The beginning of a new school year is a busy time for any parent. From adjusting back into your normal routine to making sure your kids are prepared for school, sports, and other extracurricular activities, it is guaranteed to get a bit overwhelming! Why not eliminate some of that stress by planning your fall fundraiser now? It is never too early to start! At your next PTA or committee meeting, pitch Equal Exchange’s fundraiser with these helpful tips:
1. Introduce the program in an exciting and engaging way. How do you encourage your group to choose an Equal Exchange fundraiser instead of the boring popcorn, holiday gift wrap, or cookie dough fundraiser you normally run? Start by showing them our new video: Who We Are and What We Believe In. This will introduce your group to Equal Exchange and give them a better understanding of what we’re all about. Next, explain the unique benefits of fundraising with Equal Exchange by presenting this Prezi!
2. Have our fundraising catalog on hand. Bring our 2015-2016 catalog to the meeting so your group can get a better idea of the quality and variety of the products that we offer through our program. You can request a free catalog by filling out our prospect form, which can be found on the right hand side of our Fundraising page.
3. Share samples. This is the most effective way to get the rest of your group on board. By having samples at the meeting, your committee can experience firsthand the incredible quality and delicious taste of our products. Brew a pot of our Mind, Body, and Soul Coffee and offer pieces of our Dark Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt. Having samples available will make a huge difference!
For a limited time, we are offering a 50% discount on our Organic Foods Variety Pack! Shop here and use the code ORGANIC16 to access this discount.
4. Bring the story behind the products to life. At the core of Equal Exchange is our relationship with small farmers. We work directly with over 40 small farmer co-operatives in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to bring you amazing products. This fundraiser is a meaningful, age-appropriate way to introduce or further educate your children on a multitude of issues, ranging from conscious consumerism to environmental sustainability. We have a variety of videos from our trips as well as different educational resources on our website, which can be found here. Show one or two of these resources to your committee to highlight the educational aspects of our program as well as to emphasize the impact that running a Fair Trade fundraiser will have on your local community and farming communities around the globe.
If you would like more ideas or support please give us a call at (774) 776-7366. We also recommend that you join our Facebook group, where you can share tips, questions, and best practices with other fundraising coordinators!
Adapted from Taste of Home
Adapted from Taste of Home
Peter Buck is a Senior Representative of the Interfaith & Community Sales program at Equal Exchange. This blog post is part of an ongoing series of reflections on the relationship between Fair Trade and Catholic teachings.
Pope Francis’ trip to Mexico, and particularly his visit to the state of Chiapas, reminded me of one of my visits there, when I saw how God transmits social teaching to His people.
Formal Catholic Social Teaching is defined by a set of Papal documents, starting with Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical on the condition of the working class, Rerum Novarum. Ultimately, however, it originates in how God speaks to us in scripture. On a trip to Mexico, I saw how God transmits social teaching to a group of His people there.
In 2008, I led a delegation of our church customers to visit coffee farmers in the Mexican state of Chiapas. We were guests in the village of La Ceiba, and on our first night we were surprised to be greeted with a brass band, speeches of welcome, and a Catholic liturgy led by a local deacon.
The reading was from the book of the prophet Amos. In the eighth chapter Amos delivers God’s warning to those who act unjustly toward the poor, in this case unscrupulous grain merchants in ancient Palestine:
For the farmers of La Ceiba this reading isn’t symbolic, it’s a precise description of how they have been cheated for generations.
Before they formed a cooperative, the farmers had only one buyer for their coffee beans—the same plantation owner whose land they used to till as debt peons. At harvest, if they took a 60 kilogram bag of coffee to the buyer, it would only weigh 55 kilograms on the buyer’s “fraudulently-tampered” scale; on top of that, the buyer would offer a low price, “buying up the weak for silver.”
With the help of their Bishop these farmers formed the CIRSA cooperative and ultimately found Fair Trade buyers like Equal Exchange who would weigh their coffee honestly and pay an adequate, stable price. The farmers of La Ceiba were happy to welcome us with a brass band, speeches and some instruction in Catholic Social Teaching.
As conscientious consumers, many of us look for the “organic” label when shopping. While we know that organic products have certain benefits, the extent of those benefits isn’t always obvious. When it comes to organic tea and conventional tea, you might ask: what’s the real difference? What makes organic tea a smarter choice than conventional tea, and why does it matter for you? Here are three reasons to feel good about choosing to buy and drink organic tea.
1. Organic means no chemicals. One of the clearest distinctions between organic tea and conventional tea is that organic tea is grown without the use of chemicals fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. These chemicals have well-documented harmful effects on the environment, farmers and consumers who may ingest residues. Conventional tea-growing methods may maximize production in the short term, but there is a serious environmental and human cost.
