coffee

The Perfect Cup of Java

I have to admit I’m loving this new coffee trend.  Coffee shops are popping up all over the place and many are becoming much more aware of the quality of the coffee they serve. While I love my local coffee shops, the atmosphere and social gathering opportunities they provide, I still think a cup of home brew is better. As a long time self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur I have been home brewing organic, fair trade coffee by small craft roasters for years.

If that perfect home brew has been eluding you follow these simple steps and you can skip that daily trip to the coffee shop unless you’re meeting friends of course!

Start with Fresh Beans

Coffee beans stay fresh longer than ground coffee but are still best within a couple week of being roasted. Roasted beans contain oil, which can quickly go rancid, especially when exposed to light and oxygen.  Basically air and light are the enemies of coffee so store yours in an airtight, dark container.

Buy freshly roasted beans in small quantities and invest in a good coffee grinder to grind as your brew as ground coffee deteriorates at a much faster rate.

Quality Matters

With an abundance of coffee choices out there it has become much easier to purchase quality beans, not just fresh, but sustainable.  Coffee is one of the top traded commodities on the planet. Meeting that demand is no easy task. So over time, farming methods have been developed to maximize production – but often at the expense of human and environmental health.

This includes a heavy reliance on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides putting the local environment and people at risk. In addition, forests are cleared to make room for open fields in which to grow mass amounts of hybridized sun-loving coffee varieties.  Coffee naturally grows in the shade, providing support to the surrounding ecosystems, protecting rainforest cover and the coffee farmers.

When making your coffee purchase look for organic, fair trade varieties that protect the environment, the local farmers and support a sustainable future of coffee production.

Choose Your Favourite Method

There are many methods to brew coffee, all include the addition of hot water to ground beans. Here is a quick review of some of the most popular.

French Press – A quick and easy method that involves throwing some beans in a pitcher with hot water. Let it steep for 5 min, push the strainer and Voila – hot strong coffee. The longer and more thoroughly your grounds are steeped, the higher the caffeine content in your brew, making this method ideal for those in need of a serious early-morning wake-up call. But that extra caffeine comes at a cost. French pressed coffee contains higher amounts of Cafestol, the molecule in coffee that can cause cholesterol spikes.

Chemex –  this slow-and-steady approach to coffee brewing has made a comeback in the last few years. Just like a standard-drip machine, the Chemex method involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds. But the Chemex is special because it requires a filter that’s up to three times thicker. As a result, the finished coffee has smoother texture and purer flavor, with fewer fatty oils than what you’d get out of a standard-drip brew.

Cowboy Method – The art is in heating coffee beans and water over a small flame (but a stovetop burner works, too). Right before the water begins to boil, sprinkle a handful of cool water into the pot and then pour the brew straight into mugs. In addition to being cheap and perfect for the great outdoors, this brewing method packs a serious flavor punch, since nothing is strained or filtered.  However, some find the results a little too bitter; others don’t enjoy scraping up coffee grounds from the bottom of their cups.

Standard Drip – The granddaddy of all brewing methods, a standard-drip brew involves pouring water over ground coffee beans in an automatic machine. Many people prefer this method of brewing since it ’s fast, easy, and traditional. It ’s also one of the healthiest: The filter at the top of the machine absorbs most of the beans’ natural oils, which can do a number on your cholesterol over time. Unfortunately, these oils also trap flavonoids, the chemicals that give coffee the bold, earthy flavor we love.

Cold Brew – Cold brewing is similar to the French press technique. Unlike the French press, cold water is used in place of hot, and the grounds are steeped up to 12 hours. The finished product is a crisper, sweeter cup of coffee than the coffee-shop-special dark roast most of us are used to. That’s because cool water brings out the natural flavors in coffee’s oils that hot water chemically alters or takes away. Cold brewing also takes away some of the acid naturally found in coffee beans, which makes this method ideal for those who suffer from heartburn or acid reflux disease. Brew a small amount of strong coffee and add hot water if cold coffee isn’t your thing.

