September 2009


Autumn Colors Photo By Per Ola WibergAs the leaves change and the air turns crisp, most people are digging out their jackets and thinking of Halloween costumes. However, do not forget that October, as well as being the home of the spookiest holiday, is also Fair Trade Month! So while you are taking in the smells of Fall and enjoying those pumpkin sweets, take time to celebrate and promote Fair Trade. All month long there are events across the nation including Fair Trade Festivals, Market, Film Viewings, and Tea Time.  Make sure to check out the Transfair Fair Trade Month site for an event near you! 

On top of great events , Transfair has planned to announce tips on how to bring more Fair Trade into your lives through 31 Days 31 Ways! Every day during the month of October they will post these tips! We will also be announce their tips on our Twitter Feed. So pay attention for the best of Fair Trade tips all month long

Fair Trade Fair Photo By PlutorIf you would like to be more involved, you can attend your local events or join the Fair Trade Towns in your area and help make your city of residence truly Fair Trade. In the case where you may have a couple of extra bucks hanging around, you can always donate to Transfair Finally, please support Fair Trade as much as possible. There are hundreds of great Fair Trade companies including us at AP and so many more for all your product needs. 

So take in that autumn breeze and while you enjoy the colors of the season, remember the workers and farmers across the world. Please celebrate Fair Trade Month, even if you just buy a cup of Fair Trade joe or pass this information off to a friend! Happy Fair Trade Month 🙂

Always on the hunt for tastey Vegan snacks, and a yogurt lover, I decided to stop by my local natural foods co-op today and look into my options.  Usually going for the soy-based yogurts, I thought it a good idea to branch out and see what other yogurt makers had as an alternative to my norm.  I happened upon the cultured coconut milk by So Delicious, Ricera’s rice yogurt and finally the Soyogurt from Wildwood Organics (intended to be used as a basis for comparison).  Could any one of them be better than the others?

Before purchasing, I begin by picking up each yogurt cup to go over the information provided on the label.  All three are Vegan (the So Delicious having been certified and the Soyogurt boasting it being the only one made in a non-dairy plant) and they all contain live, probiotic cultures.  Each has its own slightly different laundry list of ingredients; all use easily digestible sugars and many of the contents are organicNutritionally speaking, the Soyogurt takes it; more vitamins included, the highest fiber and protein amounts at 5 grams and 7 grams respectively.  The Ricera’s calcium content matches the Soyogurt at 20%, although the So Delicious includes vitamin B12 at a whopping 30% daily value, great news for a Vegan as it is a harder naturally-occurring nutrient to come by.

I then commence with an habitual, vigorous shaking of all three cups in succession.  My intention is to get the contents as homogeneously non-chunky as possible to avoid stirring, but upon opening each, I find them all to be perfectly smooth, most likely meaning that shaking was unnecessary to begin with.  But shaking them makes an awesome sloshy sound.  The Soyogurt looks the most like dairy yogurt, lighter in color and the same kind of consistency.  The Ricera’s consistency is remarkably similar to cake batter and the So Delicious is a deeper purple and the runniest.

And now, the spoon.  I begin with the Soyogurt since soy-based yogurts are my standard; I figure it will set a good foundation for taste comparison.  That familiar, slightly sweet blueberry/soy taste, not much different from other major soy-yogurt brands.  Maybe some more blueberry pieces than usual.  Generally tasty.  Moving on to the Ricera, the taste is reflected a bit in the consistency.  Even though the blueberry flavor has a nice sweet-sour thing happening, it is also somewhat chalky and doesn’t slide down as easily. But being made with organic brown rice, it has 12 grams of whole grain to offer, something you wouldn’t think to get in a fruity snack.  It strikes me as a great ingredient for something, like a smoothie or a fruit tart.  Finally, I try the cultured coconut milk, the one I was most excited about since it was my first time having it.  The flavor mix between the blueberry and coconut is interesting and subtle; a mellow berry tang followed by a surprisingly calm sweetness from the coconut milk, which can often be an overpowering flavor elsewhere.  But even though I’m a huge fan of coconut milk in general, the final flavor impression of the So Delicious catered to a specific side of my palette.  It tastes great but, with its kind of sweetness, perhaps only at the right time.

After all this comparison, which makes the better treat? In the end, my comparison of these Vegan yogurts left none of the three ahead of the others. They were all enjoyable, generally healthy for different reasons and each struck me as having its own time and place to be eaten. Are all Vegan yogurts created equal?  Final answer: yeah, why not? But you don’t have to take my word for it (RIP Reading Rainbow).

SUMMIT09

Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  Twain has graced us with many wisdoms, including the importance of fashion on who we are in society. This week (09/25/09 to 10/02/09) is Boston Fashion Week, where local Boston designers and fashionistas debut their designs. This year, our very own Anne O’Loughlin was asked to speak on the panel of the Boston Fashion Week Style Summit. 

Join us for a one-of-a-kind discussion: Learn how certain local leaders shifted gears, and have mapped out a place for themselves on some of the new frontiers in fashion such as Green, Vintage, and Fair Trade Fashion. Moderated by Jay Calderin, the Founder & Executive Director of Boston Fashion Week.

