In case you're not sure what to give the food-lovers in your life for Chrismukkah, I've come up with a list of some great environmentally-friendly and socially-conscious gift ideas. These are just a jumping off point but hopefully they'll help you get started. Feel free to add your gift ideas via comments.
A canvas tote bag to help your favorite foodie carry his or her haul home in eco-friendly style. These are getting quite trendy so you have your pick of some cheekier options (including a "F*@k Plastic" tote) as well as the simpler ones you can buy at any Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, as well as at many more conventional chain supermarkets. Using these sturdy, reusable bags will help cut down on consumption of trees and petroleum and reduce landfill waste. It's nice to have a bunch of these totes for bigger shopping trips.
- Rejavanate makes great bags out of recycled burlap coffee sacks - these bags cut down on landfill waste, petroleum consumption, and also provide jobs to people in need: http://rejavanate.com/
- The Vancouver based company, Bring Your Own Bag offers some "cheekier" options:
You can order them online from one of the following places:
- ReusableBags.com http://www.reusablebags.com/store/togo-ware%C2%AE-2tier-stainless-steel-food-carrier-p-669.html
- ToGoWare.com (I think they may actually be the manufacturer): http://www.to-goware.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=13
An organic cotton or hemp apron (again no chemical fertilizers or pesticides). Here are a few options.
- Kushtush: http://www.kushtush.com/homaprons.htm
- Rawganique: http://www.rawganique.com/kitchenaprons.htm
- Kasper Organics: http://kasperorganics.net/
- These hand embroidered towels are very cute! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=8190680
- Here are some more standard options: http://www.rawganique.com/kitchenaccessories.htm
FOOD & DRINK
Buy a gift membership in an organic CSA (community supported agriculture). If you want to support local farmers directly, joining a CSA is the single best way to do it. Buying in to a local farm helps the farmers weather a drought or tough season and withstand the economic pressures of rising land prices, fluctuations in market prices, etc. It also provides you with healthy, fresh produce every week (or other week) and gives you a direct connection to the people who are growing your food. These farms tend to welcome visitors and often will host regular events at the farm to give its members a chance to roll up their sleeves and experience farm life. The more organized ones also offer a weekly newsletter which features wonderful recipes for the food you receive in your produce box that week. All in all, I think this may be my best gift idea!
- If you live in the Bay area, EatWell Farm is a wonderful option - Nigel Walker and the other folks do an amazing job -- the food is good and the newsletter is so fricking adorable it's almost worth joining just to receive it every week. http://www.eatwell.com/
- Full Belly Farm also has a CSA - I know from the farmers market that they have great produce. http://www.fullbellyfarm.com/csa.html
- Those of you who are further a field can do a search for CSAs in your area at the Local Harvest web site: http://www.localharvest.org/
- Organic Wine of the Month Club:
- Divine Chocolate, a company that is 1/3 owned by the Ghanaian farmers cooperative that produces the beans: http://www.agreatergift.org/Gourmet/ChocolateFood/Divine.aspx
- Global Exchange http://store.gxonlinestore.org/gxchocolate.html
- Equal Exchange: http://eeretail.stores.yahoo.net/
- Deans Beans - a Massachusetts based organic, fair trade coffee company: http://www.deansbeans.com/
- Caffe Ibis Coffee Roasting Co offers triple certified beans - organic, fair trade, and shade grown!: http://caffeibis.com/
- Global Exchange's online store: http://store.gxonlinestore.org/coffee.html
King Corn DVDs. From now until Christmas, one dollar of each King Corn DVD purchase will be donated to the Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Next Generation Program, which provides training and mentoring to aspiring young farmers. More than half of U.S. farmland is owned by people of retirement age, while the number of entry-level farmers has fallen by 30 percent in the last decades, making encouragement of young farmers a timely and urgent issue.
DVDs of the critically-acclaimed King Corn are now available for sale online at http://www.kingcorn.net/.
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
From the Cook's Garden by Ellen Ecker Ogden - delicious recipes, gorgeous woodblock prints
You can also find even more of these conscious cookbooks at Sustainable Table: http://www.sustainabletable.org/kitchen/cookbooks/index.html
More intellectual food for thought:
Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Our Food Comes From & Why We Need to Get It Back by Ann Vileisis
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan or any of the other excellent books by Michael Pollan
GRUB: Ideas for an Urban, Organic Kitchen by Anna Lappe & Bryant Terry
Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe & Anna Lappe
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
MEMBERSHIPS & GIFT CERTIFICATES
If you feel like the food-lover in your life does not need any more "stuff", you can always go this route as there are lots of great gifts that will not clutter anyone's house.
A gift certificate to a restaurant that uses locally-grown, organic food. If nothing comes to mind, try doing a search for a good restaurant at the Eat Well Guide's web site: http://www.eatwellguide.org/advsearch.cfm
Cooking classes! You can browse through Sustainable Table's listing of conscious cooking schools here: http://www.sustainabletable.org/kitchen/schools/
Make a donation to a charity working on organic or sustainable agriculture, land reclamation, fair trade, etc. You may want to look for a local nonprofit but here are a few ideas.
The Ecology Center - the awesome organization that runs Berkeley's Farmers markets, biodiesel collective, and our curbside recycling program!
The Organic Consumers Association - a nonprofit that promotes the views and interests of the nation's organic and socially responsible consumers. they campaign on food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics.
Oxfam America - a wonderful international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. They also do a ton of work to help farmers here in the US and around the world (think Farm Bill and way beyond) and were one of the main pioneers behind the fair trade movement. They offer some great, clever gifts through their "Unwrapped" holiday gift program (at http://www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com/) - your donation will buy seeds, trees, sheep, chickens, goats, donkeys, etc., to help families and communities become self-sufficient.
Oceana - an awesome international oceans conservation group (I used to work there so I can vouch for them) is running a holiday adopt a sea creature campaign right now at: https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/209/t/3790/shop/shop.jsp?storefront_KEY=330 .If you make a donation to adopt a dolphin, sea turtle, penguin, seal, whale, etc., and help protect the animals and their habitats. As a token of thanks, gift recipients will receive their choice of sea creature cookie cutters (like the turtle one at right), an acknowledgment of their adoption, facts on ocean creatures, and a sugar cookie recipe from Warren Brown, FoodNetwork star and owner of CakeLove (one of Washington, DC's favorite bakery/pastry shops.) For a donation of $100 or more, you also get an exclusive Oceana oven mitt.