Montezuma’s chocolate designed to welcome in the spring

Leaving behind pancakes and lovehearts, the next big festival is Easter (though don’t forget Mother’s Day at your peril!)

Easter is at the end of March, so it will be here before you know it…

But with all these thoughts of indulging ourselves with sweet treats it’s good to note that the chocolate companies are working to make themselves as ethical as possible (at least those we stock at GoodnessDirect are.)

Take Montezuma’s for example, not only is their chocolate ethically sourced from South America, this year they are supporting a the Butterfly Conservation charity.

Montezuma Easter Chocolate Egg
It’s got nuggets of pure cocoa in it…

All the boxes (where there are boxes, because they’re downscaling their packaging too) are designed with different species of butterfly and a donation for every box sold will go to the charity, which is the largest insect conservation and while relying heavily on donations works hard to slow the decline in butterflies and moths (one third less in the last five decades).

It’s an appropriate way to celebrate the coming of Spring and you can celebrate too by chomping through some amazing flavours from  Montezuma’s Easter range:

Organic Dark Chocolate Chunky Egg and Organic Milk Chocolate Chunky Egg Beautiful hollow chunky eggs made using Montezuma’s delicious house blended dark or milk chocolate.

Organic Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nibs Eco-egg and the Organic Milk Chocolate with Butterscotch Eco-Egg
Amazing taste and minimal packaging guaranteed.

Salted Peanut Butter Filled Milk Chocolate Mini Eggs and The Almond Praline Filled Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs
A unique combination of the chocolate shell and filling to make you wish it was Easter every day of the year!

Organic White Chocolate Cheeky Bunnies, Dark Chocolate Cheeky Bunnies and the Milk Chocolate Cheeky Bunnies
Returning again this year with their cheeky smile.

Milk Chocolate Butterfly with Biscotti Pieces
UK Chocolate entrepreneurism is getting better and better. And, look out for something on the horizon called the Single Origin Truffle Egg – we don’t know much about it yet, but even the title makes it sound tantalising.

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Seed & Bean chocolate bars are packed with flavour

The Organic Seed & Bean company have brought out some of the most unique bars of chocolate I have ever come across. They are crammed with flavour & creativity and are the latest bars to hit the organic and Fairtrade ethical market! (In fact, they’re the best in ethical chocolate.) Take a closer look….

The best in ethical chocolate
The best in ethical chocolate...

Extra Dark Chocolate

In the “extra dark” range you will come across some taste-bud tingling chilli & lime, some tongue twisting mandarin & ginger and some sensual raspberry & coconut. Not to forget the lavender, pumpkin & hemp and smoked Cornish sea salt. I bet your mouth is watering already!

The “extra dark” bars range from 66% to 72% cocoa, they come in 85g bars and are all suitable for vegans. Just think, how many of your friends would love to try one of these?

Fine Dark Chocolate

For all those who just want pure, unadulterated dark chocolate then this is the one for you… it’s Seed & Bean’s original fine dark chocolate known as Extra Dark for its high cocoa content – that’s it – nothing added.

But for those that like a little twist then why not try these? Fine dark chocolate with lemon & cardamom or coffee espresso. Certainly something to sink one’s teeth into!

Ranging from 58% to 72% in cocoa, from unadulterated to flavour sensations, these 85g bars are a great gift for anyone, and all are suitable for vegans.

Rich Milk Chocolate

How will you choose choose?? I can’t. I am a real sucker for milk chocolate and when someone presents me with the choice between milk chocolate with raspberry or milk chocolate with tangerine I just can’t pick. They are quite possibly my 2 most favourite flavours. (I do also have a severe weak spot for lemon.)

These 3 bars are a lot lower on the cocoa scale, all being at 37%, so they are very creamy. Completely delicious if you ask me!

Creamy White Chocolate

My other weak spot. Lemon & poppy seed. Ahhhh… just thinking about it is making me melt. I love lemon. I love white chocolate. I LOVE this combination!