Choosing organic tea, on the other hand, means supporting growing methods like plant- and microorganism-based natural fertilizers and pest deterrents, which are safer for the environment and for the farmers who work on the land. The benefit to you? No chemicals end up in your cup!
2. Equal Exchange organic tea is grown on biodiverse small-scale farms, while conventional tea comes from mono-cropped plantations. Small-scale farmers promote biodiversity by using organic and biodynamic farming methods, allowing wildlife and local flora to flourish alongside tea farming. Since conventional tea is farmed in a way that prioritizes mass production in the short term, it is grown on large-scale plantations dedicated solely to growing tea. These plantations overtake large pieces of land, eliminating any variety of plant and animal life. Mono-cropping strips the soil of nutrients, destroys forests and leaves wildlife with no place to thrive. In the long term, this is is unsustainable and creates lasting damage to the land.
3. Equal Exchange organic tea is grown by small-scale farmers who belong to democratic co-operatives. Co-op membership and land ownership empower farmers, support healthy communities and strengthen local economies. Choosing small farmer-grown organic tea means choosing more than just a farming method – it’s a way to support an entire alternative system of production.
Conventional tea, grown with mass production in mind, relies on the plantation model – which is not only bad for the environment, but bad for farmers, too. This notoriously exploitative system disempowers workers, subjecting them to unsafe living and working conditions in the name of profits for plantation owners.
The differences between organic and conventional tea are extensive, and that’s just the beginning! You can do your part to support our environment, healthy farmers and stronger communities by choosing small farmer-grown organic tea whenever you shop.
Not sure where to start? Check out Equal Exchange’s full line of organic, small farmer-grown teas.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Melt butter and dark chocolate together in the microwave and whisk until smooth. Cool the mixture to room temperature. Beat brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla and eggs until well combined. Pour in cooled chocolate and mix evenly. Sift together flour, baking cocoa, cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne pepper and salt.
Add dry ingredients to chocolate batter and mix until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Make balls out of the dough and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 14 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheet and let cool.
Yields 8-10 servings
Whisk together the half-n-half, cocoa, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 cup of the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended.
Chill mixture completely (I put it in an ice bath in the fridge) then get out your ice cream maker! I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer with the ice cream maker attachment which was pre-frozen. Once the mixture is chilled, pour it into the ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. It took about 30 minutes in the mixer to get the right consistency.
While the base is mixing in the mixer, take another 1/2 cup peanut butter and about 3 tablespoons of sugar and blend thoroughly. Add more or less sugar to your liking. When the mixer has done its magic, heat the peanut butter and sugar until just warm. Pour the mixture into your chocolate ice cream and fold in. This will chill into wonderful ribbons of peanut butter goodness! Eat immediately if you like a softer ice cream otherwise chill in freezer for a few hours.
Yields 8 servings
Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
And Dinner and Desert, a blog by Erin Busch
The good news: there really aren’t rules when it comes to pairing chocolate and wine. Everyone’s taste preferences are different. In other words, YOU GET TO TRY EVERYTHING. The bad news: we’re talking about chocolate and wine! No bad news here. (Just make sure you drink responsibly.)
Since part of the fun is trying different combinations and seeing what you like best, a chocolate and wine pairing can be a fun activity to plan with your sweetie or a group of friends – especially around Valentine’s Day! And, you can make it as informal or formal as you want. For example, you could get a selection of chocolates and wines and casually try various ones, or you can make a tasting scorecard and record your pairing flavor notes as you go.
Here are some general tips when pairing chocolate and wine:
Begin by breaking the chocolate into squares and putting them into a ceramic or glass bowl. Placing your hands on the bottom of the bowl, bring your nose to the rim of the bowl and inhale deeply to experience the aroma. If you’re using a tasting scorecard, write down your thoughts.
Pour the wine into glass or plastic cups. Much like smelling the chocolate samples, bring your nose to the rim of the cup to smell the aroma and write down your thoughts.
Begin by taking one square of chocolate and put it into your mouth. Chew the chocolate slowly, allowing it to coat your tongue until it has partially melted. Think about the flavors and textures you are experiencing. Then, take a sip of your wine and note how the flavors interact. Write down your thoughts or share them with the other participants in the tasting. Take your time and taste the combination again. Did anything change? Are there new flavors emerging?
I got our Chocolate Tasting Panel (yeah, that’s a thing) together to do some “research.”
We purchased a variety of wines, all in the $12-$19 per bottle range:
And gathered eight Equal Exchange chocolates, ranging in flavors and intensities:
We had a lot of favorites…
Have fun and let us know your favorite pairings in the comments!
At the end of every year, we reflect on the accomplishments, challenges, developments and memorable moments that have helped us grow. Here are a just a few of the highlights from 2015, which we’re so proud to share with you all – and which we couldn’t have done without your support!
