Everyone likes to eat — why not use it as an opportunity to support small producers and brands committed to environmental and social values as well. Here are a few delicious edible gift ideas that pay respect to the farmers and the people who make them possible.
A small dairy in operation since 1959 and started by the von Trapps who immigrated to the U.S. from Austria, now third-generation Sebastian von Trapp has added cheese to their offering. In 2009, he saw the opportunity to get more value for their milk through cheese production. A proponent of regenerative agriculture, von Trapp says, “While organic is a wonderful system, it focuses more on what one cannot do. Regenerative agriculture takes organic one step further by saying what you can do.”
This curation features a bit of everything: from soft, bloomy rind Mt. Alice to Savage, an aged hard alpine cheese — ideal for the cheesehead of the family.
In addition to conquering the castile soap category, Dr. Bronner’s has now forayed into chocolates. The Magic All-One Chocolate Bars are Vegan, Organic, and Fair-Trade certified, and come in 6 flavors, including Salted Dark, Roasted Whole Hazelnuts, Crunchy Hazelnut Butter, Salted Whole Almonds, Salted Almond Butter, and Smooth Coconut Praline.
The 800 farmers who supply the brand’s Regenerative Organic Certified palm oil in Ghana also grow cocoa plants; this agroforestry approach creates biodiversity, improves yields and income streams, and eliminates the need to use toxic chemicals by replicating the way plant species naturally support each other in a healthy tropical forest.
From Northern Colombia in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal mountain range in the tropics and isolated from the Andes, this coffee will make a lovely addition every morning. Grown largely by the indigenous tribe Arhuaco, this group of farmers is special to us the GoodSam team: they also buy their organic cacao. Multiple streams of income throughout the year for their farmers is the basis of the company’s efforts to help farmers utilize all their land fruitfully and economically.
Jacobsen Salt just celebrated ten years. And for their 10th anniversary, they raised funds for a local non-profit, the Elakha Alliance, which is working to restore a healthy population of sea otters on the Oregon coast. Those tins have sold out now. But Jacobsen continues to work in tandem with nature to harvest these salts. The pure sea salt flakes will elevate any dish — even the humble fried egg. A perfect gift for those who prize the simple things in life.
Fourth-generation farming family behind ENZO’s Table in California added a new flavor to their estate-grown almond butter lineup—ENZO’s Table Chocolate Almond Butter, made with Guittard Chocolate. Handcrafted in small batches using nonpareil almonds grown on the Ricchiuti family farm (often called the ‘Cadillac’ of almonds), the spread has no added salt and features their Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (with low sugar content). For the Nutella-lover, here’s a healthier, natural alternative to spread on that toast.
Portland-based Sarah Marshall produces a collection of hot sauces in small batches herself using produce that comes from local farmers. Her products are made without binders, artificial preservatives or dyes, and they are gluten free, vegetarian and vegan. Give her love of gardening and her background in home preserving, she started the venture to showcase how hot sauces could made fresher and lighter using seasonal produce.
Ten years ago, Louisa Conrad and Lucas Farrell started Big Picture Farm, a small hillside goat dairy and farmstead confectionery and creamery in southern Vermont. Their award-winning caramels are made from organic goat’s milk. The herd of 40 goats responsible for these sweet treats features prominently on their packaging and is part of an animal-welfare-approved farm. The duo prize their sweets to be “farmstead” — that is they’re made in small batches, and each batch could vary in flavor slightly given this is not a mechanized process, nor do they want it to be one.
While it may be a bit cumbersome to ship flour around the country, a gift card from Maine Grains for the baker is a wonderful gift and an opportunity for him/her to discover the revival of a localized grain economy in New England. Selling more unique varieties of flour and heritage grains, Maine Grains
Amber Lambke, CEO of Maine Grains, restored a jail into a mill with the help of a crowdfunding campaign, grants, and loans. Located in central Maine, an area where half the population qualified for supplemental nutritional assistance programs (SNAP), Lambke wanted to create jobs and a hub for the local community. It’s not only revived an interest in organic stone-ground grains but supported local farmers and budding food entrepreneurs.
Beyond Good has a unique model in the world of chocolate-making. Theirs are made in Madagascar (and Uganda) in an effort to create more jobs and value for those closer to the supply chain. In addition, Beyond Good’s been doing agroforestry (before it was a trend) and supporting research on how its cocoa trees amidst a forest could be a haven for the native lemur population (which are on the brink of being extinct) — and feature so prominently in their branding and on their packaging.
Plus, the variety of cocoa sourced from Madagascar, known as criollo, is an heirloom variety that comes through beautifully in these dark chocolate flavors.
If you’re seeking truffles with better ingredients, Alter Eco’s cannot be beat. While tasting divine, they’re also helping further along the movement toward regenerative agriculture in the world of chocolate, and their truffles are palm oil-free. Instead, they use coconut oil to give it that rich, decadent texture. With a foundation now devoted to “fixing food” and its effects on climate change, Alter Eco has been very vocal on how companies can create positive impact, if they wish.
Saltverk’s medley of salts feature the scents, sights, and flavors of Iceland: arctic thyme (which grows wild), smoked birch, and lava salts. These hand harvested salts are procured thanks to the country’s geothermal energy, which has been harnessed (through trial and error) and now is an integral part of the company’s identity. Based in the Westfjords, accessing their salt workshop takes some planning, particularly in the winter months, when weather conditions can lock in whole communities. So for the global traveler (who has perhaps been stuck at home during the pandemic), these salts may transport to him/her to the frigid beauty that is Iceland.
This woman-led business started with the founder’s desire to step away from the hustle-bustle of Wall Street to a more rural life in Washington state on Orcas Island, a region known for its stone fruits. She started a small company specializing in jams and fruit-based creations using the bounty of the land. Today, its a family-run operation with her husband as she juggles motherhood and being an entrepreneur. The full-sized spoon preserves in this box, which tells the story of Orcas Island couple nicely with cheese or can be savored on a croissant: Salted Apple Caramel, Rhubarb Lavender, Orcas Pear with Bay, and Pear Balsamic.