Panelists Include:

Anne O’Loughlin, Autonomie Project– Fair Trade

Meredith Byam, Poor Little Rich Girl – Re-purposed Fashion

Shana Yansen, Jute & Jackfruit – The Environment

Nicole Kanner, All Heart Public Relations – Virtual Networking

Melissa O’Shea, Hello Stiletto

WHEN: Monday, September 28th 6-8pm

WHERE: Boston Center for Adult Education   122 Arlington Street, Boston, MA

PRICE:  $35 (BCAE Members $30)

'International Hug a Vegetarian' Day Friday, September 25, 2009

We all know Vegetarians and Vegans alike make better lovers but do they also make better huggers? Well folks now is your chance to find out! Tomorrow, September 25th is International Hug a Vegetarian (or Vegan) Day! PETA2 promotes hugging everyone you know who has made the committment to a cruelty free lifestyle. In fact, tens

Carnival Love Photo By Ellen Munroof thousands of veggie lovers all over the world will participate in this year’s fun holiday!

Before you go hugging everyone in the streets, be sure to sign the pledge to hug some vegetarians tomorrow on PETA2’s site. Also, we all know how international and connected this world has become, so if your beloved vegetarian lives miles away from you, be sure to send an E-Hug their way. 

Go out tomorrow and show some love to your cruelty free friends, family, and neighbors! Be sure to snap a picture and post on the Hug A Vegetarian Day Flikr account! Here’s hoping tomorrow will be filled with veggie love and appreciation. I sure know I will be keeping my fingers crossed for some hugs.

'International Hug a Vegetarian' Day Friday, September 25, 2009

Economists and businesses all across the board are recognizing the immense impact the Fair Trade movement is having in markets across the globe, both in producer and consumer countries.  While not exactly promoting the idea of Fair Trade or ethical economics, Vijay Sarathy, vice-president of consulting firm Charles River Associates, admits on Purchasing.com that larger companies may end up shooting themselves financially if they aren’t willing to accept business models that accomodate higher wages for workers or adhere to environmental standards, such as those outlines in the Kyoto Protocol.  

Such concerns are also echoed in publications like QSRMagazine.com, which outlines and promotes strategies for the “quick-serve restaurant” industry, not exactly the most ethically outstanding segment of the modern economy.  But they recognize, based on market research, that In the U.S., some eight out of ten consumers feel it is ‘important’ or ‘very important’ that companies engage in programs to support the environment and society,”  and that companies risk their consumer base if they fail to recognize peoples’ moral concerns.  However, if one reads on, the article unravels quite a few devious methods the industry has for dealing with such concerns while keeping their strategies and identities (read: bottom lines) secure.  

Coffee Photo By Selma90

Perhaps this kind of dishonesty and double-speak is part of the reason why, even in a heavy recession with an uncertain future, businesses engaged in Fair Trade practices are still showing market growth, albeit somewhat slowed, while gigantic service and manufacturing companies watch their figures plummet.  As Juliet Morris, director of marketing for Just Us! Coffee Roasters, puts it in the blog Interrupcion Fair Trade: “Growth has moderated. But, as one of my friends said, ‘Flat is the new up.”   But for those consumers that are curious about or have already embraced a Fair Trade ethic, the reason for this success is absolutely clear: it makes you feel good to buy and use things that aren’t destructive to people, animals or the environment.  It’s a simple, moral truth.  The violating deceit of large-scale financers and businesses has imbued a healthy skepticism and caution in the public mind, and the result can be seen in the avenues where purchasing power has shifted.

Business Graph Photo By nDevilTV'Amber Chand, a Ugandan refugee who fled from Idi Amin’s dictatorship in the 70’s and came to Massachusetts, operates her own online Fair Trade gift company .  Sited on Jezebel.com, she has no doubt why, during the last holiday season, her business grew an eye-opening 22%.  “People during a downturn start feeling extremely conscious of how they spend their money. And your money is your vote, your dollar is a political statement of where you’re making your choices, so for people coming to the collection, they were deciding to buy a beautiful candle, or a beautiful basket or necklace from the collection because they knew it directly impacted the life of a woman and her family in a region of the world that we would consider extremely vulnerable.”  

Phat Wad, Break me off some Photo By Refracted Moments™'s So as school commences and the holiday season approaches, know that your dollar truly does count in the social and political scheme of things, perhaps most of all, and be encouraged that many others refuse to let economic uncertainty compromise their ethics.  It appears that there is a larger trend in consumer spending to use dollars wisely rather than the cheapest option. We hope this trend continues and blossoms into a full scale consumer revolution! The best way to support this revolution is to spend consciously (something we at AP know a little something about). Besides our humble company, there are plenty of great Fair Trade companies to support in order to meet all your shopping needs.  As loyalty and trust in big name manufacturers meet their timely end, the signs are clear: Fair Trade is the future!