1. Over 7.5 Million Pounds Sold!
Over the last year, you purchased a grand total of 5.8 million pounds of coffee, 64,500 pounds of tea and spices, 1.2 million pounds of cacao and 554,739 pounds of sugar from small-scale farmer co-ops around the world, benefitting hundreds of farmers, their families and their communities. Those are big numbers with a big real world impact for farmers.
2. Gender Equity Workshop in Nicaragua
Equal Exchange is a proud supporter of the Coffee Quality Institute’s Gender Equity program as a Sustaining Partner. In January, Coffee Quality Manager Beth Ann Caspersen participated in the second of four international workshops in Palacaguina, Nicaragua. The workshops aim to promote gender equity in the male-dominated coffee industry by bringing men and women together to work through difficult questions about gender roles and the division of labor on the farm and in the home.
3. Coffee Leaf Resilience Fund
Over the last year, Equal Exchange has supported several of our key partners in the fight against coffee leaf rust: CESMACH, Finca Triunfo Verde, and Comon Yaj Noptic in Chiapas Mexico; Las Colinas in El Salvador; and San Fernando Co-operative in Peru. These co-ops have received more than a quarter of a million dollars-worth of investment to renovate and replant their members’ farms as well as increase productivity and access to training and adequate technology. We estimate that just in the past year, we have directly contributed to the replanting of more than 1 million coffee trees between these partners. The resilience fund is continuing into 2016 and we look forward to see the amazing work that our partners are doing to rebuild their farms and livelihoods post-coffee leaf rust.
4. Saveur du Kivu Cupping Competition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
In May, Coffee Quality Manager Beth Ann Caspersen traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to judge the country’s first-ever coffee cupping competition. Despite numerous logistical and technical challenges – like initially lacking running water and electricity!—the event came together through cooperative problem-solving, quick thinking and teamwork. The competition brought together diverse roasters and cuppers, local producers and international judges to experience some of the spectacular coffees and the growing coffee culture of the DRC.
5. Cooperation in Productivity Event in Colombia
This year, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of our partnership with our Colombian coffee partners, ASPROCAFE Ingruma. In July, Green Coffee Buyer Carly Kadlec and Coffee Quality Manager Beth Ann Caspersen visited Colombia to take part in a Cooperation in Productivity event. At the event, special guest Fredy Perez Zelaya of COMSA in Honduras shared knowledge and insight about how to thrive using organic and biodynamic practices in a region dominated by conventional coffee.
6. A Visit to Sri Lanka, Plus Three New Teas
It was an exciting year for Equal Exchange tea! In September, we introduced three new teas: Organic Ginger, Organic Green Tea with Ginger and Organic Rooibos Chai. Not only does this mean more delicious options for tea drinkers, it means we are able to buy more tea and spices from small-scale farmers in an industry dominated by large plantations.
In December, our tea team visited our tea partners at Bio Foods and the Small Organic Farmers’ Association (SOFA) in Sri Lanka. They spent the week visiting farms, tasting teas, touring factories and talking about the tea industry with locals. Tea Supply Chain Coordinator Leif
Rawson-Ahern says, “Small scale farmers are incredibly rare in the plantation-dominated tea industry and our visit reminded us of the profound difference between large, conventional plantations and the small-scale tea gardens of the farmers we work with. Unlike the vast, clear-cut and mono-cropped plantations that cover the Sri Lankan countryside, the small farms we visited were celebrations of biodiversity.”
7. Bringing Farmers to the Forefront at the Northwest Chocolate Festival
In October, our chocolate team and two colleagues from partner co-ops CONACADO in the Dominican Republic and ACOPAGRO in Peru traveled to Seattle for the Northwest Chocolate Festival. The festival was attended by about 14,000 people, with a great mix of industry professionals and consumers. For two straight days we provided tasty chocolate samples and information about our mission to support small farmers.
Grant Projects Coordinator Cristina Liberati, together with Elizabeth Burgos from CONACADO and David Contreras from ACOPAGRO, gave a presentation entitled “Better quality beans, better quality of life for cacao farmers.” This presentation highlighted the work that we have done together as part of the USAID Co-operative Development Program. At the Chocolate Makers UnConference, held just prior to the festival, they presented the Cacao Tasting Form that has been developed with the co-ops and the Peruvian National Cacao Judges to spur industry conversation and action toward a common and inclusive language of quality.
Thank you for all that you do to support small farmers and the mission of authentic Fair Trade.
Happy New Year from all of us at Equal Exchange!
This winter, warm up with a cocoa tasting event! Hot chocolate is the quintessential cold weather treat – so a chilly winter day is a great time to introduce all three of Equal Exchange’s organic, fairly traded cocoa mixes to your community. Here are our suggestions for a festive and delicious tasting event: