffee lover—and the chocolate lover, too, since there’s a touch of chocolate in each.

    The line is very different from Caffe Acapella coffee bars, a prior Top Pick Of The Week. Caffe Acapella make a chocolate bar-like product that’s all coffee.

    How Do You Take Your Coffee? has bite-size candies—like the Java Rocks in the photo plus coffee and chocolate in a candy shell (think coffee M&Ms). The company uses fairly-traded coffee beans to make its products.

  • Check out the four different types of coffee candy line in the full review.
  • Find more of our favorite candies in our Gourmet Candy Section.
  •  

    Java indeed rocks in this line of coffee
    candy. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Rishi Organic & Fair Trade Masala Chai

    cup-box-1-230

    Just mix the concentrate with milk and
    you’ll be transported to India. Photo by
    Katherine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Chai lovers: You can now enjoy this spiced exotic treat in your own home. Rishi, sellers of organic tea, have launched an organic and Fair Trade Masala Chai tea concentrate.

    Masala chai is made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. Chai is the generic word for tea in Hindi and Punjabi and many other languages around the world—English speakers use the word “tea” from the Chinese “te” (from a dialect spoken around Xiamen). If you ask for chai, you’re only asking for tea; so show your superior knowledge and ask for masala chai if you want spiced tea.

    Rishi’s Masala Chai concentrate is all natural and microbrewed (brewing in micro-batches enables producers to adjust each batch according to the seasonal characteristics of the ingredients). You just add milk, then heat it or drink the tea cold over ice.

    The concentration of fine spices in Rishi’s brew makes your mouth tingle and transports you to the Indian subcontinent (put on some appropriate tunes as you enjoy the masala chai).

    There’s a bonus: Every purchase helps the Jane Goodall Institute including Roots & Shoots, a global, environmental and humanitarian program for young people from preschool to college.

    Look for Rishi’s Masala Chai concentrate at select Whole Foods Markets through the end of April; and afterward wherever Rishi teas are sold, including Rishi-Tea.com.

  • Learn all about tea and find more of our favorite teas in our Gourmet Tea Section.
  • Comments

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