Finding Inspiration in King

By Dee Walls, Food Safety Coordinator 

Each January, against my own better judgement, I sit down and write out my resolutions for the coming year. I reflect on the previous 365 days, and resolve to be better and to do better. Often times, these aspirations involve food, so I research and plan how I might alter my methods of food consumption to effect positive change in my life. Food, which has become as much of a technical object as a cultural one, is an incredibly important part of our lives. In deciding how we nourish ourselves, we make decisions that are simultaneously nutritional and environmental, political and economic.

As time passes in January, and my motivation begins to falter, I begin the other annual tradition of abandoning those things which I was so passionately committed to achieving a few weeks earlier. This usually coincides with a long weekend, culminating with a holiday in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As I lay there snacking guiltily, scrolling through my timelines on various social media platforms, I am comforted by all of the quotes describing dreams, justice, and nonviolent resistance. For a moment, I consider that perhaps this year will be different.

In an essay titled “The Dangerous Road Before Martin Luther King,” James Baldwin describes two opportunities he had to meet King. During the first encounter, Baldwin attends a service at King’s church in Montgomery, Alabama. The King that Baldwin aligns with the narrative of King that we have grown so familiar with: humble, kind, and inspiring.

Baldwin and King next cross paths in Atlanta, Georgia, three years after the first encounter. King faced many personal struggles during those three years, including legal battles in Alabama and Georgia, and an attack that left him severely injured. Baldwin depicts a much different King during this meeting, a more tormented one, yet one still retaining the aforementioned compassion and resolve. Moreover, Baldwin recounts the development of the student movements of the American civil rights era. He writes that, “It is the sons and daughters of the beleaguered bourgeoisie […] who have begun a revolution in the consciousness of this country which will inexorably destroy nearly all that we now think of as concrete and indisputable.”

Opposite this nascent revolution was the existing “publicized Negro leadership,” with goals described by Baldwin as “nothing less than the total integration of Negroes in all levels of the national life.” King was affiliated with this incumbent leadership, towards which the younger revolutionaries directed criticism, bitterness, disappointment, and skepticism. Baldwin sympathizes with the older leadership, acknowledging that, “It was not easy to wring concessions from the people at the bargaining table, who had, after all, no intention of giving their power away.” Nevertheless, Baldwin discusses a “dullness” among this older leadership, “the result of its failure to examine what is really happening in the Negro world—its failure indeed, for that matter, to seize upon what is happening in the world at large.”

It is this precarious position, caught between exciting change and an increasingly impotent status quo, that King finds himself in, and the inspiration for the title of the essay. Baldwin writes that, “King has had an extraordinary effect in the Negro world, and therefore in the nation, and is now in the center of an extremely complex crossfire.” Similar to King, I believe Equal Exchange now finds itself in a similar position as we continue to seek new ways to effectively execute our mission.

Equal Exchange began in the spirit of leadership committed to the meaningful consideration and involvement of small farmers in all levels of global society through fairer trade practices. Indeed, King was “hideously struck” by the effects of this exclusion, having traveled to India in 1957 and witnessing tremendous poverty that he described to Baldwin “in great detail.”  In the 30 years that Equal Exchange has been in existence, the food system has continued to evolve in ways that perpetuate the marginalization of small farmers in the Global South.

Today, we are surrounded by food products that boast of “quality,” “safety,” and “sustainability.” These are incredibly important attributes to seek out, but we have grown accustomed to simply looking for a seal or certification associating these terms with the products we consume, and in the process their meanings have started to grow “dull.” This dullness, I believe, is similarly related to their inability to accurately reflect to consumers what it takes to produce goods that truly embody these characteristics.

It is easy to solely emphasize the myriad examples of what our food system does not currently get right. I do, however, feel that we are in the midst of exciting cultural transformation. Closing his essay, Baldwin leaves us with the following:
“For everything is changing, from our notion of politics to our notion of ourselves, and we are certain, as we begin history’s strangest metamorphosis, to undergo the torment of being forced to surrender far more than we ever realized we had accepted.”

Change can be daunting, but it is not something we have to endure in isolation. Equal Exchange’s business model boldly demonstrates the possibility of more collective and cooperative forms of engagement within our societal institutions. In a food industry rife with opportunity for transformation, we must resist the urge or tendency to let our work and our message grow dull.

As I scroll through my social media feeds this year, things feel different. In between quotes from King I see articles from Black Lives Matter and The Movement for Black Lives. I see collections of photos from friends and family commemorating the one year anniversary of the Women’s March, as well as the courage to declare #MeToo and “Time’s Up”. I double tap events held by members of my community organizing for immigration and prison reform. I experience chills at the fact that in the same place where King, as Baldwin describes, “found himself accused, before all the world, of having used and betrayed the people of Montgomery,” we now celebrate a demonstration of what is possible in the era of Trump when informed, empowered individuals show up and participate in the democratic process.

How we eat matters. The recalcitrance of old, bigoted norms and values can be surmounted. We do not have to stand idly by in the midst of a system producing calorically dense, nutritionally poor products via a network of ever-consolidating firms. It is possible to create a food system where we are not just defined as workers and consumers separated from producers. We can create alternative institutions that involve more ownership, citizenship, and partnership with one another in ways that are not rooted in subjugation and exploitation. The assassination of King in 1968 demonstrates just how perilous the work of striving for justice can be, but his legacy lives on and we continue to draw upon it for inspiration each January.

