Fairtrade Spices

Investing in Fairtrade

The Fair Seas Spice Co., that’s pretty me and two other guys, have recently expanded our line-up Fairtrade certified Spices

Fairtrade Spices

Our Expanded line-up of 100% Fairtrade Certified Spices

Our newest collection, available in 6 convenient sizes, is the perfect gift for even the most ethical consumer out there.

While we source virtually all our spices from small-scale farmers and cooperatives, we are especially proud of our Fairtrade product line. Fairtrade International, a remarkable organization, has done an amazing job in bringing to the forefront the plight of small-scale farmers and producers across the developing world. Often times we forget exactly how our neatly packaged spices, teas, coffees, and clothing (just to name a few examples) found their way onto store shelves. In too many instances, the products we use, consume, and take for granted are the result of some form of exploitation. The Fairtrade stamp is a friendly reminder that as consumers we must always be conscious of purchases we make, and that we always have a choice.

Small Scale Farmer

Small-Scale Farmer in India. Picture by Melanie Hadida

Fairtrade International has relentlessly championed the cause of small-scale producers across the globe. Under the legacy which Fairtrade International has established, hardworking producers who would otherwise receive a pittance for their labour or goods are now receiving just and fair market wages. Along with fair wages, Fairtrade International also places a premium on community development. Buying Fairtrade is not a charitable act, rather it is a legitimate investment in a communities inherent potential.

As of mid-September, the Fair Seas Spice Co. will be launching an expanded 100% Fairtrade Certified Spice Collection. All 11 of our Fairtrade certified spices will be now be included.  Our newest collection, available in 6 convenient sizes, is the perfect gift for even the most ethical consumer out there.

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Cinnamon Bun vs. Cinnamon Roll

The age old battle between the cinnamon roll and the cinnamon bun continues to persist to this very day. What separates the cinnamon roll from the cinnamon bun? Absolutely nothing. They just happen to be the top two Google searched terms related to cinnamon. You can tell we’re working very hard on our search engine optimization skills.

Seriously though, what is better than either a cinnamon roll or bun? So many delicious ingredients fighting so vigorously  to give you Type 2 diabetes. Maybe it’s the sugar, maybe it’s the buttery dough made from refined flower, most likely it’s both. Before you can even think of grabbing your insulin you’re hit with the spicy savoury goodness of the cinnamon. Now let’s focus a minute on cinnamon before I hit you up with an awesome high calorie recipe. There is cinnamon, and then there is cinnamon. We sell the latter. In fact we sell two variates of  Fairtrade and organic cinnamon, Cassia cinnamon from India and Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka (Update: we are receiving our Ceylon Cinnamon this Friday and we are very excited; that’s right, cinnamon excites us at the fair Seas Spice Co.) We import and sell our cinnamon unmolested  in whole form.  No dyes, no fillers, no artificial flavouring.  One simply cannot compare pre-ground bulk stuff to our fresh home ground cinnamon (any coffee grinder will do).

Now its time for a little cinnamon schooling:

Ceylon vs. Cassia

Odds are if you’ve bought cinnamon in north America its of the Cassia species. While we commonly refer to Cassia as cinnamon, in reality Ceylon cinnamon is the only variety to be considered true cinnamon. Cassia is also considered to be of higher quality than Cassia . Cassia is grown throughout Asia and consists of the outer bark on the cinnamon tree, while Ceylon is cultivated almost exclusively in Sri Lanka consisting only of  the inner bark of a small evergreen tree called Cinnamomum zeylanicum. Ceylon requires significantly more work to harvest than Cassia and is generally more expensive.  Do Cassia and Ceylon taste the same? Not quite. Ceylon cinnamon is sweet and delicate where as Cassia Cinnamon is more pungent and peppery. Cassia is usually a better suited for savoury dishes, while Ceylon is preferred for sweet dishes. At the end of the day both are delicious, and it really comes down to personal preference.

Now here is the link to the recipe:

You’re Doing It Wrong: Cinnamon Rolls

 

Cinnamon Roll

Cinnamon Roll or Bun, it’s all the same.

 

Black Pepper. A Super Food? Maybe, Maybe Not, but Bottom Line it Tastes Great

I’m not going to tell you that black pepper is a magic medicinal food that will cure any and all ailments. But black pepper is alleged to have many redeeming health benefits. For example, according to whfoods.com, black pepper helps with the digestion of proteins which mitigates those factors that can lead to heartburn, indigestions, and yes even gas, irritable stomach, diarrhea and constipation. Black pepper, they claim, also happens to be a powerful antioxidant with antibacterial properties, and let’s face it, everyone loves antioxidants, even though most people have no clue what they are or what they actually do. However I’m sure the most appealing benefit of black pepper is that it may (MAY being the operative term) aid in the breakdown of fat cells.

Fairtrade Black Pepper

Fair Seas Spice Co. Fairtade Organic Black pepper

Now let’s be honest. Will black pepper make you indestructible and super skinny? While we would love to say yes, it most probably won’t. The Fair Seas Spice Co. however conducted its own scientific survey where we posited the question; does black pepper taste great in almost any recipe? Our empirical answer was, yes it does.

