Maui Slow Fooders Sample Fair Trade Products
By Susan Halas
Mauians sampled fair trade products and recipes at the Maui Culinary Academy on May 9. Slow Food Maui hosted the taste education workshop which drew about 25 people to the UH Maui campus.
Not the least of the evening’s attractions included a goodie bag of samples including grain, beverages, beauty products and dark chocolate included in the price of admission.
The event was in celebration of Fair Trade Day, observed this year on May 12.
“We should know where our shopping dollars are going,” said Elyse Ditzel, Maui Whole Foods director of marketing. Ditzel displayed a selection of products at the start of the evening and gave a brief explanation of fair trade, calling it “a social movement and a market model for equitable sustainable development and fair practices.”
“Fair trade trade policies,” Ditzel said, include “the elimination of exploitative practices such as child labor and call for paying fair wages around the world. We can make an important impact on families here at home by buying local. When consumers support fair trade practices and standards it creates a big ripple effect.”
Fair Trade Coral Rice, Quinoa, and No-Bake Cookies Sampled
Guests sampled three different recipes prepared by Maui Culinary Academy students headed by chef-in-training Leann Krickler. The fair trade products used in the tasting workshop were donated by Whole Foods Market.
First on the sampling menu was a simple but flavorful coral rice soup made with free trade Alter Eco rice, a finely diced ham, broth and fresh slender locally grown organic asparagus.
Dan Munz and Vicki Levin, guests from Haiku, both pronounced it delicious. It was so delicious in fact that many of the guests, including Maui Now, came back for seconds.
Next was a quinoa patty mixed with feta and spinach and lightly fried like a burger. Many of the diners commented on the crunchy texture of the grain product.
For a few it was their first opportunity to taste quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Quinoa is enjoying a burst of popularity in the food world. This is due in part to the fact that it is gluten-free and one of the few plant sources of complete protein – a feature generally found in animal products such as meat, fish and dairy.
Participants were enthusiastic about the dish. They provided a variety of suggestions for modifying the recipe, including upping the feta, lowering the pepper and adding a chutney to accent to the nut-like texture of the grain.
Last on came a no-bake cookie using fair trade sugar, coconut oil, peanut butter and nuts. The finished product was a sweet and crunchy mixture that was almost fudge-like in consistency.
Slow Food member Karl Sauer and his friend Seiko Ichikawa, both of Kula, a were typical of those who attended. They enjoyed demonstrations and liked trying new things.
A Big Bag of Samples
Guests were also pleased that the $15 admission included a variety of samples.
Along with a sturdy canvas bag promoting Equal Exchange Coffee, there was also a pair of 99% organic cotton socks from Maggie’s, Velvet dark chocolate from Alter Eco and a box of Guayaki Yerba Mate, an energy and nutrition beverage brewed in a similar manner to tea.
The tote also contained an 8 oz package of Alter Eco quinoa and a big jar of Dr. Bronner’s organic fair trade coconut oil. Samples of facial cleansers from Alaffia sustainable skin care and shaving gel from Dr. Bronner’s were also among the gifts.
Those with a sweet tooth were particularly pleased with the large bar of Equal Exchange chocolate caramel crunch made with 55% cacao and a pleasant sea salt accent. Not only was the candy fair traded and certified organic, but also kosher (and yummy).
The tag line on the label read: “Small Farmers Big Change. By choosing equal exchange fairly traded products, you support a food system that builds strong farming communities, creates a more equitable trade model and preserves our planet through sustainable farming methods.”
Along with edibles, guests also received a variety of recipes, handouts explaining the basics of fair trade in more detail and a magazine from the Fair World Project containing articles on fair trade policy, farming and products.