Don’t Forget the Water

Coffee is mainly water, so it’s no surprise that the quality of the water used has a big impact on the finished product. Tap water can add nasty chlorine flavours. Distilled, reverse osmosis or softened water makes horrible coffee because of the lack of minerals.  The best water is filtered water or bottled spring water.

So you’ve chosen your coffee beans, selected your brewing method and filtered your water. It’s now time to brew the perfect cup!

Put it All Together!

1. Grind the Coffee Beans

The grind size does matter and varies depending on your brewing method. Grind too coarse and you will have a weak pot of coffee. Grind too fine and you will overextract the coffee and it will taste bitter. Most drip coffee makers call for a medium to medium-fine grind. A burr grinder will give the most constant particle size but can be very costly. A manual hand mill is the most affordable way to achieve a nice, consistent grind, though they do require a small amount of manual labor. Blade grinders also work, but will produce inconsistent particle size, which can lead to overextraction.

2. Measure the Coffee

For a consistent cup of coffee every time your should measure your coffee by weight instead of volume. Obviously personal choice plays a part here – but a good strong cup of coffee can be produced with a ratio of 1:20. 1 part ground coffee for 20 parts water.  That works out to 12.5 g of coffee for every cup (250ml) of water. For those that don’t want to weigh that is approximately 1-1.5 tablespoons of coffee per cup.

3.  Preinfuse the Grinds

Perfusing your grinds, otherwise known as letting them “bloom” helps make a slightly better and stronger brew. This preps the coffee by pouring hot water over the grounds to help release any remaining carbon dioxide gas left over from the roasting process. Skipping this step will allow the carbon dioxide to repel water during part of the brewing process, effectively making the brew weaker. To preinfuse your coffee, insert a filter into the hopper and add your coffee grounds. Then use a kettle to preheat roughly 50mL of water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and slowly pour it over the grounds, making sure to thoroughly wet all the grounds. Let this sit for approximately 45 seconds before starting the coffee maker.

4. Brew at The Right Temperature

The desired brew temperature for coffee is between 90-96 degrees celsius, slightly below the boiling point. Below or above this range will result in either weak or burnt coffee. Many drip machine, especially cheaper ones do not properly heat the water. To make sure your coffee maker gets hot enough, run it without any coffee in the hopper and use a thermometer to measure the temperature. If you can, try to measure the temperature during the brewing process, as the water temperature will drop as it passes through the hopper and into the carafe beneath. If it never reaches at least 90 degrees Celsius, see if preboiling your water in a kettle helps.

5. Enjoy Immediately

Personally, I like my coffee hot so I drink it immediately after brewing. If you need to keep your brew hot for a period of time use an insulated carafe. Keeping coffee on a warming place cooks the coffee and creates a bitter taste.

applecidervinegar

Topical Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

Historical records show that apple juice has been fermented into vinegar since before 5000 BC. Through the ages, apple cider vinegar has been used to stimulate circulation, aid in the detoxification of the liver, to purify blood, cleanse lymph nodes, and improve immune system response. Hippocrates himself often prescribed it for coughs and colds, when mixed with a touch of honey.

Organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar also has a number of topical and beauty uses. So after consuming your daily dose in a glass of water – try some of these great DIY beauty tricks!

Natural Conditioner to Make Hair Shine

appleciderApple cider vinegar can be used as a natural hair conditioner that makes your hair shine! Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of water in an old bottle.  Pour this on your hair after shampooing three times per week for best results. Make sure to protect your eyes!

Sunburn Soother

Use apple cider vinegar to soothe a sunburn. Put 1 cup of apple cider vinegar in a lukewarm bath along with 1/4 cup of jojoba oil and lavender essential oil to ease sunburnt skin.

Natural Teeth Whitener

Take your finger and rub apple cider vinegar on your teeth for 1 minute.  Then rinse mouth out with water.  The pH of apple cider vinegar can remove stains from your teeth which helps naturally whiten.

