Environment, Social Implications in Agriculture, Travel, well-being, What is Organic

Chocolate Love and Cocoa Equity – Celebrate Fair Trade

Chocolate is good for you – but not all chocolate is equal
Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

I discovered chocolate was a drug in my early forties, the way it folded across my tongue, dispensing a sensation of wellbeing—almost like love. Then I went to Ecuador and witnessed the complexity of growing and processing magic cocoa beans. I met the good people who performed multiple ministrations, working under poverty-like conditions to bring this elixir to my 90% cocoa bar.

Cocao has a dark history of slavery and exploitation
Photo by Social History Archive on Unsplash

The cocoa bean is also referred to as cacao—not to be confused with coca when going through customs. Cocoa beans are embedded in an elongated leathery pod filled with a sweet, mucilaginous pulp (called baba de cacao). The appendage-like pods are harvested straight off the trunk, opened with a machete—the pulp and cocoa seeds are removed. Piled in heaps, bins, or laid out on grates for days in the Equatorial sun. Trodden and shuffled about (often with bare feet), sometimes, sprinkled with red clay mixed and water, to obtain a finer color and polish. This process protects them from moldering during shipment to other countries.

Cocoa beans are fermented dried and roasted
Photo by Rodrigo Flores on Unsplash

Dried and fully fermented, the seeds are finally roasted; only then can the cocoa solids (the powder) and cocoa butter (the fat) be extracted.

That’s a lot of work for one little bean, and the history of colonialism remains an enduring legacy of inequality in the lives of these producers today.

The British comedienne and author Jo Brand once proclaimed, “Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate.”

I would add that good is made when chocolate is grown with ethical practices, Organic and Fair-Trade.

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Environment, Social Implications in Agriculture, What is Organic

Brewing a Better World: Celebrate National Coffee Day with Grace Farms 

Enjoy a cup of coffee, knowing it is sourced exclusively from women-led co-ops in Ethiopia, Colombia, and Indonesia.

Most of us begin our day with a steaming cup of hot java, be it expresso or drip; we love our cool beans. Their rich, dark flavor gives us the daily courage to go out and do good work.

But how many of us think about where those beans came from and who planted, harvested, and packed them? How did this delicious brew get to our morning mug? 

The history of coffee has a dark side steeped in human exploitation. 

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Environment, well-being, What is Organic

Spring – Time to Clean & Appreciate What We Have and What Shall be Given Up

You know its Spring When the Sap is flowing!
Photo by Gabriel Garcia Marengo on Unsplash

Spring – A Time to Clean, Appreciate What We Have and What shall be Given Up

It’s been a long cold winter, and if you’re like me, you’ve been sheltering in place warm and safe yet going a little stir crazy. This stirring applies not only to cocktails but stirring and rooting around in “drawers of doom” and crammed closets. A life of artifacts and photos, books and clothes, treasures once held dear are now unearthed.

If you could see my office right now, you would think a “relic bomb” had gone off, strewing precious clutter everywhere. 

Spring is now upon us, and this muddle of things looks me straight in the face and begs me to clean and consider what I’ve found and what I need to give up. 

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Environment, Organic Policy and Regulations, Social Implications in Agriculture, well-being, What is Organic

Stay Safe, Stay Sane, Stay Strong – We May be in for a Wild Ride

We are in for one wild ride!
Photo by 立志 牟 on Unsplash

I’m as tired of sheltering in place as almost everyone is by now. It’s been months of not touching or seeing beloved friends and family. Zoom receptions don’t cut if – where’s the wine?

If the experts are right, we are ill-prepared for what’s yet to come ahead. This pandemic isn’t over, nor is the social unrest and discord in our political circles. 

If you ask me, all people deserve the right to nutritious organic food, health care, education, clean energy and a planet that isn’t degraded.

While we sort this out and deal with a global pandemic, here are a few tips to keep us safe, sane and strong, while making the planet a better place.

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Environment, Organic Policy and Regulations, What is Organic

What’s in Your Bed? Don’t Judge a Bed by Its Covers

Whats really under those sheets?
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

I am a fantastic sleeper. My husband says he could conduct a marching band through our bedroom, and I would not awaken.

I dream vividly and can sleep soundly for 8-10 hours if the sun would just let me.

Most of us spend a prodigious amount of time in our bed. If I sleep for 8 hours a day, that means I will sleep for 229,961 hours in my lifetime or basically one-third of my entire life.

If you add when I’m awake relaxing with my hubby or reading the news, it can add more hours every day on this vital piece of furniture. 

What do you do in bed besides sleep?
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

If the average American lies around for an additional four hours, research shows they can spend 36 years in bed throughout their lifetime – that’s nearly half of their life! 

This got me to thinking… should I be considering what I am sleeping on?

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