Vanilla nice, nice, baby (Day 364)…

February 27, 2008

fair-trade vanilla

Everyone always talks about fair-trade chocolate, but why not vanilla? It’s just as important. In fact, as an ingredient, it’s probably used in more products than chocolate — nearly every pastry, baked good, dessert item, jam and so on includes either vanilla beans or vanilla extract.

Ben & Jerry’s launched their fair-trade vanilla ice cream in 2006, complete with online photo albums of their growing operations in India, Paraguay and Ecuador (on a side note, B&J are also working on a prototype for thermoacoustic fridges powered by sound waves, their employees offset all air travel, their climate “hoofprint” is climate neutral, they use free-range eggs, their brownies come from a kitchen that teaches cooking to the homeless and they’re currently looking at converting their ice cream waste into energy with a bio-gas digester … could Vermont get any crunchier?).

Anyway, I got the Frontier brand vanilla flavour but there are other varieties out there, and you can read a bit more about all the fair-trade certification requirements here. Either way, I’ll be making sure all my vanilla from now on is from as ethical a source as possible.

Of course, some forms of vanilla are just never ethical.

Image licked from this website

All’s fair-trade in love and tea (Day 283)…

December 8, 2007

I’ve managed to green my tea (not that my tea is always green but — well, you know what I’m getting at) in more ways than one, buying only loose-leaf and refilling my packets, then using the wet leaves to get rid of lingering garlic smells on my fingers.

But for my Simple Saturday change today, I’m going to take one more step and ensure that all the tea I buy is also fair-trade. Fortunately, I live near Tealish and the Red Tea Box, both of which stock such ethically responsible varieties. I’ve already committed to drinking only fair-trade coffee and eating fair-trade chocolate, so this seems like the next logical step.

In fact, in my current headachey and dehydrated state, I think a matcha tea latte may be just what I need right now. Yugh.

A green Halloween, part two (Day 245)…

October 31, 2007


As promised, today is part two of my mission to green Halloween (which is today, for those of you who don’t live in North America, where we like to dress up). Previously, I wrote about consuming every last bit of the pumpkin I carved up at a friend’s house. Now, I feel the need to address the costumes and the candy — and don’t worry, I promise not to be too much of a kill-joy, because there’s really nothing I love more than kids wearing pirate outfits and going mental for mini Snickers bars.

Anyway, my dear Treehugging friend Lloyd Alter was on the local news recently talking about this holiday and made a bunch of useful suggestions: giving out organic lollipops and fair-trade chocolate (homemade treats are still a little taboo, it seems), using pillow cases instead of plastic bags, and decorating with old milk jugs and tin cans.

Costume-wise, I was inclined to go as David Suzuki and download this creepy mask of him, but unfortunately that would involve using paper and printing ink. Then I thought maybe it would be best to go all Adam Sandler and be something like About to Sneeze Man — easy, quick, no carbon impact, and I’d get to yell, “Look at me, with my face all squished up like I’m about to sneeze! Before I do, you better gimme some candy!”

But then the five-year-olds probably wouldn’t get it, and their parents would think I’m just copping out. So, I don’t know. I haven’t quite figured what I’ll be wearing tonight, but it’ll definitely be something assembled from the clothes and props I already have.

Also, I never really get many kids coming to my door because I live in a condo. But if they do, then I can offer them a half-eaten bar of fair-trade chocolate or some cabbage from my CSA delivery last Friday!

And decoration-wise, I have a few ghost-shaped candle holders sitting in the back of a kitchen drawer somewhere, so I’ll probably just reuse those and stick some beeswax tea lights in them.

I guess it’s easy for me to green my Halloween because I don’t have any kids, nor a helpless puppy like this one, I don’t really like wearing masks, capes and/or wigs, and don’t have much of a sweet tooth. But if you guys have any of your own suggestions, feel free to share!