Original Kermit the Frog Photo By adamfarnsworth“It’s not easy being green”, or so a famous frog puppet once asserted. Perhaps that statement could be reshaped today to read “it ain’t easy understanding just what the heck ‘green’ precisely means in a more environmentally aware society”. In our modern world, terms like “green” and “organic” are sometimes tossed around like any “It” word of the day. They have been uttered so often and written about so much that they somehow they tend to lose meaning in the hustle and bustle of day to day life.

In the 80’s something that was “bad” was suddenly “good”. In the 90’s “Phat” no longer referred only to the girth of one’s waistline, but to the amount of coolness a person or object possessed. Each new bit of jargon caused the mass confusion of parents world wide. Are “green” and “organic” contemporary examples of vernacular that leave not only moms and dads scratching their heads, but also saddle young and old alike with the question, just what does it mean to be green?

Earth (my favorite planet) Photo By woodleywonderworksWe as a society are lead to believe that by purchasing something that is labeled “green” or “organic” that we are somehow doing something good, or “bad” for you children of the 1980’s, without perhaps thinking about the meaning behind the terms. It can not be denied that these words can be used as advertising ploys, as environmentalism has become a hot issue, surely some greedy people and companies will use that trend to their advantage. Slapping a buzz word on to a product in an effort to cash in on its trendiness is not a new practice in consumerism. Only few years back, as Atkins diet mania hit entered the publics collective consciousness, a “carb-free” label meant sudden financial success for an array of barely edible products.

Appleofmyeye Photo By Bludgeoner86So if Green no longer just refers to the color of money, or popular fictional frogs with a penchant for dating pigs, then what does it mean? My own understanding is that for something to be Green, it should exemplify both social and environmental consciousness in action. This is not to say that my understanding is completely correct. There are still the seemingly unanswerable questions, such as what if somethings production is good for the earth but bad for the people producing the product? Or vice versa? Is the environmentally sound option always the most socially aware choice? Is it always worth shelling out extra money for organic food when one can not always be certain what “organic” means, let alone if the product at hand is actually organic? For a person with a fair amount of Catholic guilt, this endless stream of moral queries can become maddening, trust me.

Stacks of books, Seattle, Washington, USA Photo By WonderlanePerhaps the only truth is that life is not easy. Even things that are supposed to be made simpler by the advent of such modern conveniences, such as grocery stores and online shopping, are not as easy as they appear to be on the surface. Of course, they can be simple, one can thoughtlessly buy things and only think of the immediate results, and let’s be honest, most people make purchases or perform actions based on immediate gratification from time to time, and I for one am not here to judge you for things I am myself guilty of. Maybe we should look at the Green movement as a reminder– a reminder to not be lazy just because it is an option, a reminder that sometimes research is required in making our own informed decisions, a reminder to not blindly trust simplistic labels to make our decisions for us, and a reminder that we, like Mr. Kemit the frog himself, must accept that it is not always easy being Green, but most worthwhile things in this life tend not to be effortless.

Necessity is often said to be the mother of all invention, but is it perhaps also the driving force behind adaptability?

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse”, three little words that have become the battle cry of the Green-minded set, have been reinforced in recent times by the plain and simple necessity that comes with living through trying economic times. Over the past months, as stocks were plummeting and jobs were steadily disappearing, the amount of garbage produced by the normally consumer crazy American public was following suit. By some estimates, the amount of waste inundating our landfills has decreased by as much 30 percent.

Blue Marble (Planet Earth) Photo By woodleywonderworkBetween vanishing 401Ks and the dwindling job market it is hard for even the most optimistic among us to not feel a little hopeless on occasion. While living life in the lean lane does not necessarily mean grabbing a shovel and burying our family valuables in the backyard, it does mean that people are adjusting the way in which they live on the most fundamental of levels. People who may have never given much thought to where their abundance of belongings came from, let alone where it went to after they disposed of it, are now forced to consider the realties of our sometimes disposable society. Slowly but surely, frugality has birthed a new, more green minded nation.

Pre-recession you may have tossed that aging Milli-Vanilli poster out of the window of a moving Hummer. Post-recession you is much more considerate of the plight of mother earth, so you reuse that classic poster as lining for the cabinets in your kitchen! No worries, photos of this lip syncing duo will do nothing to tarnish the street cred of your dishware.

Pre-Recession you tossed that empty cola can in a river overflowing with salmon, while post-recession you rinses that can out and redeem it for the nickel deposit! Score! Both for your wallet and those cute fish!

Pre-Recession you would buy six motorcycles at a time, in an effort to let your friends know that you are in fact cooler than both James Dean and The Fonz combined. Post-recession you peruses pictures of the cast of Happy Days on the internet at your local library. Hey, it is a recession, not everything is gonna be unicorns, rainbows and Harleys!

Its Future is in our Hands - Live Earth Photo By aussiegallMother nature enthusiasts may have preferred for these considerations towards the environment to have been adopted by the masses for reasons other than frugality, but ultimately this new found environmentalism is good news for the planet. The more people who live conscientiously, for whatever reason, the better. Lessons learned out of necessity are hopefully not as disposable as the society in which we belong tends to be. When this recession becomes past sense (fingers firmly crossed), perhaps the newly learned, Earth healthy habits adopted by so many won’t soon be forgotten.

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