Now allow me to go a step further and share my theory as to why Black Pepper (and every other spice for that matter) is a super food. Having at your disposal high quality organic and Fairtrade black pepper (or any other spice) will encourage you to cook more flavourful meals at home and hence eat out less. There is no doubt that home cooking is far healthier than even the healthiest restaurant options. So rather than order in from the questionable noodle joint around the corner, cook your own Asian inspired meal.

On that note follow Mel Hadida’s great “Badass Black Pepper Tofu” recipe. Does her blog post contain some mildly offensive language? Yes it does, so be warned and enjoy.

When it comes to spices less in more and freshly ground is better

We’ve all seen it, huge litre sized plastic jugs filled will ground spice. Your lucky if you get through half of that jug over the next half decade. Unfortunately spices over time loose their freshness and flavour. Sure you may be saving a bundle buying cinnamon in bulk at a big box store, but are you really getting value for your money? Are you really enjoying the wonderfully rich flavour freshly ground cinnamon, for example, should impart. The answer is probably no. I’ll share a little story about cinnamon to illustrate my point.

My father loves to shop in bulk, and he also loves his cinnamon. Add 2 and 2 together we get ground cinnamon in bulk. This was obviously before I dove head into the Fairtrade and organic spice slinging business. I remember receiving my first shipment of Fairtrade organic cinnamon bark from India. I could not be more eager to sample the goods. I grabbed a few sticks, threw them in my Waring spice grinder and ground them with palpable anticipation. Within seconds, the air was filled with the delicious aroma of fresh cinnamon with an intensity never before experienced. Ground to a fine powder I took a small pinch of my cinnamon, and sprinkled it into my mouth. I was blown away, until that moment I can assure you I had never actually tasted cinnamon the way it was supposed to be tasted. It was rich, sweet, and piney, with just a hint of heat. Even with such a small amount the flavours exploded in my mouth. Without a second thought I unplugged my grinder, grabbed a few more sticks of cinnamon and drove straight to my fathers house. I grabbed my dad and brought him to the kitchen, plugged in my grinder, threw in the cinnamon and started grinding. Within seconds my fathers eyes lit up. “Is that actually cinnamon?” he asked, “ya, pretty nuts huh” was my response. He then proceeded with a taste test. He sprinkled a little into his mouth, nodded his head, looked up to me and said “the regular stuff tastes like sh*t”.

The moral of my little story is that when it comes to spices less in more and and freshly ground is better. Unless you own a restaurant or a bakery, or happen to be an extremely avid home chef, buying spices in bulk is bad, even worse is buying ground spices in bulk.

Here is a great article and a video providing some great information on storing your spices.

Remember, the Fair Seas Spice Co. sells all of our spices whole, in small quantities, and in containers designed to extend the life and flavour of your spices.

A Simple Guide to Making Homemade Masala Chai Tea!

Thought I would share a nice little Masala Chai recipe written up my Mel Hadida. Enjoy.

Masala chai is the most popular and most commonly served drink all over India. It’s thick, sweet, milky, a little spicy and incredibly delicious! Normally, I don’t enjoy milk in my tea, but during the many months I’ve spent in India, I could easily consume up to 10 small cups of chai a day. In fact, at the charity I worked for (www.chingaritrustbhopal.com) it wouldn’t be uncommon for the caretakers there to bring me a fresh cup every 45 minutes! The sweet and spicy combination is sometimes exactly what you need for a cozy and comforting little pick-me-up!

What you’ll need:

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Several black tea bags
  • A few cardamom pods
  • A few cloves
  • A couple cinnamon sticks
  • A small handful of fennel seeds
  • Some freshly grated ginger
  • Lots of sugar or honey

In a saucepan, warm up your liquid over medium heat. Some people enjoy a chai that’s entirely made with milk. I like to use a half milk half water ratio. Toss in your tea bags. As they steep, watch the liquid turn a beautiful brown color. Toss in all of your spices, grate some fresh ginger into the pan and stir continuously. Allow the liquid heat up until it’s come to a simmer. Keep in mind, the longer you simmer, the spicier the tea will be. Add your sugar and honey and stir. Traditional Indian chai is served VERY sweet. Some people might not enjoy this, so use the sugar according to your own taste.

You can strain the tea through a colander, some cheesecloth or by pouring it all into a teapot with a Bodum, or even a cafetière!

Serve alone or with some plain biscuits. Enjoy!

Check out What Would Jaishree Do? for more great recipes.

Why Fairtrade Spices?

When it comes to Fairtrade, coffee and tea have assumed much of the spotlight. For good reason no less. Coffee and tea are so widely consumed that small scale farmers would stand little chance of survival if not for the opportunity Fairtrade affords to agricultural communities throughout the world.

Spices are not so different, and for that reason The Fair Seas Spice Co. works closely with organizations such as Fairtrade Canada in order to ensure the most stringent and socially responsible business practices are integrated into our business model.

 

To quote our favourite food blogger Mel Hadida of What Would Jaishree Do? “Spice production, which takes place largely in the developing world, is often plagued by exploitive practices. The spices that we find in our local supermarkets are often produced unethically and in ways that are environmentally harmful. Choosing to support and purchase our Fairtrade organic spices has countless positive effects on your own health and the health of our planet.”

Check out the rest of her article Spices and Fairtrade.

Small Scale Spice Farmer