I am convinced that this year can be different, and I encourage you to join Equal Exchange in exploring the ways in which we can become more meaningfully committed to doing this work. Take a moment to explore more of the information about Equal Exchange available on our website. Read through some information about our producer partners, join the Action Forum community, or browse the webstore for a gift for someone who may be unfamiliar with our organization. Together, we can resolve to continue striving to create food products that are truly safe, of high quality, and produced in ways that are socially and ecologically sustainable all throughout the supply chain.

2017 Year in Review

As we begin 2018, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of the last year. We’re proud to have spent another year working to build a more equitable trade model and bring small farmer-grown products to more people around the country. We couldn’t do what we do without you. Thank you for your support of small farmers and alternative trade, year after year.

Watch the video below to hear some of our 2017 highlights.

Chocolate Recipes for Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day, do something extra sweet: give chocolate that supports small farmer co-ops! Our organic chocolate products (from baking cocoa to chocolate chips to decadent full-sized bars) are made with cacao sourced fairly and directly from co-ops in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Ecuador and Peru. We’re proud to partner with small-scale farmers to bring you truly special and delicious chocolate, perfect for gifting to that special someone.

Here are a few chocolate recipes that we think you’ll fall in love with!

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients
2 bars Equal Exchange Organic Ecuador Dark Chocolate bars, chopped into small pieces
½ c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Equal Exchange Organic Baking Cocoa, for coating

Directions 
In a small saucepan, simmer the heavy cream over a low heat.

Place chopped chocolate in a separate bowl. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and let stand for a few minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth.
Let cool. Place bowl in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

When the chocolate mixture has solidified, use a teaspoon to roll out 1-inch balls. Roll them in your hands quickly to give them an even shape. Place rounded balls on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and let sit in the refrigerator for 8 hours (or overnight). Roll the chocolate balls in cocoa powder until evenly coated.

Keep the truffles refrigerated until ready to serve!

Yields 30-40 truffles

Adapted from simplyrecipes.com 

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached white pastry flour
1/3 cup Equal Exchange Organic Baking Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

Directions
In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and form into a thick dough. If the dough is soft, wrap it in plastic and chill for 1/2 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a baking sheet. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with confectioners sugar, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the centers of the cookies are firm. With a spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

These crisp chocolate wafers may be rolled out and cut into shapes suitable for any festivity. Store the cookies in a tin with a tight-fitting lid to keep them fresh. (Yields 18)

From the Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites, published by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1996.

Raspberry Truffle Brownies

Ingredients

Brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 cup Equal Exchange Organic Baking Cocoa
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup raspberry jam
1 teaspoon raspberry flavor (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped up Equal Exchange Organic Dark Chocolate bars)
Raspberry Fudge Glaze

1/4 cup raspberry jam
3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped up Equal Exchange Organic Dark Chocolate bars)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon raspberry flavor (optional)

Directions
In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar, cocoa, salt, jam and flavoring. Stir in the flour, eggs, and chips. Pour batter into a lightly greased 13 X 9 inch pan, spreading till level. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 28 to 32 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. (Note: It takes a few minutes longer than this in my oven!) The brownies will look slightly wobbly in the middle. Cool them for 1 hour before glazing.

Combine all the glaze ingredients, cook over low heat, or in the microwave, until the chocolate and butter are melted. Stir until smooth, and spread over the bars. Cool for several hours before cutting the brownies with a knife that you have run under hot water.

Yields 24 servings

From Laurie Flarity-White, promoter of small farmers through the UMCOR Coffee Project with First United Methodist Church in Wenatchee, Washington.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Ingredients
Strawberries
2 bars of Equal Exchange chocolate (any variety, but we used Organic Very Dark 71%)

Directions
1. Wash your strawberries without removing the stems.
2. Chop your chocolate.
3. Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer over medium heat.
4. Place your chocolate in a heatproof medium sized bowl and place that over the saucepan.
5. Allow the chocolate to soften and stir until melted.
6. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat. Dip strawberries in the chocolate, then lift and twist slightly to allow excess chocolate to fall back into the bowl.
7. Place the strawberries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow the chocolate to set for 30 minutes.
8. Serve or refrigerate, then share with your sweetheart.

Your Stories: Highlights of 2017

We’re extremely proud of the work that our customers are doing to advance food justice, environmental sustainability and human rights in their communities and around the world. These highlights from 2017 were shared by some of our dedicated supporters.

Patty Sanders, Hunger Action Enabler, Presbytery of the Redwoods in Northern California    “The Pedal for Protein bike ride raises funds for often-lacking protein food at local Northern California food pantries. The 4th annual September ride was a 6 day ride traversing the coast, redwoods and wine country in Northern California, concluding in Santa Rosa with a one day ride for riders of all abilities and 59 eager riders. This year we raised over $45,000, all donated to food banks for free, healthy protein for food pantries. Many of our pantries are in rural areas of Northern California and many other areas devastated by the October wildfires. We also fund a international grant through the  Presbyterian Hunger Program for a hunger justice project. Equal Exchange donated to our rider “swag bag” and provided our host churches with coffee, tea and chocolate. We also sell Equal Exchange coffee, tea and chocolate at our Pedal for Protein promotion Sundays all summer, at Presbytery meetings and Holiday Fair Trade Fairs at local churches.”