Poison Ivy Relief

The minerals in apple cider vinegar like potassium can help reduce swelling and inflammation, improving poison ivy.  Also, Apple cider vinegar can help detox the poison out of your skin helping poison ivy heal more quickly.

 Flea Repellent for your Pets

Mix a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar together with water and soak your pet in a tub.  Do this 1x a day for several weeks to rid your pet of a flea infestation.

Kill Fungus on Toes and Skin

The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds in apple cider vinegar make it a great natural cure for skin and toenail fungus.  Simply rub on the area of fungus 2x daily.  Also, using a mixture of coconut oil and oil of oregano is great for killing fungus.

applecidervinegar2Skin Toner for Eczema and Acne

The pH of apple cider vinegar makes it an excellent remedy for skin issues.  Rub apple cider vinegar on an affected area to support healing and balance skin pH.

Ease Varicose Veins

Apple cider vinegar is excellent for varicose veins because it improves circulation in the vein walls and is anti-inflammatory so reduces bulging veins.  Combine apple cider vinegar with witch hazel and rub on veins in a circular motion and you should see improvements in two weeks.

It is important to note that not all apple cider vinegar is created equally! To get the most out of using ACV, make sure you buy it raw and with the “mother” intact, which means it still contains the beneficial compounds including probiotics. It is imperative that you select organic, unfiltered, and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to reap its many health and beauty benefits. For more health be

soapnuts

Nuts for Soap Nuts

Making the shift to a greener cleaner lifestyle tends to come one step at at time. By this point your likely an old pro at recycling, you compost what you can and try to buy the greenest cleaners out there.  But how green are they? Let me introduce you to Soap Nuts the cleanest of the green! Soap nuts have been used for centuries to clean dirt out of fibres – Yep nature’s home grown laundry detergent.

What are Soap Nuts?

Soap nuts aren’t  actually a nut, they’re not even related to a nut, in fact they are a berry fruit closely related to the lychee. They are called nuts because they dry into hard shells, resembling a nut.  you may also hear them referred to as Soap Berries. These berries are produced by the Sapindus mukorossi tree indigenous to the Himalayas.  The berries (or nuts) contain a natural surfactant called Saponin.  The nuts are approximately 10% Saponins.

How Do Soap Nuts Work?

Saponin, like all surfactants, break the surface tension on water, allowing the water to entreat the fibres of your clothes.  The water is then able to lift stains and dirt from the fabric leaving it suspended in the water that is rinsed away.  Commercial detergents work on the same principle.

Unlike commercial detergents there is very little bubbles or foam produced.  We have been programmed by soap makers to believe the more bubbles produced the better the clean.  It simply is not true as foam is not an indicator of cleaning power but rather of artificial foaming agents usually diverted from petroleum chemicals.

Why Use Soap Nuts?

Soap Nuts have a number of benefits over traditional, commercially made laundry detergents.  Not only do they grow naturally, making them free of all petroleum based chemicals but they are gentile on both clothes and skin.  They are an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin or skin issues such as psoriasis or eczema.  They are also and ideal choice for baby clothes and cloth diapers.   Because Soap nuts are so natural and gentile, they are great for septic and grey water systems.

While producing clean clothes, soap nuts also have the ability to create softer clothes while prolong the life of your washed fabrics.  Chemical detergents can weaken fibres while soap nut gently loosen fibres to remove dirt and grime.  This results in softer, fluffier fibres that do not wear out as quickly.

How To Use Soap Nuts ?

While there are many possible uses for soap nuts, the most common is in the washing machine.  Put 4-5 nuts in the a small cloth bag (should be provided with your soap nut purchase).  Throw the bag in the wash with your clothes!  It’s that simple. Because soap nuts work best with more agitation, it is important not to overload your washing machine.  There is no need to add fabric softener and they work with any temperature of water in any machine (HE, front loading etc).  The bag containing 4-5 nuts can be used approximately 10 times or until they start to disappear or disintegrate.

