Want or need?

Armaments-universal-debt quote huxley.jpg
In boardrooms
In legislative corridors
Hiding in ivory towers
Smiling from promo game prizes
Promising health, pushing toxins
Lurking in virtual spaces 
Grasping gadgets
(Obsolete in a year)
Insatiable want.
consumerism quote 1.jpg
Feelings of lack
Need, scarcity 
Memories passed on
from past generations
Need became wanting
more, more, more
Shopping, discarding 
Shopping, discarding
Repair and durability,
Simplicity and frugality,
faint quaint memories.
Were-consumers-We-are quote.jpg
Famous role models
prestigious beauty stars 
As close as a finger tap
All day, all night
Ads everywhere
absorbing through hungry pores
Tickling, entertaining
NEW, better, faster
‘All natural’, ‘Green’
Descriptors unquestioned
Plastic bottles in spiral pink
Shrink-wrapped delicacies
Vacuum-sealed scissors
Waterproof cardboard, 
Recycle arrows appease 
flickering consciences,
sooth doubting whispers:
A-shopping-cart-flipped kintz quote.jpg
Published in  1962, Island was Aldous Huxley’s last novel ; Chuck Palahniuk is a contemporary American author; and Jarod Kintz is a contemporary American author known for his humour. I discovered these quotes on Goodreads.
This is a Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge post hosted this week by Ronovan Hester.  The optional theme is ‘trust’, touched on indirectly by my consumerism theme (or perhaps the ‘touch’ is on mistrust or overtrusting?).
©2016,  All rights reserved by Ontheland.wordpress.com

Stories of Chocolate

Colombia cocoa farmer, courtesy of pixabay.com

In equator lands,
Sacks of sun-roasted jewels,
Cocoa farm’s triumph.

Chocolates, courtesy of pixabay.com

Tokens of passion,
Chocolate gems tantalize,
Sold at bargain price.

Black, turquoise, and green
flames on chocolate wrappers.
Ethical treasures. 

There is a story behind these three haiku:  growing, harvesting, extracting, and drying cocoa beans requires hours of labour that are under-compensated.  Most of the work is carried out on small family-owned farms– over 70% of cocoa comes from West Africa.

 Under the fair trade system, farm organizations provide safe working conditions, eliminate child labour, and earn a fair market price.  Did you know that when you purchase a conventional chocolate product, your treat may have originated from the labour of a child–and that the price you pay does not reflect fair value?  For this reason, I generally buy chocolate showing the blue, green, and black fair trade logo. I purchased the examples shown above in major chain stores. (Please be assured–I gain no financial reward from promoting these products–they are shown only as examples.)

If you are interested in finding out more about fair trade chocolate, these links may be of interest:

Ontheland fair trade pageprovides a brief description of the international fair trade system and links to major fair trade organizations all over the world.

My post about the Kuapa KoKoo Farmer Cooperative in Ghana, featuring four brief videos. Kuapa KoKoo fair trade cooperative supplies cocoa beans to a major chocolate manufacturer in the United Kingdom.

Child labour on Nestlé farms: chocolate giant’s problems continuea report from the Guardian, September 2015.

The haiku in this post are in response to Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge #83. The prompt words are ‘gem’ and ‘flame’.  Synonyms used are jewel and treasure for ‘gem’; and roast and passion for ‘flame’. Are you curious what other people came up with? Please follow the challenge prompt to find out.

©2016, All rights reserved by Ontheland.wordpress.com

Divine Kuapa Kokoo Chocolate–Fairtrade Cocoa Videos

There are so many stories behind the brightly wrapped chocolate packages we buy in the store.  Yesterday I wrote about Divine fair trade chocolate Easter eggs.   Today I’ve selected a few videos from YouTube that give a small idea of the lives and stories behind the cocoa used to make Divine and other fair trade chocolate products.

Divine Chocolate Ltd. is very connected to the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farmer cooperative, because Kuapa Kokoo owns 45% of its shares and supplies the cocoa for Divine chocolate bars, Easter eggs and other products.

Kuapa Kokoo was formed in 1993 and became a fair trade producer organization in 1995.  It became the only farmer-owned organization with a licence to purchase cocoa from farmers on behalf of the Ghanaian government-owned Cocoa Board.  These videos shows some of the ways Kuapa has changed peoples’ lives.

A strength of Kuapa and other fair trade cooperatives is that they are democratic.  Women are strongly represented as elected leaders of Kuapa.