Sara Pirtle, Student Alliance for Global Health at University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE    “Our Student Alliance for Global Health has been selling Equal Exchange products since 2001! We use the sale proceeds to help support our annual medical service trips to Nicaragua, Jamaica, and a Native American reservation. In May we took a service trip to Nicaragua. The accompanying photo is of two of our physical therapy students working with a handicapped child at an orphanage, under the supervision of the orphanage’s physical therapist. Our students appreciate, and so do our customers, that our fundraiser helps empower small farmers and growers’ cooperatives and also supports our efforts to improve healthcare in impoverished communities while providing valuable cross-cultural training to our students. A win-win for everyone.”

Paula Rosenberg, The Women’s Club of Albany, NY    “In January, The Women’s Club of Albany was delighted to have Equal Exchange chocolates to accompany Ellen Messer’s excellent discussion of “The Culinary and Cultural History of Chocolate.” Ellen skillfully guided the audience on how to bite, savor, taste, smell, and evaluate the components of each of the chocolates provided. For many, this was their first experience in realizing the complexities of various chocolates. Ellen’s presentation was also the first time many had heard about the history, process, and socio-political consequences of chocolate production. I believe there was a good shift among many to understand what they can do to support fair and humanitarian farming and trade.”

JenJoy Roybal is an artist living in Brooklyn and does communications for Episcopal Relief & Development      “Last February I took a trip to Nicaragua with Equal Exchange ​led by​ the Unitarian Universalist  College of Social Justice.​ Our delegation met with a number of groups including the all-women’s cooperative FEM in Esteli and Palacaguina. We had a chance to do a  home stay with the Cooperativo Zacarias Padilla in the mountainous village of Quibuto, one of many small farmer groups rolling their harvest up into what becomes Equal Exchange coffee. I always look out for the fair trade label on products and make an effort to support commerce that is holistic and just, but seeing a label and believing intentions is far from actually following the winding journey it takes to embody those intentions and coming to an understanding of what it truly entails. I learned that despite the many complexities involved in pursuit of this vision, that Equal Exchange is committed to fair trade on every level.”

Amy Meredith, Clinical Professor in Speech and Hearing Sciences for Washington State University, Spokane, WA     “I’ve been selling Equal Exchange products to raise money for the speech therapy materials we brought to Guatemala to provide rehabilitation services. We raised about $3,000 selling fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate, which has allowed us to buy Spanish children’s books, special feeding spoons and cups, Guatemalan sign language books, low tech alternative augmentative communication tools, assessment materials, and many other items that help communication, cognition, and feeding. We see children and adults with a variety of disorders, such as autism, developmental delay, aphasia, apraxia, dysphagia, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and cleft lip and palate. This photo is of a mom we worked with who has severe cleft lip and palate. Although the surgeons repaired her palate, she will not have good speech due to the age of repair and the inability to correct her jaw position. Hence, her speech is quiet and a lot of air comes out of her nose. Her husband is elderly with severe hearing loss. Our solution was to make her a picture communication book, since she is illiterate, and a Guatemalan sign language book, that we customized with pictures, so that reading the words for each sign would not be an issue. We love the people we serve. They feed our souls.”

Claudia Moore, West Highlands UMC, Kennewick, WA     “This year we ordered our first shipment of Equal Exchange products for our church. I chair the Missions Committee at West Highlands United Methodist Church. We were given a $5,000 gift from the death of a member. We didn’t want to just “use” the money and have it gone, so we decided to make the gift sustainable and multifaceted by supporting farmers and workers through Fair Trade and Equal Exchange, educate our church members and be able to continue that process with each item we sell and replenish. Our congregation is really enjoying the Equal Exchange products. We look forward to expanding our sharing.” 

 

Fall Fundraising 2017: Photo Gallery

5th Grade Class

Congratulations to all of the groups who ran a successful fundraiser this fall! We are excited to share some customer photos from this fundraising season. Thank you to all those who participated and supported small farmers and authentic Fair Trade through your efforts!

 

Photos submitted by Jessica Swan, the fundraising organizer at Cien Aguas International School.

Photos taken by Pam Barclay and Anne Pacheco from St. Martin of Tours Academy.

 

 

Happy Holidays from Equal Exchange

We hope this holiday season is filled with warmth and joy for you and your community. In honor of the tradition of sharing food and celebrating with friends and family, we’re sharing a few of our own tried-and-true holiday recipes, submitted by Equal Exchangers around the country. From old family traditions to inventive new favorites, we hope you enjoy this collection of our personal holiday dishes!

Slice of Pecan Pie
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Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie

Submitted by LeeAnn Harrington
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Chocolate, Pecan
Servings 8

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare pie dough either from scratch using your favorite recipe or use a store bought, ready-to-bake pie dough.