For very dirty or heavy loads soak the bag of nuts in some hot water for a few minutes to make a “tea” this tea can be added to the wash with the nuts or used to presoak and treat stubborn stains.

For even more uses, make your own batch of liquid soap nut detergent by soaking the nuts in water.  This liquid can be used to wash pretty much everything.  Use it to wash dishes, countertops, floors and even the dog! It can used as a natural shampoo and body wash.  Also makes a great camp soap.  It is safe for almost any surface. It can even be sued to to clean jewellery.  The people of India have been using soap nuts to clean jewelry for ages.  Just soak the metal and/or gemstones for a few minutes in the liquid.  Use a mental brush (toothbrush) to remove visible dirt and rinse in clean water.

Keep in mind, like all detergents, they don’t work as well in very hard water.  If your water is hard a few more nuts make be needed.  If you use your dryer to dry clothes consider ditching the chemical laden dryer sheets for a more natural option and try Wool Dryer Balls for a static free softener!

 

 

Banana_Bread_Protein_Muffins

High Protein Banana Bread Muffins

Lets face it, we don’t always want to make a smoothie and wash the blender! Try this easy muffin recipe for a simple, high protein snack that’s perfect when your on the run.

  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (or 2 eggs)
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 2 scoops Whey Protein Powder (Chocolate, Vanilla or Unflavoured all work great!)
  • 1/4 cup baking stevia OR 1/2 cup sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, or line tin with papers.

Place all of the ingredients in a blender (or food processor) and blend until mixture is smooth.

Divide mixture evenly between 12 muffin tins.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

For information on protein read How To Pick a Protein Power

lemonwater

Three Simple Steps to a Healthier You

It’s the beginning of another new year.  That time of year when people set unattainable resolutions with big plans to drop all their extra weight, eat healthy forever, exercise regularly and become a new person.  Most of us have done it, most of us have failed. This year I encourage you to take a new approach. First and foremost, get off the scale and get the numbers out of your head.

This year make health the goal, feeling great the goal, more energy the goal – losing a few pounds will just be the side effect.

There are some simple small things you can add to your daily life without making a huge lifestyle shift. While big goals are good, little goals are better. Try adding these three simple tips to your daily regime. You will see your shift to a healthier lifestyle start to happen without even trying.

Start Your Day with a Glass of Lemon Water

Each morning drink a glass of water with enough lemon juice to make the water cloudy. Do this first thing, before coffee, before breakfast on an empty stomach.  This simple habit has many benefits. Not only does it help you increase your water consumption (which is always a plus) it also,

  • Cleanses & detoxifies the liver
  • Alkalinizes the body, making it less acidic 
  • Aids in digestion and bowl health
  • Improves skin appearance – by cleansing the liver!

Make this ritual as easy as possible by buying pure squeezed lemon juice like Santa Cruz Organic Pure Lemon.

Eat Protein at Every Meal

Without dwelling on calories, food choices, or a specific “diet” make sure you are consuming a protein source at every meal including breakfast (which of course is the most important of the daily meals!).  Protein has many benefits,

  • It is a macronutrient that stimulates the metabolic rate (=fat burning)  
  • Protein balances blood sugar and keeps insulin hormone levels in check.
  • It fills you up for longer and reducing food cravings aids in fat burning.
  • It helps repair and build healthy muscle tissue 

Good protein sources are quick, easy and plentiful and include eggs, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, yogurt, lentils, beans, chia, hemp, quinoa, soy, protein powders and more

Breath….and again

Everyday – at some point during your – while waiting for a friend, while sitting on the couch, watching a pot boil or standing in the shower, take 1 minute to be with your breath.  Close your eyes and inhale deeply through your nose filling your diaphragm with air.  Exhale slowly, imagining stress, toxins, worries and more exiting your body.  Continue breathing in slow deep breaths a minimum of 5 times.  While practicing this try to clear your mind of thoughts, thinking only of your breath as it travels through your body. Deep breathing is an easy, inexpensive activity with many positive effects.  Deep breathing can…

  • Calm your nervous system
  • Help manage stress and stressful situations
  • Improve digestion
  • Boost Energy

There are many small steps that can be taken to improve overall health. Some are simple, some require a bit more time and commitment.Health is not dependant on weight – but rather has many factors including physical, mental and spiritual.  All of which require daily thought and attention.