Chocolate Slabs

But you know… Sometimes a bar just isn’t big enough, so Seed & Bean have brought out the slab! These are great for if your having one of those “I need chocolate” days, and they are also great for sharing (yes, you can share chocolate). There are 4 fantastic flavours all of which are not available in the small bars so yes… there are 4 MORE flavours to taste! Fine dark chocolate with double ginger, fine dark chocolate with double chilli, fine dark chocolate with cherry and creamy white with blueberry & vanilla. Oh how do you pick?

Check out the whole Seed & Bean Range many of which have gained  Vegan accreditation too. (I’d get shopping quick if I were you.)

Afghan raisins? A fair play for peace

If trade can be the cause of war, perhaps it can also provide a cause for peace?

Fair trade groups are testing this theory by trading coffee from the Congo and olive oil from Palestine in the UK.

Now, after four years work, Tropical Wholefoods are exporting raisins from peaceful areas of Afghanistan.

The Guardian reports “Offering people decent prices for their produce can help to support jobs, improving living conditions for producers, their families and the local businesses they buy from, and diverting young men, especially, away from involvement in militias.” (Sarah Irving)

The Fairtrade raisins are from the Shomali region of Afghanistan and, along with apricot kernals from Northern Pakistan, are the latest in a string of senstional fruits sold by Tropical Wholefoods.

Fairtrade fruits bursting with flavour
Fairtrade fruits bursting with flavour

Shoppers appreciate the excellence of the foods. Banana chips which are chewy, apricot kernals flavoured in chilli, banana-type ‘Bogoya’ slices which taste so good you’ll finish the bag, and now Afghan raisins which were once reputed to be the best in the world.

You can enjoy them as organic fruit and nut snack bars too.

Fair trade is all about opening up an opportunity for a different kind of life – and if it brings peace then it’s fair enough.

Win a box of vegan food

How many ethical companies can you think of?

I know about one company that searches globally for local farmers and food producers, checks whether the foods are organic, environmentally sustainable and pure. It also seeks to make sure that it’s investment will support the local community where the food is grown.

They have a singular commitment to quality, are are always on the lookout for  new foods.

Quality food from Clearspring
Quality food from Clearspring

To celebrate Clearspring’s amazing standard and innovation I’ve got a lovely box of their vegan products to give away (and a special offer for everyone who enters). So, if you’d like to be in with a chance to win send an email with the subject Clearspring Box and include your address details (UK addresses only, competition closes 24.2.11).

The box will include their new organic corn cakes, rice cakes (black sesame, sea vegetable and teriyaki flavour), instant miso and soya sauce noodles, the world’s first ambient organic tofu and their fruit spreads (apricot, blueberry, cherry, raspberry and apricot).

Partycakes – special offer for gluten-free and vegan sweetmeats

If you’ve got a party coming up I want to recommend a good source of cakes.

For wholesome and entirely natural cakes and tray-bakes try Peck & Strong. They cater for vegan, no wheat and gluten free diets.

Most importantly party guests will say they taste fantastic! That’s because their cakes are made by hand, with no short-cuts or manufacturing, just good ingredients, baked with flair and supplied frozen. (They’re ethical too.)

So, if it’s a tray of brownies, flapjacks, shortbread or cake you’re after for your party then Peck & Strong could make your celebration a real piece of cake!

Another idea is Sweetcheeks – a cupcake delivery company serving coeliac and vegans with a bit of a sweet tooth…

They offer cupcakes, cookies, whoopies, brownies, cake pops and giant cupcakes, all made fresh to order with the finest ingredients. Their cakes are healthier than traditional baked goods, due to the special ingredients used in their unique recipe.

And as a GoodnessDirect customer they want to offer you 10% off your first order.

Coeliac London say the cakes “must be tried to be believed!” So you can serve them a party safe in the knowledge that everyone can relax and have fun.

To get the discount all you have to do is quote GOODNESS when you place an order before 31st December 2010. (Offer excludes discount on delivery charge.) To find out more visit www.sweetcheeksltd.co.uk or email sweetcheeksltd@hotmail.com.

It’s chocolate week – probably the most indulgent week of the year

It’s chocolate week 2010: 11th – 17th October (…and we’ve got a recipe for you…)

We’re pleased to say that one of our favourite hero companies, Divine Chocolate, is sponsoring the event with activites all over the UK and culminating in Chocolate Unwrapped – a Saturday and Sunday of luxurious chocolate fayre presented at Vinopolis in London (16th  – 17th October).

