If you're looking to incorporate some true global style into your home, look no further than these fair-trade picks. When a product is fair trade, it refers to the social movement that aims to provide workers in developing countries with equal and fair wages. Not only do these products help a community in need, they are beautiful, one-of-a-kind conversation pieces. Check out this slideshow that showcases some of my favorite fair-trade designs from all over the world.
From chocolate-covered dried fruit to coffee-flavored liqueur, a lot of fair trade products have caught my attention recently. As more and more products make the claim of fair trade, some companies have taken the movement a step further, to direct trade. The concept of direct trade is simple: only the producers and the purveyor are involved, and, of course, the consumer. One such company is Liga Masiva, a CSA-style coffee importer with roots in the Dominican Republic. I've become a member of its coffee club because I know that my purchase helps make a change for the Dominican coffee-growers. How do you feel about direct and fair trade grocery items?
Earlier this week I was invited to attend a very special alcohol launch for Fair Spirits. Fair is the first line of premium spirits to be produced with fair-trade-certified ingredients. It consists of three spirits: a vodka and two flavored liqueurs, goji berry and coffee. The smooth, easy-to-drink vodka is made from quinoa farmed in the mountains of Bolivia; the gojis for the sweet and versatile goji berry liqueur are grown by Tibetan monks; and the coffee beans used to make the fragrant coffee liqueur are harvested in Mexico. Each of these communities is positively benefiting from the production of these spirits. Cool, right?
To learn more about the brand and the event, please browse my photos after the break.
For me, the arrival of September is always bittersweet. Bitter because it's the end of my favorite season; sweet because it's my birthday month and I like to treat myself to multiple celebrations! Since students return to school, September is also a time of getting back to the basics. The weather turns cooler and as we welcome Fall, the grill is retired in favor of more slow-cooked methods. To make the transition more tolerable, we've rounded up the items we can't live with out: here are our must haves.
Last week, in a frustrating turn of events, the European Union passed a law that bans the sale of any American wine with one of the following words on the labels:
Chateau, classic, clos, cream, crusted/crusting, fine, late bottled vintage, noble, ruby, superior, sur lie, tawny, vintage, vintage character
The legislation comes as a follow-up to a 2006 agreement that limited the American use of terms like "Champagne" or "Chablis." Because it preserved certain wine growing regions, this pact was widely accepted. However, the new stricter ban is not related to protecting a specific region. The law will affect American growers of port and sherry, and many large American wineries, like Washington's popular Chateau Ste. Michelle and Napa's famed Chateau Montelena, will no longer be able to sell wine in Europe.
Like many wine enthusiasts, I think this is an absurd regulation and hope that the Europeans will reconsider the terminology ban. How do you feel about it? Are you surprised to hear that Europe is prohibiting the sale of American wine?
Afro-pop legend Miriam Makeba, also known as "Mama Africa," died on Sunday at the age of 76 in the south of Italy, following a concert appearance. This powerhouse songstress's long and varied life included marriage to Black Panther Stokely Carmichael, exile from her home country of South Africa, a starring role in the film Sarafina!, about the 1976 Soweto youth uprisings, and an appearance in the 2002 documentary Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony.
Over her lifetime Makeba made dozens of records and was responsible for bringing the issue of apartheid to the forefront in Western countries, though she always identified herself first as a singer, not as a political activist. In a condolence message, former South African president Nelson Mandela said "It was fitting that her last moments were spent on a stage, enriching the hearts and lives of others . . . "
To see how Makeba's stage presence and definitive look can translate to your home (as well as aid African women and charities), read more
Who would've thought that such an angelic figure could come from such a surprising source? When empty oil drums washed up on Haiti after World War II, local artisans reworked the "trash" into metal sculptures. And while this simple and sublime angel figure ($169) from VivaTerra wasn't in your tree topper roundup, I think it would've fit in nicely. This angel, which would also work on a mantel or tabletop as well as a tree, features a stipple textured robe and torso and large fluttery gold wings. Best of all, she's created and marketed exclusively under fair trade practices.
Think this rug is made of wool? Think again.
Mad Mats ($36 for 4-x-6-ft. rug) are made of recycled polypropylene (used soda bottles, milk bottles, packing), which make them great for indoor and outdoor use. Each rug is reversible and constructed with a flat weave and soft, tubular threads, making them dirt and stain resistant. Leaves, debris, and food spills are easily rinsed away with a mop or hose. Water does not get trapped, so there is no chance of mildew and they will not rot wooden decks. These inexpensive, pretty, and kid- and pet-proof rugs are also produced under fair-trade conditions.
I've heard of beer of the month clubs that let you sample different microbrews, as well as wine of the month clubs, which are a great way to discover small wineries. Now, I've just discovered a similar service for coffee lovers, called Citizen Bean. Guided by the principle of "coffee with a conscience," Citizen Bean sends its subscribers a new organic or fair-trade coffee each month, selected from micro-roasters all over the US.
The service ranges from $79.99 for four months to $199.99 for an entire year. Each month, you get a full pound of coffee, sent within days of its roasting date, along with assorted coffee-related accessories and treats. Plus, Citizen Bean asks each of its featured roasters to designate a charity, to which CB donates a portion of sales. This would be a great way to branch out from your supermarket offerings, and it would also make a delicious gift for any coffee aficionados in your life. What do you think? Would you use a service like this?
I always keep my eye open for cute placemats to spice up my table with on occasion, because it's boring to always use the same ones. These cute jute Lemon Placemants ($12) had me planning a tea party at first sight. Aside from being super adorable, they're fair trade and from a Bangladeshi producer group where Christians, Muslims, and Hindus work harmoniously together. This way, I can promote greater equity in international trade from my very own tabletop!