Health is not something that you succeed or fail at, it does not have an end destination, Health is a lifelong journey with many detours. Your health is something that is incorporated within who you are. Make improving your health a daily goal.  What can you do today to improve your health? What can we do to help?

 

protein-powder

Choosing a Protein Powder

Lets face it, the world of protein powders can be confusing.  Do you need a Whey or a Vegan? Concentrate or Isolate? Fermented? Organic? Sprouted? Sweetened? It is a lot to take in and for many people it can become a huge hurdle that stops them from getting the many benefits available from supplementing with a protein powder. Not to mention the prices can vary greatly and for many reasons. The big tub of protein powder you saw for $15 at the discount store is likely not the same as the $75 tub at the health food store.  Does it matter? Is there a difference?  Yes.

Lets start with the basics, most stores will have 2 basic categories of protein powder Whey and Vegan Sources. Each of these will contain varying amounts of protein dependant on ingredients, sources and the type of processing.  Regardless of how many grams of protein a product claims – you should always calculate the % of protein per serving. To do this, take the amount of protein per serving and divide by the serving size (grams) multiply this amount by 100 to calculate the percentage of protein per serving.  The more fillers, sweeteners and other ingredients, the lower the protein %.

Whey Protein Powders

Most whey proteins are derived from cows milk. Whey is simply the liquid bi-product your get from making cheese – Curds and Whey! Whey contains proteins, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. After the water and casein are removed the whey concentrate remains.   An easily absorbed protein source, whey proteins tend to have a smooth texture.  Within the Whey category, protein powers are further divided into whey concentrate and whey isolate.  Both of which have full amino acid profiles and many benefits and many people still debate which is better.  When looking for a whey – the source in important. Ideally it should be free from hormones, antibiotics and more.  Canadian and New Zealand milk products both have very high standards in this regard, as do certified organic milk products.

 

Whey Concentrate

Whey concentrates contain varying amounts of fat and carbohydrates in the form of lactose. The percentage of protein varies from about 30% to about 80% (% of calories from protein), and includes a variety of protein subfractions including lactoferrin, immunolgobulins and beta-lactoglobulin (among others), many of which have significant biologic activity and health benefits. Lactoferrin is essential for iron absorption and immunolgobulins are antioxidants that provide excellent immune support.

Whey Isolate

Whey Isolates are made by further processing and purifying a whey concentrate. This expensive process produces a protein concentration in excess of 85%.  It eliminates the lactose and the carbohydrates found in concentrate, making it a more pure protein source that is rapidly absorbed by the body. This rapid absorption produces a more profound insulin response, making isolates a popular post work-out choice but not recommend for diabetics.  This process also degrades the subfactions of the protein, reducing or even removing many of the health benefits available in a concentrate.

Unless you have very specific requirements or are an elite bodybuilding athlete – I suggest getting the best of both worlds with a blended protein. Blended proteins contain both Whey Concentrates and Whey Isolates making them a high protein source with all the health advantages.  Many blended products such as Progressive Harmonized Protein are specifically designed for optimal absorption and digestion that provide health benefits above any individual protein source.

Shop for Whey Protein

 

Vegan Protein Powders

Vegan proteins are a vast and growing category. Historically hard to find, they are now available alongside their whey counterparts in most stores. They consist of protein derived from plants. There are many sources for vegan protein including pea, hemp, soy, pumpkin seed, chia, corn, brown rice, quinoa, coconut and more. Each of these sources have their own qualities and benefits and many of them can be purchased as a single source protein supplement; However, the key to a good protein lies in its building blocks – which are amino acids.  There are many different amino acids but 9 of them must be consumed and cannot be produced in the body, these are considered “essential”.  The Amnio Acid profile varies in all the above noted vegan protein sources. Grains are generally limited in some amino acids, while most legumes are limited in other ones, and corn in even different ones. Some beans are considered a complete protein while others are not.