  3. Once the dough is placed in the pie dish, using a fork, prick small holes along the bottom part of the pie dough. Place in the heated oven for about 20 minutes or until just turning slightly brown. Take out of the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. In a saucepan over low heat, or in a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate chips. Set aside.
  5. In a large mixing bowl whisk together eggs and brown sugar until fully incorporated. Add vanilla, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Dark Kayro Syrup to fully blended. Stir in chopped pecans and melted chocolate chips and butter mixture. Set aside.
  6. Remove the chocolate bar from the package, reserving 5 – 7 pieces for topping the pie. Chop the remaining chocolate bar into small pieces and place in the bottom of the baked pie crust. Pour the egg, sugar and chocolate mixture over to fill the pie dish.
  7. Using the ¼ cup pecan halves, place them in a decorative manner around the edge of the pie dish, with 3 – 5 in the center. Place the reserved 5 – 7 pieces of chocolate around the pecan halves in the center of the pie.
  8. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Check the pie after this amount of time, and place foil around the edges to protect the crust from turning too brown. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes or until done. Check for doneness by gently and carefully shaking the oven rack to see if the pie mixture giggles. If it still giggles, then it is not done yet.
  9. Once the pie is done, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to rest for 20 – 30 minutes before cutting into serving pieces.

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Dark Chocolate Merlot Cookies

Submitted by Jenica Caudill, Sales Representative. She says "The joy of sneaking brownie batter and chocolate chip cookie dough while baking these are combined here. Also, you have an excuse to drink wine while baking (if you needed one). Not to mention their rich, dark, color makes them immediately awe-worthy at parties!"
Course Dessert
Keyword Chocolate, Cookies, Wine
Servings 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups Baking Cocoa
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Merlot
  • 10 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

Instructions

  1. Combine, the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and Merlot. Once combined, gradually add in the dry ingredients from the medium bowl. Mix well as you go. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips. Place rounded tablespoons of dough onto a prepared baking pan, leaving two inches or so in between.
  3. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Let cool slightly before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Let cool slightly, then tranfser to a wire rack.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Simply Scratch.

 

Sevi Alvarez enjoying a plate of Susan's latkes
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Latkes for Chanukah

Submitted by Susan Sklar. She says "I keep my latkes simple and always serve them hot."
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Jewish

Ingredients

  • ​4 russet potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 1 white or yellow onion quartered
  • 2 eggs quickly whisked
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbs flour or cornstarch for gluten free​. ​
  • peanut oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut potatoes and onions in small enough chunks to place in Cuisinart or other food processor. Use the shredder blade.
  2. Mix with all other ingredients.
  3. Squeeze out extra moisture from mixture with a paper towel or cheesecloth. ​
  4. Heat oil ​until a few sh​r​eds of potatoes sizzle when you throw them in. ​
  5. Cook latkes, watching carefully to keep them from burning, about 5-6 minutes on each side. Keep monitoring the temperature of the burner so that the latkes don't cook too quickly.
  6. When they're cooked, let them drain on paper towels on a plate to remove the excess oil. ​
  7. ​Serve with applesauce, sour cream, yogurt, etc.

 

Holiday Recipe Ideas

Now that the fundraising is over and your kitchen is stocked with fairly traded ingredients, it’s time to get cooking! Here are six recipes that will impress your holiday guests or shine at the party potluck!

Recipes the Whole Family will Love

Chocolate Sugar Cookies: A classic, delicious dessert. Make them festive by using holiday cookie cutters!

  • 1/3 cup Organic Baking Cocoa
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and form into a thick dough. If the dough is soft, wrap it in plastic and chill for 1/2 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a baking sheet. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with confectioners sugar, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the centers of the cookies are firm. With a spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

These crisp chocolate wafers may be rolled out and cut into shapes suitable for any festivity. Store the cookies in a tin with a tight-fitting lid to keep them fresh. (Yields 18)

From the Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites, published by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1996.

 

Classic Love Cocoa: Stay warm this holiday season with our delicious hot cocoa recipe.

  • Organic Baking Cocoa
  • Milk
  • Sugar

Fill your mug with your milk of choice – pour milk into a pot. Add 1 heaping Tbsp. of both high-quality sugar and Equal Exchange Organic Baking Cocoa (or to taste). Whisk together.

Place on stove on low heat, constantly stirring with whisk. Do not let boil or stick the bottom of pot. When it’s hot enough for your taste and all has been dissolved, pour into mug and enjoy!

Lilla Woodham, Equal Exchange Customer Service Representative and a professional baker, shares this traditional recipe

Holiday Recipe Ideas

 

Brownies: Always a favorite! Make your favorite brownie recipe even better with Equal Exchange chocolate.

  • 1/4 c. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 bar Organic Milk Chocolate (or 12 Organic Milk Chocolate Minis)
  • 10 Organic Milk Chocolate Minis (or 1 bar Organic Milk Chocolate broken into small pieces)
  • 1/3 c. Organic Baking Cocoa
  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) butter
  • 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch baking pan.

Melt butter and the 1 large chocolate bar in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until smooth. Add olive oil. Remove from heat, cool to lukewarm. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, beat well, until mixture is thoroughly mixed and glossy.

Stir remaining ingredients into the chocolaty mix.

Pour batter in pan and even out. Insert the minis into the batter at an angle in a spoke or other even pattern. Cover with a thin layer of batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a fork/knife/toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.

Yields 9 generous servings.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes: Have family staying over for the holiday? Start the morning with festive cheer by whipping up our favorite pancakes.

