Local foods are all the rage. But don't overlook products just because they contain far-off ingredients. When done right, crops grown in developing countries can improve farming communities around the globe. Here's how to spot the best options.
Brands can say they responsibly source ingredients such as chocolate and coffee. But “responsible” isn’t a regulated term, and it can mean different things to different companies. That’s where third-party certification agencies like Fair Trade USA and Fair for Life come in. These organizations audit companies that want to print a certification label on the package—and ensure that farmers and their employees are paid fair wages, work in safe conditions and uphold sustainable farm practices.
Try: Harmless Harvest Coffee Coconut Water
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Although single-origin coffee and tea have been available for years, increasingly more companies are sourcing single-origin ingredients for products ranging from rice to ice cream. According to the Real Co—which sells rice, salt and sugar—single origin is a method of buying crops through a partnership with just one farm or grower. Single origin fosters supply chain transparency because when just one farm is involved in production, it’s easier to know where food comes from and how it was grown.
Try: Choctál Single-Origin Ice Cream Tour; The Real Co Organic Raw Cane Sugar
Brands often source ingredients overseas, transport it to the U.S. and then process it in stateside facilities. But some companies are committed to increasing jobs in farming communities by manufacturing products in country, too. For example, chocolate company Madecasse sources cacao beans and manufactures chocolate bars in Madagascar to provide meaningful incomes to more than 200 people.
Try: Big Tree Farms Raw Cacao Powder; Madecasse 63% Dark Mint Crunch