Therefore blended vegan proteins are best in order to provide a complete amino acid profile containing both essential and non-essential amino acids.  When it comes to blends there seems to be an unlimited number of combinations to be had. I suggest looking for a blend that contains a full amino acid profile and does not contain processed soy unless it is organic and fermented. Rice, hemp, pea are three popular sources found in most quality vegan powders. Also look for co-factors such as vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy fats… all of which will help aid digestion and minimize bloating. They also maximize the amount of potential protein that the body absorbs from that precious scoop of plant protein.

Organic? Fermented? Sprouted? Naturally Sweetened?

These are common words found on protein labels, but what do they really mean?

Organic

Like all other certified organic products, this means that almost all of the ingredients (95%) are grown or produced in compliance with the organic certification guidelines.  These products do not contain GMOs and are not grown using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. They also tend to have slightly higher nutritional content. Purchasing certified organic products is a good step towards sustainability, reduced carbon emissions and generally a better world –  but they do come with an additional price tag and tend to be slightly more expensive then their chemically grown counterparts.

Fermented

This is a popular word these days but the technique is ancient. Fermentation breaks down the “anti-nutrient” found in grains, nuts, seeds and legumes called Phytic Acid. It’s a form of stored phosphorus in plants that protects them against–you guessed it–digestion! For some, this anti-nutrient (and others) can spell digestive troubles like gas, bloating and indigestion. Fermentation helps by breaking down the barriers so your gut can work in peace.  Fermented proteins are a good choice for people with digestive problems.

Sprouted

When a seed or grain begins to germinate (sprout) a desirable nutritional change occurs. Complex compounds are broken down during the processes increasing the bioavailable amounts of vitamins, minerals and proteins available. Sprouted grains and seeds have been shown to be higher in nutrients like the B-vitamins, Vitamin C and essential amino acids. Plus there is greater enzyme activity for improved digestibility and absorption. The net result is undeniably better nutrition.

Naturally Sweetened

Lets face it, most of us have a sweet tooth and would prefer a smoothie that tastes like chocolate or vanilla over one that tastes like peas!  But Beware, often cheap, chemical  sweeteners and flavours such as aspartame are used in protein powders and should be avoided. Sugar, while a natural sweetener, can quickly add extra calories to your day. Look for products sweetened with Stevia – a plant based sweetener that does not spice calories or blood sugars.

At The Granary we sell high quality protein powders from a variety of sources. Stop in and talk to the us about picking the right one for you!

Shortbreadrounds

Gluten Free Shortbread

Eating a gluten-free diet this holiday? That’s no reason to go without a little short bread! Try this recipe from “125 Best Gluten-Free Recipes” and indulge a little!

2/3 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup GF icing sugar
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tbsp tapioca start
3/4 cup soft butter (or butter substitute)

In a bowl combine rice flour, cornstarch, icing sugar, potato starch and tapioca start. Mix and set aside.

Using a separate bowl and a mixer, cream butter. Slowly beat in dry mix until combined, scarping the bowl.

Gather the dough, kneading in any remaining dry ingredients. Dough will be soft, handle gently and try not to add extra flour. Roll into 1″ balls. Place 1″ apart on baking sheets and flatten with a fork dipped in rice flour.

Bake in a preheated oven (300*F) for 15-25 min until set but not brown. Cool on rack.

58

AVOIDING GAS & BLOATING AT HOLIDAY PARTIES

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Cocoa Powder and Dark Chocolate on old wooden table

3rd Annual Chocolate Party – Dec 3

Its that time of year again.  Time for our annual Chocolate Party on Saturday Dec 3.  This yearly event is quickly becoming a favourite for staff and customers alike – and how could it not!  A fun filled day of chocolate.  Stop by to sample some of our best  – ranging from a 45% milk chocolate all the way to a 100% heirloom cacao.  Learn what makes good chocolate oh so good, ranging from the living conditions of the third world cacao farmer to the health benefits of the consumer. Sip liquid chocolate while you browse our ever growing selection – this year we are excited to announce the award winning Hummingbird chocolate will be available!