  • ½ c. Organic Bittersweet or Organic Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 ½ c. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ c. milk
  • ½ c. Equal Exchange bananas, mashed (check your local food co-op!)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix milk, banana, egg and vanilla until well combined. Stir into the bowl of dry ingredients. Add in ¼ cup of the chocolate chips.

Spray your griddle with cooking oil and place over medium heat. Pour batter onto the griddle into the pancake size you desire.

Cook for about 2 minute, or until the tops begin to bubble. Then, flip the pancake and cook for another minute or until golden. Work your way through the batter, reapplying cooking spray as needed.

Top your pancakes with more chocolate chips and serve.

Adapted from Food.com

Holiday Recipe Ideas

Recipes your Friends and Colleagues will Love

Extra-Special Chili: In charge of bringing an appetizer to the party? Try out our chili recipe, created by one of our customer service representatives!

  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Organic ground coffee (not prepared): 3 – 6 tablespoons (depending on size of Sauce Pot!). The coffee goes especially well with chili that has meat in it.
  • Organic Spicy Hot Cocoa. The great thing about our Spicy Hot Cocoa is that it does NOT have milk in it, so the chili can be vegan but you can add ground turkey or beef, too. You should taste-test it several times as you are adding something with a nice, spicy kick!
  • Sugar

Use your regular recipe for the chili base. As you near the end of cooking your chili, add any of the products with either the suggested serving sizes, or be creative and adapt to how much chili you are making and what you like.

Amount to add:

10 – 12 people = about 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons

15 – 20 people = about 3 to 4 heaping tablespoons

25 – 30 people = about 5 or so heaping tablespoons, depending on your taste

Shared by Phil Berry, Equal Exchange Customer Service Representative.

Mint Chocolate Filled Cupcakes: A dessert that is both refreshing and sweet! Stand out from all of the other cupcakes at the dessert table.

For the batter:

  • 1/2 cup Organic Baking Cocoa
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla

For the filling:

  • 1 bar Organic Mint Chocolate, chopped finely
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

For the frosting:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Batter: Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda) and then add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Mix well. Put cupcake papers in a muffin tin and fill 1/2 full with the batter.

For Filling: Cream together cream cheese, egg, sugar, and salt, and stir in chocolate. Put a spoonful of filling into center of each cup of batter.

Bake at 350F / 180C for about 25 minutes.

While cupcakes are baking, whip up the frosting. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy.Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Frost the cupcakes after they’ve had time to fully cool.

Makes about 32 cupcakes. Contributed by Katie Hanson, Davenport, IA from a 1960s church cookbook in North Dakota.

Holiday Recipe Ideas

Products in red are Equal Exchange products.

Adapted from equalexchange.coop/recipes. 

 

 

Palestinian Olive Oil: The Struggle to Build Markets for Small Farmers Under Occupation

Last month, we traveled to the West Bank to visit our Palestinian suppliers of organic extra virgin olive oil. At Equal Exchange, we are more than familiar with the daunting challenges and obstacles confronting cooperatives of small farmers growing coffee, cacao, and many other products. To those, we need to add all the constraints of physical movement and access to water that are everyday realities for Palestinian farmers given the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. As we met with farmers, technicians, leaders and students, and toured facilities over the several days of our visit, we were thoroughly impressed by the scope of initiatives managed by our counterpart, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC).

What follows is a sharing of what we learned during our October visit, first some observations on the general climate in which Palestinians (especially farmers) live, then a bit more on PARC and the compelling projects they are carrying out.

A woman tosses olives in the air.
Hana’a Musef sifts out leaves and stems after an olive harvest at her family’s grove.

Overview

The odds are stacked against Palestinian farmers. They work land that is dry as a bone and is getting more arid due to climate change. Sixty five percent of Palestinians in the West Bank live in rural areas. Many families in those areas own olive trees but the groves are relatively small and generally contribute to only a portion of a family’s income. Though trees are able to produce olives with very little water, other crops such as wheat, almonds, and dates are limited due the severe water shortage limits imposed by the climate and by the Israeli government.

The water supply for the West Bank is only available through water mains a few times a week on an unpredictable schedule. There are restrictions enforced by the Israelis on how much rainfall can be collected. Reusing and treating waste water is restricted, as is digging wells. There is also a discrepancy in the amount of daily water usage depending upon who you are. There are currently about 2.6 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and about 700,000 Jewish settlers living there. If you are Palestinian, your allotment of water is 75 liters per person per day; if you are an Israeli Jew, living in a settlement, your allotment is 300-350 liters of water per day (over four times as much). Settlers are allowed to consume more water and pay less money for it. Without water and land you can’t talk about development in the West Bank. If agricultural projects could expand with increased water, PARC estimates that it could help provide 200,000 more jobs for Palestinians.

The construction of the barrier wall separating the West Bank and Israel which began in 2003 has created countless obstacles for olive farmers. Not only did the wall itself annex large swaths of the West Bank, it also separated many farmers from their groves. Limited access times at the wall, compounded by the numerous checkpoints throughout the West Bank, prevents farmers from being able to employ the kind of agricultural practices that would maximize yields—and incomes. In addition, every year there are attacks by settlers on farmers during the harvest.

