Saturday, November 20th is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Haven’t heard of it? It is the Saturday before Thanksgiving and the grocery stores are packed with loads of people stocking their cupboard and refrigerators with the necessary ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner.  Even though you shopping list may be long, the holidays are a time to give thanks, and this is a great time to spread the message of fair trade. When we brew coffee or boil some rice, we often do not think about the farmers and producers of these items. Some of these workers are not properly taken care of and endure harsh conditions to be sure you have the food on your table. But there are companies out there that are conscious of this and take extra steps to ensure the workers are treated, paid, and given benefits fairly. This year we can be sure and give thanks to the workers and companies who are being responsible. You can do this by supporting fair trade during the holidays.

There are many items you can purchase fair trade to make sure you give thanks to the fair trade movement, responsible companies, and of course the farmers and producers. You can create a wonderful fair trade holiday dinner from start to finish. We have put together a few suggestions to help you shop this weekend and make sure your Thanksgiving is a fair one!

1) Settings: The first step in entertaining is to set the table. The great thing about this year is that countless items are now available fair trade including table settings. Ten Thousand Villages has a colorful and great assortment of table cloths and runners, many with fall colors. Ten Thousand Villages has a ton of locations throughout the US and an online store. You will also find wonderful fair trade napkins, dish sets, serving trays, and silverware. Ten Thousand Villages carries many of these items. You can also find them at a local fair trade store or other online stores such as Fair Trade Marketplace, Global Exchange and World of Good.

2) Decorations: One of Thanksgiving’s many traditions is the centerpiece. You would be surprised to find out that many items that create a centerpiece can be purchased fair trade. Fair trade flowers are available at many locations online and at Whole Foods markets. You can also find fair trade certified candles and incense to make your home feel cozy and smell delicious! A number of vases, baskets, and candle holders can be purchased at the sites mentioned above: Ten Thousand VillagesFair Trade MarketplaceGlobal Exchangeand World of Good.

3) The Meal: Obviously, the main feature of the holiday is the dinner. We are happy to report you can find many of your ingredients with a fair trade certified symbol including olive oil, cocoa, sugar,rice, and even spices. You can also find many fruits including bananas and oranges certified. Many mainstream supermarkets carry fair trade items these days but you can be sure and find them at local natural food stores, co-ops, fair trade stores, and Whole Foods.

4) Wine & Spirits: Dinner wouldn’t be complete without a glass of wine or a cocktail. Luckily there is now fair trade wine which comes in many varieties as well as fair trade vodka.  There are also some great mixers which come certified included Maine Root which makes natural fair trade sodas such as ginger ale and lemon lime. You can serve fair trade for both your drinking guests and the ones who abstain!

5) After Dinner: After your tummies are filled with tons of fair trade foods, there is nothing better than relaxing with a warm cup of coffee or tea. Luckily, there are countless companies that provide fair trade certified coffee and tea including Equal Exchange, Grounds for Change, and Dean’s Beans. Your guests will thank you for serving such high quality and high conscious after dinner drinks!

6) Recreation: Another great holiday tradition is football! Not only do people love to watch it, but some love to play it as well. It is a wonderful bonding family activity and this year you can even have a fair trade football! Impress your family this year with a socially conscious and certified football. If football really isn’t your activity, Fair Trade sports offers plenty of other sportsballs including soccer balls, basketballs, and even rugby balls!

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Earlier this summer, the Autonomie Project team had the pleasure of meeting another local business in the Boston area at a TransFair USA event. We met Ali Siam, one of the founders of Olde City Imports. He and his wife, Ena, operate their business in Randolph, MA. Olde City Imports offers a great range of Fair Trade and organic olive oils as well as olive oil soap, wild flower honey, zaatar, and cous cous. All labor and manufacturing is Palestinian as all the products are sourced from the West Bank. TransFair USA, Fair For Life, and the Palestinian Trade Association certify Ali and Ena’s products as fair trade. We had the pleasure of trying some of Ali and Ena’s products at the TransFair USA event. The olive oil is to die for and is pressed from olives harvested by farmer cooperatives in Jenin, Salfit, Ramallah, and Nablus. The olive oil was so delicious; we absolutely had to dedicate a post to one of their recipes!

I asked Ali to send a recipe I could make using his delectable olive oil. He sent a recipe for Sfiha Bizaatar. This recipe is extremely easy to make and perfect for serving with dinner or having a snack! All you need is your favorite recipe for dinner biscuits, olive oil, and zaatar spice mix. We have provided our instructions for preparing dinner biscuits if you do not have one already.

Organic Sfiha Bizaatar Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups organic flour
2 tsp. organic baking powder
4 tablespoons organic margarine (we suggest Earth Balance)
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup organic soy milk
1 ½ tablespoons organic olive oil (we suggest Olde City Imports)
1 ½ tablespoons organic zataar spice mix (we suggest Olde City Imports)

Sift the flour and then add the baking powder and salt. Then sift again. Add the margarine and mix well. As you are mixing, add the milk gradually. Once the dough turns soft, knead the dough on a slightly floured surface for about 30 seconds. Roll the dough, so that it is ½ inch thick. We suggest cutting the dough with a 2 inch floured biscuit cutter. Then, mix the olive oil with the zaatar spice mix, until the consistency is neither watery nor thick. You can add more olive oil or zaatar to achieve your desired consistency. Apply 1 tsp of the Zaatar/olive oil mixture on top of each biscuit by using a spoon. Bake for about 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees. This recipe should make about 12 biscuits.

Be prepared for the scrumptious scent of zaatar to fill your kitchen as the biscuits bake! Once they finish baking, you will be extremely impressed by the combined taste of the zaatar and olive oil. And like me, you will probably eat one too many. You can find all of Ali and Ena’s products at Olde City Imports’ website.  All of their different olive oils are perfect for this recipe. Happy Baking!

-Derek Rogers

Yesterday it was reported that the conflict in Israel and Palestine continue despite efforts by the world community to push a cease fire. And today news reports announced today that Obama’s advisors landed in Israel to help ease the tension and hopefully work towards some peace. With all this negative news coming out of the region, it can be a bit depressing. 

So today we wanted to bring you a bit of good news about Palestine. At the end of December 2008, it was made public that Palestine will begin selling their first fair trade product: olive oil in 2009! This is great news for the region as the farming and production of the product is expected to help economic growth as well as helping to lower the unemployment rates. Helping to ease these problems as well as some water and agriculture issues is the focus of the fair trade products. It was also mentioned that in February of 2009 a delegation will be held in the West Bank to begin talks about starting an agricultural hub in Palestine.

To purchase fair trade olive oil and other Palestinian products check out Caanan Fair Trade products. This news may be  the beginning of many fair trade products to come out of the occupied territory. With war raging in the region and economic failure, it seems like we never hear anything positive about Palestine. But hopefully this piece of good news will lead to others. As our politicians work on easing tensions, we hope fair trade initiatives can pave the road to economic and social recovery. And a true olive branch of peace can be extended.

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