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Filtering by Tag: Ethical Valentines Gifts

Chocolate Made the Loving Way

Annmarie Rodriguez

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When one thinks of the most typical Valentine's Day gifts, chocolates immediately come to mind and not just every day chocolates, but boxes of beautifully presented, specialty chocolates that, when given, will communicate love at best, or fulfill cultural expectations at least. According to a 2009 Nielsen report, Americans purchased around 58 million pounds (over $345 million USD) of Valentine's Day chocolates prior to the holiday!

Although chocolate has a long history of notoriety, there is a bitter side to its sweet story. Just as slavery is known to exist in the production of cotton, steel, oriental rugs, diamonds and silk, cocoa production also lends itself to exploitative labor. Child labor and bonded slaves are often used in the harvesting of the cacao pods. According to a US government-funded study, over 1.8 million children work in West Africas cacao industry. Many of these children are subject to unsafe working conditions. This unsavory reality has stirred activists and businesses alike to seek solutions.

Consumers who wish to enjoy guilt-free treats now have many options available to them. Possibly the easiest way to ensure that your chocolate is ethically produced is to buy Fair Trade certified products. The Fair Trade certified label guarantees that the farmers who were involved in growing the raw materials in your chocolate receive fair prices for their crops. It also ensures that slave labor and child labor were not used during the production cycle. You can check out Fair Trade USAs website for a list of chocolate manufacturers.

It is important to note, however, that there are companies making ethically sourced produces that, for financial reasons, choose to forgo the Fair Trade certification process. These companies may choose to develop relationships directly with farmers, monitor their own supply chain and label their products ‘direct trade’ or ‘ethically’ made. The benefit of direct trade, some argue, is that producers can pay higher prices to farmers due to the savings incurred by not going through the certification process.

While we at deliberateLIFE are strongly in favor of producers receiving the best possible price, we do encourage supporting companies that undergo external evaluation of their supply chain to maintain transparency.

Note: Organic products are definitely better for the environment and for one’s health, but it’s important to note that ‘organic’ is not synonymous with ‘slave-free’.

Spreading the Love: Valentine's Day

Michelle Park

Transient

By Michelle Park

As Valentine’s Day has been dubbed the national holiday of romance, it’s no surprise that February 14th can be a day filled with a lot of…emotion, and whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, running on just emotions can get really stressful, really fast.

What’s more, the presence of emotion often gets confused with the presence of love and discerning the difference between the two can be quite important for both singles and committed relationships. The cure for this confusion is simple: love acts, and it acts selflessly. It compels the human heart to look outside itself, to deliberately overflow—and not just for one day, but all year-round.

So whether you have a special Valentine or not, everyone has access to the presence of love. We just need to reclaim it. And where do you start? Maybe it’s a word of encouragement to the waitress who’s spending V-Day in an apron, or finally taking some time to call your parents. Maybe it’s cooking dinner and buying gifts for a single mom you know, or baking cookies for a friend who’s hurting from a bad break-up. Or, if you’re up for it, maybe it’s all of the above.

And for those of us who are partaking in some good ol’ romance on V-Day, we can take up the challenge to be deliberate in honoring our loved ones. Put your phones away, serve each other extravagantly, hug deeply, and tell them why you’re proud to call them yours. Consider getting an impacting gift that isn’t just the hottest new product at Barney’s, like this unique jewelry from 31bits, which help women in Uganda rise above poverty. Through informed purchases, you can demonstrate love to both your special someone and to a complete stranger miles away.

Here’s some simple tools to make love a lot more deliberate on Valentine’s Day 2014:

  • Fresh farmer’s market flowers
  • A couple batches of home-made cookies, to box up and give to quality friends or that very special someone. (Recipe below)
  • Sketchbook to handwritten letters paired with a great scented candle
  • Good vibes music play-list (dance party may follow)
  • Bottle of red wine or lavender tea
  • Fair-trade dark chocolate

Need some more ideas? Here are a few ethical gift ideas our research team pulled together: 
Ethical gifts ideas for her || Gifts ideas for him

Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sprouted Kitchen:

  • 1 stick/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup muscavado sugar
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. maple extract
  • 3 T. maple flakes (optional)
  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • heaping 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips/chopped chocolate


Heat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg, sea salt, vanilla and maple extracts and mix again to combine well. In another bowl, mix the almond meal, oats, white whole wheat flour, pinch of cinnamon and baking soda together. Add the dry to the wet mixture and stir until almost combined, being careful not to over mix. Add the chopped chocolate and give it one more stir to combine. Allow the mixture to chill for at least 20 minutes, or covered overnight. Place your cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet or silpat, leaving space between for them to spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until the centers are barely set. They will appear underdone, this is good. Allow them to cool and enjoy. 

Photo Credit: Michelle Park.