We all know that the holiday season can be a time of excess. We consume an awful lot of food and drink this time of year, perhaps without thinking about those less fortunate. Today on Food Matters, I talked with All Points West host Jo-Ann Roberts about a few ideas for gifts that keep on giving in the world of food that have the added bonus of being ethical and sustainable. One of the first places I tell people to visit is World Vision Canada. World Vision is Canada’s largest private relief and development agency. The Canadian arm of the charity goes all the way back to 1957 and they do a great job of helping you give gifts in someone’s name that aren’t simple relief, but a way of helping people climb out of hunger and poverty on a more permanent basis.
Get your hands on a World Vision Christmas catalogue or again, go to world vision dot ca and click on Gift Catalogue, and if you’re interested in these long-term type of gifts click specifically on ‘animals’ or ‘hunger’. When you click on animals you will find quite a few listings for live farm animals you can donate to families in need around the world. For example, you can give $100 and purchase a goat and two chickens for a family in need. The chickens, as they multiply, provide eggs to eat and to sell if there are excess, as well as a source of meat.
A dairy goat can provide up to 16 cups of milk a day which is loaded with protein and minerals and is easy to digest. And the animals also provide a source of manure that is used to fertilize crops, so it creates a very sustainable circle of life for those who need a way to take care of themselves.
The menagerie of animals available has expanded since the last time I checked the catalog. You can purchase ducks, rabbits, sheep, pigs, donkeys, alpacas, a dairy cow, even a beehive and bees. Prices range from 25 dollars all the way up to filling a farmyard or stable with up to 28 animals for $2000, which can be a great gift that your office or sports group folks could all chip into.
This is not just a random distribution of charity. Along with the animals comes training. Especially for something like a beehive with which you need some specialized training in how to handle the bees and harvest the honey. World Vision wants these gifts to help families and villages with sustainable development so they can break out of the cycle of poverty and start providing a future for the children in the community. Part of helping out from here can also be contributing to clean water projects, foot pumps that help people irrigate their crops, and packages of seeds and tools to help grow and harvest more food.
If you are thinking about giving one large family gift instead of individual gifts, why not the gift of a share in a Community Supported Agriculture program? CSA’s can even be called ‘trendy’ now, and some farms even have a waiting list for people who want to join. I’ve talked about a couple of them in the past on the show, but CSA’s run like this: You pay a farmer up front, and this is a great time of year for them to have some money coming in, and then during harvest season you either pick up or have delivered a box of the best produce they have to offer that week which is a share of what is being produced at the farm. It’s a great way to increase your vegetable and fruit intake, and at the same time you’re helping a farmer stay in business and have a guaranteed source of income for theyear.
And if you can’t get access to a CSA, why not consider an organic grocery delivery service like Share Organics, which delivers, mostly by bicycle, to many communities on South Vancouver Island including Victoria and Langford. They use as much as possible Vancouver Island products to put in your box.
Denman Island Chocolate
For stocking stuffers, I like to look local producers to help keep them in business and either fair trade or organic. Denman Island Chocolate has some great chocolate Santas available this time of year, along with the regular nine different varieties of chocolate bar. You could always introduce a friend to some fair trade, organic coffee from Salt Spring Coffee and why not some Vancouver Island Salt, produced in the Cowichan Valley? Giving a gift basket stuffed with local ingredients is a great way to say I care.
I will be back next week with my last minute cookbook suggestions and don’t forget our contest is still running for that brand new KitchenAid food processor. To enter the contest, which has a deadline of December 19th, go to this post and scroll down to the comments section to submit your entry.
To learn more about chocolate bar stocking stuffers, many of which are fair-trade and/or organic, you can listen to my conversation with Jed Grieve about the 70-bar selection of chocolate available at Cook Culture in Victoria. Jed starts off by talking about Victoria chef David Mincey, who is responsible for bringing all this wonderful chocolate to Canada.