Finally, it’s impossible for Palestinian trucks to gain direct access to seaports or airports. So they must unload their trucks to be loaded by Israeli trucks at the checkpoints on the other side of the barrier. This business has become so expensive and cumbersome that the number of Palestinian trucks carrying produce and other goods destined for export has dropped from 25,000 to 10,000. There are also very few refrigerated trucks and storage facilities for perishable crops.  Very concretely for Equal Exchange, these increased costs make Palestinian olive oil far less competitively priced than we would like, meaning we can’t sell as much of their oil as we would very much like to do.

PARC’s primary mission is to provide hope for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza: economic sustainability and independence for people who are displaced and severely restricted. The NGO has been dedicated to working with Palestinian farmers since the 1980s and predates the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Agriculture, which was established after the Oslo Accords in 1993. PARC works with 40 agricultural cooperatives made of 20-80 members. Building on relationships we established in our first trip in 2011, we came back from this recent visit with even more respect for PARC’s vision and its tangible approaches to creating economic opportunities for so many. Here are PARC projects that we visited in the West Bank.

thyme growing
Thyme growing in Jenin to be used in za’atar, a blend of three spices used for cooking.

Olive Oil Press

We visited a modern olive oil press at the Mazare’ Al Noubani cooperative near Salfeet. There are 86 members of the co-op who use the press, plus four other groups that pay a fee for its use during harvest season, which lasts 6-8 weeks. During this period the press is open 24 hours a day to receive sacks of olives from farmers’ trucks.

PARC was able to secure a bank loan to purchase the Italian machinery used at the press on terms. It will gradually pay off the loans when it receives fees from farmers after the harvest; then it will finish constructing the building. Funds for the press building came from Oxfam, the Palestinian Farmers Union, the French Palestinian Solidarity Association, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

We viewed the process from beginning to end. Olives are ideally pressed for oil within an hour of being harvested. The olives get a quick wash and branches and leaves are removed. Heated water is added to make the olive mash easier to crush, but the press temperature can’t be higher than 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the oil, water and pits must be separated out. A good olive tree produces about 16-20 liters of oil.

It’s an energy efficient system as well. The pumice (from the olive pits) is used to fuel the boiler and to heat the water. The olive oil is pumped into stainless steel holding tanks at the press. Finally, it is labeled and sent to PARC’s bottling station at its headquarters in Ramallah. Equal Exchange purchases about 25,000 bottles of extra virgin olive oil each season from PARC.

We learned about the “We Are With You” campaign, in which volunteers serve as witnesses to offer Palestinian farmers protection while they harvest their olives near the wall. PARC has helped to organize these volunteers for the past 15 years. They come from a range of countries, such as Australia, France and Canada, and stay in farmers’ houses for 1-2 weeks at their own expense.

A man sips from a cup
Mohammad Hmidat, Al Reef Quality Assurance Manager, samples fresh olive oil at the press.

Almond Cooperative

We met Nabeel Munmod Abu Ara, the head of the Aqqaba Almond Cooperative in Jenin. The co-op has 87 members, 57 of whom grow almonds, an initiative that began 10 years ago. Three out of the nine members of the Administrative Commission and 19 members of the co-op are women.

Almond trees were introduced by PARC as a part of a pilot land reclamation project. Now there are more than 200 hectares of trees. To prepare the land, the farmers had to remove rocks from the soil, built retaining walls, compost, and added other organic soil supplements. As the farmers started investing in their trees, they saw that it was a feasible business. In Jenin, unemployment is 15 percent below the national average (versus 27 percent overall in the West Bank and 44 percent in Gaza) partly due to the Arab-American University of Jenin, its student body of 12,000 students, and the resulting higher level of education in the area.

There is, however, a serious shortage of rainfall in the area, and farmers need supplemental irrigation for the trees. December through March is the rainy season. However, this past year the last day of rain was February 20. Nabeel experimented with irrigation in March and July and the productivity of the trees more than doubled the output. He had to purchase the additional water, increasing costs considerably.

A man stands in an arid field near some trees.
Nabeel Munmod Abu Ara, head of the Aqqaba Almond Cooperative in Jenin, shows the difference that irrigation makes. The almond trees on the left were part of a PARC project

Experimental Organic Farm

The Holy Land Cooperative in Zababdeh near Jenin is comprised of 28 men and eight women. PARC supported them on their transition to organic; and once they had initial crops, PARC helped them with marketing. The co-op has constructed a fish farm in a greenhouse; and the pond water is piped through the rest of the greenhouse and used as fertilizer for grapes, strawberries, and pineapples. This achieves four times more growth than plants grown in the ground; no water is wasted.

PARC has helped the cooperative to cultivate varieties of fruits and vegetables, such as cabbage and melons that are high in productivity quality. The cooperative also grows and dries thyme, which is an ingredient of the Middle Eastern spice blend called Za’atar, together with sesame seeds and sumac. They sell their organic produce and spices at the local market for better prices.

Women’s Couscous Cooperative

The Machtas Couscous Cooperative in Jericho started with a $2,500 loan from Al Reef, PARC’s  commercial and export arm. The building was given to them by PARC., and PARC’s staff trained the women to make couscous. It was a way to create jobs and to continue making a staple that is part of the Palestinian heritage. In the beginning there were 15 members, and today there are 30 members, from age 20 to 70. The co-op is structured as an open meeting with all members allowed to contribute to discussions and to help making decisions. Three women are elected to serve as the governance committee.