Kuapa Kokoo means “good cocoa farmers’ company” in Twi, the local language.  Their motto is “Pa Pa Paa” which means “the best of the best of the best”.  This video shows the richness of this expression and the amount of labour involved in harvesting cocoa.

Finding Fair Trade Chocolate Easter Eggs

I discovered on Twitter last night that it’s possible to buy Fair Trade chocolate Easter eggs online from Amazon.com.  I did a search: first checking the Canadian site, Amazon.ca, but I found nothing.  I moved on to Amazon.com, where fair  trade certified Easter chocolate is indeed for sale.  Not impressed with the shipping cost, and preferring to buy locally, I continued my search.

I googled “Fair Trade Kingston” to find specialty stores in my neighbourhood.  Although it’s easy to buy fair trade chocolate bars in major grocery stores and at some specialty shops, it’s been difficult to find fair trade chocolate Easter eggs.

To make a long story short, my search was successful.  When I walked into Ten Thousand Villages, 235 Princess Street, right in front of me was a display of golden wrapped fair trade chocolate Easter  eggs, made by Divine Chocolate Ltd. of the UK.   As well, at the back of the store I found a wide assortment of Divine and Ten Thousand Villages fair trade chocolate bars. 

Another local shop that sells Divine Chocolate and other fair trade items is Mola Mola, located at 163 ½ Alfred St.  Tara Natural Foods, at 81 Princess St., also sells fair trade chocolate bars.  There may be other small shops selling fair trade chocolate in Kingston—perhaps add a comment if you know of one.

Cocoa for Divine Chocolate Easter Eggs is from Ghana

Divine Chocolate is made from cocoa farmed in Ghana by the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa growers’ cooperative.  This cooperative represents 45,000 small farmers and is a co-owner of the Divine Chocolate company.  Kuapa Kokoo farmers earn fair trade prices and premiums for their crops; they also participate in the profits from Divine product sales, through shareholder dividends.

Why the interest in Fair Trade Easter Eggs?

Cocoa is not grown in Canada—so it makes sense to buy cocoa harvested by small farmers who are receiving a fair price for their produce through the fair trade certification system.  International fair trade standards have expectations for all participants—from growers to sellers of finished products.  Growers join fair trade cooperatives that are paid the global market price or a minimum price, if higher.  Crops are grown according to standards that include sustainable practices and pesticide limitations.  There are also standards for worker safety and fairness. 

Fair trade chocolate bears a certification mark on the packaging and the fine print tells you which ingredients are certified.  More than 50% by dry weight must come from fair trade certified producers. There are a few certification marks that may be seen on fair trade chocolate products in Canada—the most current symbol, indicating certification by Fairtrade Canada or Fairtrade International, is  shown on the left.

More Fair Trade Shopping

Supporting local shops is ideal.  My internet search turned up the following fair trade specialists in Kingston, ON.  There may be more of course, but this list is at least a start:

CoffeeCo—An organic, fair trade coffee roaster, wholesaler, retailer, and espresso bar provider, an offshoot of Multatuli Coffee merchants.  This summer they are opening a new cafe that will serve organic and fair trade coffees and teas near Gardiner Rd. and Taylor Kidd (675 Arlington Place).

Earth to Spirit—Fair Trade Arts and Crafts Gallery, 340 King St. East.

Mola Mola—sells fair trade gift baskets at 163 ½ Alfred St.

Ten Thousand Villages—sells a wide range of items, such as household decorations, toys, clothing, coffee and chocolate. Ten Thousand Villages is a Fair Trade Organization with 29 stores across Canada. The Kingston location is 235 Princess Street.

When specialty shops are not located conveniently nearby, internet shopping for fair trade is another option.  Worldofgood.com  is an eBay marketplace specializing in fair trade and other positive products that are people, animal, and eco-friendly.  I searched for fair trade chocolate Easter eggs on this website and discovered that they sell Divine fair trade Easter eggs.


Solar Barbecue Distributed in Canada

Sky by Dan

The other day I wrote about my search for solar barbecues.  Today I have learned that the Cookup200, featured in my blog, and other solar cookers made by iDCOOK of France, have an exclusive distributor in Canada.  To read  the previous blog and view videos of the Cookup200, go to  http://wp.me/p15xmB-7p.

Here are the contact details for the distributor:

ECOLO-SOLAIRE,  www. ecolo-solaire@live.ca

Looking for a Clean Energy Solar Barbecue

Searching for a solar barbecue, I discovered the COOKUP200 from France–check out the videos below.

