Thursday, February 7, 2008

But what about my caffeine?

I meant to post on this blog at least once a week, but I kinda missed a couple of weeks. There is just so much to write about on this, and its related topics, that I got a little overwhelmed by choices and couldn't decide what to start with.

After some consideration, I decided to write about a topic near and dear to the Seattle area - caffeine! Knowing that none of my favorite sources for my drug of choice grow anywhere near here (and that's an understatement), I decided to go with the advice of Steven L. Hopp (husband of Barbara Kingsolver, environmental studies professor, and co-author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). Basically to "apply the same positive food standards, minus the local connections, to some imported products" that we do to local foods, "including environmental responsibility, agricultural sustainability, and fair wages to those who grow our food."

Thus, Fair Trade. I still have a lot to research on this topic, but I have managed to find coffee, tea, and chocolate that I can feel good about purchasing, and ingesting. And I have to say that they all taste better too. I discovered that one of my favorite coffee houses, Caffe Ladro, serves all fair trade, shade grown (essential for keeping the rainforests and their inhabitants alive) and organic coffee and tea. I bought my most recent pound of coffee from them. Tully's is quickly adding more and more of these choices to their offerings. And Starbucks is, well, perhaps not responding as quickly as a company of their size should. Caffe Vita, and Tony's, other local coffee companies, are also organic and fair trade. I'm sure there's more - this is just my initial research. And being in Seattle, I didn't have to look far.

In the land of tea, I've also been lucky enough to find offerings that are also local companies. Tao of Tea, based in Portland, Oregon, is my new favorite. I have a tin of their Malty Assam loose leaf tea that is just lovely. Choice Organic Teas, based in Seattle, are also really good. (If organic and fair trade offerings in your area are slim, I believe you can mail order from all of these companies.)

And chocolate. The bar pictured above is a chocolate made in Switzerland, so not even a local company, but oh, it is sooooo good. There are several locally made chocolates, and many of them are organic, and some are even organic and fair trade. I have much research to do. Tough job, but somebody's gotta do it, right? ;)

One more source of caffeine that I don't really pay much attention to, but my husband does, is soda. The only way I can think to make soda even remotely good for the environment, and for your body, is to get rid of the corn syrup, and the chemicals that make up the fake sweetners. We found a local company that does just that. Jones Soda. I'm not really sure what they use for their diet sodas, but for the regular ones, they use cane sugar. As they say on their packaging, "corn is for cars".

P.S. - update from the world of chocolate - Mars, Nestle Promise Ethical Cocoa Supply, from the Organic Consumers Association website's news headlines.