The women use a special black wheat that is produced in Jenin in two co-ops. Members order the quantity of wheat they need and run the operation. The women mix whole wheat flour and water by hand sitting on the ground in the traditional way, using a series of strainers. The wheat clusters are then steamed in an oven at 100 degrees for 25 minutes; afterwards they are dried. The process is like semi-cooking and gives the grain a shelf life of two years.

The co-op negotiates costs, prices and quantities. Income is tied to productivity, and members determine their own schedules, which can be very flexible. Most work from 7 a.m. to 12 noon. Then they return to their homes for family and social life. The work is virtually year round with December through February generally being down time. With Jericho serving as a key center for a lot of PARC / Al Reef production activity, the women are able to earn additional income in several other capacities including making the Za’atar spice mix and fumigating and shelling almonds. In September and October they work at the date-filling station. Co-op members rely upon PARC technicians for quality control, while promotion and markets are handled by Al Reef.

Three seated women bend over large bowls of grain
Women from the Machtas Cooperative make whole wheat couscous by hand in the traditional manner.

Date Filling Station

Before the 1993 Oslo Agreement, farmers in the West Bank were not allowed to grow Medjoul dates, due to unwanted competition with Israeli growers. When this law changed many farmers started growing Medjoul dates. This is an important crop for West Bank farmers since date palms can grow with some salination in the water—a phenomenon resulting from Israeli settlement pulling vast amounts of fresh water from the natural springs in Jericho. Palestinians on the West Bank are legally allowed to retrieve partially salinated well water (which is beneath the fresh water in wells). Dates are a crop that can bring in added income with scarce resources. In 1996-97, PARC purchased Medjoul date palms for $100 each and sold them to Palestinians for $20. In 2001, they produced just a few hundred pounds of dates. By 2009, the amount had increased to thousands and they needed a more modern filling station to wash, dry, sort and pack the dates. They have a beautiful new plant with sophisticated and more computerized systems.

Uniformed workers examine dates on a conveyer belt
Medjoul dates are sorted for size at the date filling center in Jericho.

 

Dates are another crop like olives with a short harvest season: mid-September to the end of October. The dates are received and sent to be dried and fumigated for 72 hours. They are sorted by weight and by the quality of their skin. The plant also makes date paste and date molasses. The line sorters are the women from the couscous cooperative who work shifts during the date harvesting season.

Three people smile in front of a palm tree
Left to right: Al Reef General Manager Saleem Abu Ghazaleh, Susan Sklar and Rob Everts, near date palms at the filling station in Jericho.

Agronomist Training Centers

PARC has two agronomist training centers for college graduates who spend a year practicum in agriculture (PA), which is completely subsidized by PARC. When the PA began in 1995, PARC wanted to train fresh agronomists after they graduated from four or five-year programs from the university. They created ways to provide hands-on training for them through the centers. The government of Luxemborg supported this effort and built the academy in Jericho three years ago.

Over the last 20 years they have expanded their focus to dates, eggs and dairy products. Every year 40-50 students graduate. Half spend their time in Jericho, the other half are in Zabedi. Students get practice on animal farms, plant farms, and factories for agricultural projects. The agronomists choose a focus among different aspects of farming, such as soil or water. There are lectures in classes and two hours a day working on a site.

The PARC Agricultural Academies have graduated a total of 1,600 students. Eighty percent of the people who work in the PA’s Agricultural Ministry come from these centers. In fact, the current director graduated in 1997 from the center’s first class.

While part of the mission is to promote organic farming, what stood out most powerfully for us was the confidence that these young women and men gain from both the educational and social aspects of their year in training. With an overriding mission to build hope for the future among the Palestinians, PARC is, with good reason, deeply proud of this success.

A group of young men and women
Students from the PARC agronomist training center in Jericho.

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Holiday Gift Ideas

It’s easy to find fair trade holiday gifts for family and friends! Our gift boxes are pre-assembled and packed with delicious products that will fill any home with good cheer.

Explore our gift box selections below! We can help you decide which is the best gift to give the special people on your list.

Classic Gift Boxes

 

Equal Exchange Fundraising: Holiday Gift IdeasCrowd Pleaser Gift Box:

Enjoy a little of everything with this gift box of customer favorites. It includes some of our bestsellers in each product category and is perfect if you want to give a gift with variety.

Includes: 2 Chocolate Bars, 1 Coffee, 1 Tea, 1 Cocoa

“I ordered this product for my grandparents as a holiday gift and they were absolutely smitten! […] As for the products, they loved the presentation and variety available. This is something I would definitely recommend as an excellent gift for loved ones.”

-Webstore Review of the Crowd Pleaser Gift Box

 

Chocolate Bar Collection Box:

This one is for all the chocolate lovers in your life! Give them the gift of 9 different organic chocolate bars which range from our Milk Chocolate to Equal Exchange Fundraising: Holiday Gift Ideasour Extreme Dark Chocolate 88% bar. This box includes flavors like Mint and Almond, as well as customer favorites like our Dark and Milk Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt bars.

Includes: 7 Dark Chocolate Bars & 2 Milk Chocolate Bars

“I love dark chocolate in the 50-65% cacao range, and this gift box is perfect for that! I bought them for myself as a Christmas gift! Others I have gifted them to in the past have loved them, too!”