 

Divine Chocolate - a heavenly experience...
Divine Chocolate - a heavenly experience...

Divine are a great company, 45% of which is owned by the village farmers who grow the chocolate for Fairtrade. The fine quality of their chocolate means it stands shoulder to shoulder with master chocolatiers.

Sara Jayne-Stanes, Director of the Academy of Culinary Arts, described Divine as “…intense, very smooth, delectable chocolate …Divine is in a league of its own.”

At GoodnessDirect we feature many ethical and specialist chocolates. Divine’s range is perfect for giving, sharing, cooking or just indulging.

But if your mouth isn’t yet watering, here’s a Divine Chocolate pudding recipe, courtesy of the esteemed Pudding Club.

Divine Chocolate Bombe

Three layers of charming chocolate mousse to delight and entertain your dinner guests…

Dark Chocolate Mousse
125g Double cream
45g Divine 70% Dark chocolate
1 Leaf Gelatine

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What is Ethical?

The term ETHICAL is banded around alot these days. It is one of those words that has become part of our everyday speech, everyday marketing and everyday product descriptions. Consumers say they want ethical, and ethical purchases have increased year on year according to the polls, but what does ethical mean?

According to the dictionary, ethical is an adjective:
1. pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
2. being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, esp. the standards of a profession: It was not considered ethical for physicians to advertise.
3. (of drugs) sold only upon medical prescription.

I’m sure today’s more general definition is closer to No 1. of these in that it is the method and morals of a producer as much as the product, not ‘the end’, but the means to it.  The end product must also be in line with the best of eco and people consciousness too to qualify.

Ethical Junction have sumarised the ‘What is ethical?’ question very clearly.  So rather than debate it further I will give you their take on it in these excerpts from the Tale of Two tomatoes.

The Tale of Two Tomatoes

Ethical” is fast becoming a brand name – a cleansing agent that can be strapped to a product or service to alleviate the guilt of consumption. Does it mean that the mythical ethical consumer is emerging, a consumer who tries to act and buy ethically in all aspects of their life? Or does there simply exist a growing demand for “ethical” products? For the two are not the same.

The hidden ingredients

…But what about everything else that went in to producing that product? Where are the raw materials sourced from? In what conditions are they grown, mined, raised, fished and processed? What about the number of miles it travelled to get on the shelf? What about what the producer does with the money? What about the “ethics” that brought that product to market?

What is ethical?

Ethical practice is about more that just fair-trade, it is more than organic, it involves holistic appraisal of every aspect that goes into the trade and industry behind a product or service, in Marxist terms it is the “means of production and distribution”. There is no one definition for “ethical”, as an adjective it’s very nature is open to interpretation, although there is no doubt that to be ethically led means to be trying to “do the right thing” at all points of the supply chain. As of yet, however, the consumer cannot easily get a fair appraisal of the ethics that lie within and behind a product as easily as they can find the ingredients that lie within it. So the question must be: Do consumers really know in what proportions they are demanding “ethical”?

What measures the ethical quality of a product? Minimal environmental impact? I think so. Respect for fellow living creatures? Probably. Fair treatment of all labour involved in the production process? Definitely. So the key to a truly ethical product lies in the production process and the “worker” is core to that as we are, mercifully, not entirely mechanised yet. It would be fair to say then, based on ethical demand requiring suppliers to adhere to these practices, the worker is going to come off quite well. Fair wages, workers rights and limits on the amount of hours worked are just some of the benefits available. However, we haven’t addressed price yet.

Addressing the price

Price, whilst the least tangible of all costs that we can relate to a product, is more often than not, the deciding factor in the relative success of any product or service. Price, traditionally, drives both demand and supply. Price as a financial measure is ultimately a measure of the relative cost of a product. It is a generic summary of the resources that have been consumed bringing the product to market; it is not necessarily related to or indicative of the “ethical” cost of a product.

Read the full article here

In conclusion then, ethical is fair on people, fair on planet, made fairly, done fairly – against greed, against exploitation, for everyones best.  It is indeed an ideal that cuts against so much of traditional trading. Can we suceed in making this ideal a reality?

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