 I’ve been spending the last few days looking for a  propane gas barbecue alternative.  Having recently moved to a house, I don’t have a barbecue– so I’m open to considering alternatives that don’t burn fossil fuel.  It’s wonderful to cook and eat outdoors, but do I want to buy into a barbecue that burns a non-renewable resource and increases carbon emissions? 

Finding an option is easier said than done.   I’ve discovered  that  products are written about but hard to track down.  Many resourceful people have been making their own solar cooking gadgets—they’ve even published instructions and videos on how to make your own.  However I’m not a techy type. 

Finally I found some videos for a product that looks like it might be what I’m looking for.  I’m not sure if it’s available in North America, but hopefully it is, or something similar will be manufactured soon.  (Update: it’s distributed in Canada!–see March 28, 2011 blog at  http://wp.me/p15xmB-7Y).  

The Solar Cooker that I “discovered” (along with thousands of others browsing YouTube)

Who could not enjoy the shiny optics of this COOKUP200, made in France, and sold from http://idcook.com?  I am looking into whether it is available in North America.  In the meantime, it’s an example of what I’m looking for–a solar barbecue.  The specs state that it heats to over 2oo degrees C. (about 400 F)  and has the capacity to cook a meal for 5.  It can be used for grilling, simmering, and steaming, using a black grill, pot, or wok.  The price is 499.95 Euros, which is about $691 CDN.

 The founder of IDCook,  manufacturer of the Cookup200, was at the International Home and Housewares Show, 2011 in Chicago.  He demonstrates a solar barbecue in the following clip:

Earth Hour Pledge to Save Energy with CFL Light Bulbs


Source: Scottchan, freedigitalphotos.net

Earth Hour is about joining in with a global event  and about making one or more pledges to conserve energy and natural resources.  One of my Earth Hour pledges is to use  energy-efficient light bulbs in my home.

 Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) are currently the best way to go.  Why?
  •  CFLs use only ¼ of the energy used by incandescent bulbs–that means 75% less electricity per unit of light (lumen) and potentially 75% less carbon emissions.
  •  CFLs can be recycled, by disposal at a retail store, such as Home Depot, or at a municipal hazardous waste facility (for residents of Kingston and Loyalist Township, at 196 Lappan’s Lane, Kingston).  For other disposal options, go to www.makethedrop.ca.
  • CFL bulbs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

British Columbia restricts incandescent sales.  Did you know that there has been a ban on the sale of 75 watt and 100 watt incandescent light bulbs in B.C., since January of this year?  And in January 2012, federal regulations will also place restrictions on incandescent sales.

What about mercury in CFLs?  There is mercury in CFLs, but the amount is very very small—apparently, less than the amount found in a watch battery or dental filling.  Mercury is present in the environment generally, and unfortunately, also in tuna fish.    When we burn coal for power, mercury and other toxins are released.  It has been argued that using CFLs reduces emissions from “dirty” energy sources, by reducing energy consumption (see “Keep Light Bulb Hazards in Perspective”, by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola, June 2007).

 What if a CFL light bulb breaks?  Because there is a small amount of mercury in CFLs, it’s important to dispose of them at a special facility (see above).  If a CFL should break, some caution is required, to prevent harm to people and pets:

  •  Open a window or door for ventilation,
  • Turn off air conditioner or forced air heating,
  •  Leave the room for five to 10 minutes,
  • While out of the room, get ready to do a careful cleanup,  reviewing the suggestions offered by Natural Resources Canada  or the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Are there other energy-efficient options besides CFLs?  Yes there are.  There are two other leaders in energy efficiency—the key number to know is lumens (light) per watt, also called the “LPW”.  HID bulbs provide 120 lumens per watt,  CFLs offer 60 LPW, and LEDs offer 45 LPW.  CFLs are still in the lead due to lower price, excellent LPW,  and a large range of applications. (For more details, take a look at a bulb comparison chart.)

Another guideline for purchasing bulbs is to only purchase those that are EnergyStar certified, to ensure top quality.  And don’t forget to take advantage of the coupons offered by the Ontario Power Authority. You may have received some in the mail—it is also possible to print them from the following website:  saveonenergy.ca.  They’re effective up until the end of 2011 and include discounts for other energy-saving items, such as timer power bars, water heater insulation blankets, and programmable thermostats for electric baseboard heaters.