-Webstore Review of the Chocolate Bar Collection Box

 

Make your Own

Want to customize your gift boxes? There’s tons of potential to make the perfect gift for anyone! For inspiration, take a look at some of the baskets we put together.

Equal Exchange Fundraising: Holiday Gift Ideas

 

Fair Trade and Faith

Equal Exchange’s interfaith program highlights the connections between faith and Fair Trade in social-justice driven congregations around the country. We asked program participants from faith-based groups to share what drives them to support small-scale farmers and describe how their Fair Trade programs impact their own community at the same time. Read on to learn more about these inspiring organizers and communities!

Gary Estep, Trinity United Methodist in Chico, CA

“We at Trinity United Methodist Church have been selling Equal Exchange coffee, tea and chocolate for several years now. Since UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief) is associated with Equal Exchange, it was a natural fit for us.

Profits generated from our sales support our outreach program to assist those in the community who are transitioning from homelessness to under a roof. We have helped two single moms who found themselves homeless, at no fault of their own, and a young woman who had been living in a shelter but wanted to enroll in college. She needed $500 to move into a dorm at the college and we were able to give that to her.

We’re also donating to a local shelter for teens and young adults who have found themselves homeless because of difficult home situations and inability to find employment sufficient to meet their needs. We accumulated over $1,000 over the past several years and are so pleased that we have been able to make a difference for these individuals in our community. Besides, the products are wonderful and our church members appreciate the quality we can offer them through Equal Exchange participation.”

Nancy Hoatson, Hershey United Methodist Church, Hershey, Nebraska

“I have been using Equal Exchange products since 2004, when I went to a church conference and started purchasing them there. In 2008 I went to a conference workshop that was about setting up Equal Exchange sales in your hometown church. At the time, we were planning a mission trip to Africa and so I set up a Mission Store and stocked coffee, tea, dried fruits, and chocolate. I marked up the items a tiny bit and the profits went to our Mission Fund. For several years after the African mission we have supported African children’s education with the profits from the Mission Store and now, for the last 4 years, we have supported Imagine No Malaria with our Fair Trade sale profits.

I especially enjoy using the tea, coffee and chocolate, and so does my congregation. Many use them for special meaningful gifts. I’ve presented in area churches educating others on the mission of Equal Exchange, as fairly traded products help individuals, families and communities develop schools and medical care for entire villages.”

Jeanette Ruyle of UU Society of Grafton and Upton, Grafton, MA

“The Unitarian Universalist Society of Grafton and Upton in Grafton, MA, has been purchasing Equal Exchange Fair Trade coffee for at least the past ten years to serve at our Sunday social hour. Not only is it delicious, buying Fair Trade coffee is a simple way for congregants to practice social justice. Our Unitarian Universalist principles include working toward the goal of peace, liberty, and justice for all.

Seven years ago, our religious education program for children started hosting a Fair Trade sale table at our annual town winter holidays fair. The children learn what “Fair Trade” means, particularly in regards to Fair Trade chocolate. They hear that people can be social justice activists by the way they decide to purchase goods such as chocolate, coffee, tea, and more. Even if children cannot buy these things themselves, they can be aware of what is happening and they can actually teach their parents and family members! As we have kept up this effort, it is gratifying to see older children who have been with us for a while explain Fair Trade to the younger ones and why we are doing what we do.”

Molly Zeff, Brooklyn, NY

Molly, pictured left, worked at Equal Exchange from 2010 to 2014 before moving on to study social enterprise/nonprofit management in an MBA program.

“What would your life be like if you got to work at a job every day that reflected your religion’s deeply held values? I had the opportunity to experience that perfect match while working in Community Sales at Equal Exchange, where the Fair Trade mission offered a way to act upon Jewish values.

The main value I’m referring to comes from one of Judaism’s greatest sages, Maimonedes: the highest level of tzedekah – often translated as “charity” but from the root word “tzedek” (justice) – is to give someone a gift or interest-free loan; enter into a business partnership; or find the person a job, so that they are not dependent upon charity. This teaching from Hebrew School helped guide my career search: although I knew from age 14 that I wanted to work on poverty, there are countless ways to do so, and my religious background taught me to focus on economic empowerment. Through working with congregations that sell and serve fairly traded products, I found a powerful way to pursue that path.

I’m a new member of three lay-led Jewish communities in Brooklyn, NY, and the buying club I’m starting will span multiple Jewish communities. I’m excited to introduce new and old friends to Equal Exchange!”

 

Stephanie Line of First Christian Church, Galesburg, IL

“Our church has a long-time relationship with the Democratic Republic of Congo and our sister church in Mbandaka, DRC. Our goal is to support New City Church of Mbandaka and their ministries. What a blessing Equal Exchange Congo Coffee has been to our efforts!

Once a month, we serve Congo Coffee at our Fellowship Time. The love offering taken becomes part of the funds sent to our sister church to support micro-credit education for women, school uniform/supply programs, livestock projects and clean water/well construction. The ripple effect of serving Equal Exchange coffee is amazing! Purchasing Organic Congo Coffee benefits Panzi Hospital, Fair Trade farmers, Disciples of Christ: Week of Compassion and New City church of the DRC.

We are proud to say, ‘Our coffee has never been so strong!’”