This is a great event to stock up on all your chocolate needs for the holidays.  Gifts, stocking stuffers and baking chocolate – Great deals to be had on everything chocolate.

This year we will even be sampling chocolate fish oil and protein!

See you there.

96

Fairly Traded Chocolate – The right choice.

First discovered by the Mayans in 250 A.D., Europeans developed a taste for cocoa after the Spanish conquistadors brought it to Spain in the 16th century. Cocoa crops were introduced to West Africa at the end of the 19th century. Today, 67% of cocoa production comes from West Africa, with 43% from the country of Côte d’Ivoire alone.

Close to 14 million people, in over 30 countries, depend on cocoa production. The crop is grown mainly in the tropical regions of the global South.

Around 90% of the world’s cocoa supply is grown and harvested on family-owned farms with plot sizes of 12 acres or less. Smaller family farms produce an average of 350 pounds of cocoa per acre in a year’s harvest, generating an average annual income of US$30-100 per household member.

Bitter Chocolate

Unfortunately, cocoa has a dark side. The production and trading conditions in the cocoa market make it very difficult for producers to earn a living.

Cocoa farmers are often forced to negotiate with intermediaries who pay only a fraction of the actual value of their crop. As a result, farmers are often paid prices which don’t begin to cover the costs of production.

Producers also have limited access to information about what is going on in the market or how much their crops are worth, and many cannot get affordable credit.

The difficulty in making a living from cocoa farming has led to an increase in child labour, and even slave labour, in the cocoa trade. In 2001, the International Labour Organization and others reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast.

Under the umbrella of Fairtrade International (FLO), farmers who produce Fairtrade certified cocoa are organized democratically and receive a minimum price which covers the costs of sustainable production. They also receive a Fairtrade Premium to invest in social and economic initiatives in their communities. And there’s more…

The international standards for Fairtrade certified cocoa are:

Producers are small family farms organized in co-operatives (or associations), which they own and govern.
The minimum guaranteed price is paid directly to the producer co-op. The minimum floor price is currently set at US$2000/metric ton (MT) for conventional cocoa beans and US$2300/MT for organic cocoa beans. When the world market price is higher than Fair Trade, the market price, plus the premium, is paid to producers.
A Fairtrade Premium of US$200/MT is included in the purchase price. This premium is used by cooperatives for social and economic investments such as education, health services, processing equipment, and loans to members.
Environmental standards restrict the use of agrochemicals and encourage sustainability.
Pre-harvest lines of credit, of up to 60% of the purchase price, are given to cooperatives if requested.
No forced labour of any kind, including child labour, is permitted.

AND YES, COCOA DOES GROW ON TREES

Cocoa trees develop slowly, taking up to 10 years to achieve maximum yield. Cocoa pods are about the size of footballs and contain pulp and moist white cocoa beans which are fermented, dried, and roasted.

The beans often go through alkalization to improve colouring and flavour, and are then reduced to a cocoa liquor. This liquor can can be pressed to make cocoa butter, cocoa powder, or mixed with other ingredients to become chocolate. Fairtrade certified cocoa today is used in a wide variety of products including chocolate milk, frozen desserts, hot chocolate, baked goods and, of course, chocolate bars!

FAIRTRADE CERTIFIED COCOA IN CANADA

Canadians consume an average of 5.5 kg of chocolate per person each year.
Fairtrade certified cocoa was first sold in Canada in 2002.

Fairtrade certified cocoa sold in the Canadian market is mainly grown by 16 certified cocoa producer organizations, which represents over 70,000 cocoa growers in 11 countries.

For the complete article and more information of fair trade chocolate go to www.fairtrade.ca