Tag Archive | organic

Cheap organic fair trade hand soap

It may seem like some sort of contradiction, but it’s legit and ridiculously simple. Find any flavor of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap — which is fully organic and fair trade certified. Then take a foaming hand soap dispenser (the ones from Method are nice), fill it perhaps 1/8th full with Bronner’s soap, and fill the remainder with water. That’s it.

You can use one of the scented varieties, or just get the basic one (called Baby Mild) and add some essential oils yourself if you like. Dr. Bronner’s soap comes in large containers that are relatively inexpensive, and you don’t need very much of it for any of its numerous uses. It certainly works out cheaper than any of the chemical-laden cleansers/washes that are sold at the same concentration in which they are used.

Apart from the cost and ingredient sourcing, this does make for a pretty nice hand soap, in my opinion.


Fair trade organic coffee (and only coffee)

The ubiquity of fair trade organic coffee is a bit puzzling. I guess coffee is something people take particular pride in? Regardless, the reason I find it strange is because the coffee tends to be the only thing available fair trade or organic in establishments that carry fair trade organic coffee. In this area, a couple of such places are City Cafe Bakery and the University of Waterloo coffee shops, but I’ve seen it elsewhere as well.

You’d think that at least the coffee-related things would get lumped in, but this is not the case. The sugar tends to be just regular refined sugar, or perhaps “raw” sugar; but never fair trade or organic. The milk and cream are usually the conventional stuff, with the latter also generally having all the thickeners and stabilizers. In my view, it is at least as important to support organic farming practices closer to home (i.e. for cream) as it is to do the same on the other side of the world.

The only place I have ever seen go all the way with coffee and its add-ins is eXhibit Cafe at the Children’s Museum in downtown Kitchener — though the name gives away that it may be trying to prove a point.

Kamut and marketing

There’s a decent chance you’ve heard of Kamut grain. It’s in cereals, some breads, pasta, and so on, especially ones found in health food stores. Think back to the last time you had it; was it organic?

The answer is yes, it was. That’s because Kamut is actually Kamut®, a registered trademark of Kamut International. The grain is generically known as khorasan wheat, a heritage variety of wheat that was barely cultivated until one Bob Quinn decided to market it. As near as I can tell, the company currently contracts with farmers in various parts of the world, though mostly around Saskatchewan and Montana, to grow their wheat, pays them a fixed high price, and then markets the resulting products.

Here’s the twist: Kamut International does not own the grain. What they do is ensure for the consumer a standard for the production of that variety of wheat, which standard includes that it be certified organic and free of other wheat contaminants. You can peruse their justification for using a trademark.

The intriguing thing about this business model is that the company has popularized the name Kamut and created both a supply of it as well as a rapidly growing consumer demand for it. Success for Kamut the brand leads quite directly to increased organic agriculture and more money for wheat farmers. It is probable that eventually generic khorasan wheat will appropriate for itself the name “kamut” and the corresponding market share. But I don’t see that serving any particular interests right now, so it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

I’d always found it somewhat odd to see an ingredient in various organic foods be something trademarked, but I was pleasantly surprised by the results of this investigation.