The Faces Behind Your Food
Everyday we happily consume food from far and near, and very rarely do we actually know how it came to be on our plate. The source of my meals is constantly on my mind, and that concern has been a driving force in how I have decided on which ingredients to use in our granola. I am always researching the ethical and environmental components of my ingredients, aiming to source those which are most aligned with my values. I wish I could say that everything we use was organically produced by happy, prosperous farmers right here on Vancouver Island, but we live in a complicated world, and I am rather limited in how much organic-fairtrade-ethical-local product I can buy in vast enough quantities to keep my customers satisfied with the tasty recipes I have created. And, despite my research, there is so much ‘green-washing’, false marketing and general lack of real information out there, I still cannot guarantee that my efforts to find ingredients we can feel good about have been fruitful.
What I can promise though is that the tropical fruit we use in our Giving Granola recipe is truly organic, beyond fair-trade, and insanely delicious. I know this for a fact because I have had the good fortune to connect directly with the people who produce it.
What good is success if you can’t share it?
Anybody starting a business should always look around them and see what other businesses are doing, and which ones are good role models. As soon as I decided to move Singing Bowl Granola beyond the farmers’ markets, I set my eyes on local fair-trade heroes Level Ground Trading. I loved the way they connected directly with the farmers, supported them through transitioning to organic, and paid them fairly for their delicious wares. Level Ground goes beyond basic fair-trade standards, building up communities all over the world, ensuring that the farming families have access to medical care and education. Early on in this biz, I was scheming about how I could team up with Level Ground and participate in some of their great work.
The Universe works in mysterious ways. A few months after I started thinking about approaching Level Ground, I got an email from them asking if I’d consider using some of their products in my granola. Ha! I’d already created a recipe made with their tropical dried fruits and was looking for a name for it (the name is so important!). You see, with my obsession about connecting with our food sources. I had this idea of making this tropical granola with Level Ground’s Colombian fruit and then sharing the profits with the actual women who process the fruit in their sister company Fruandes. When I read their email that morning, I instantly fired back my idea, and it was met with enthusiasm, and ‘Giving Granola’ was born.
Fortunately, Level Ground Trading’s CEO hails from Colombia, so every winter he makes a trip to connect with the farmers and see how things are going at Fruandes (and probably to enjoy some sunshine). Since 2014, Hugo has been taking 50% of the profits from the Giving Granola sales with him to distribute to several Fruandes employees who have been selected by the supervisor according to either their financial needs or contributions to the company. All of the recipients are women, usually in need of improved housing. Over the past few years, Level Ground has matched our donations to ensure that each women receives approximately the equivalent of one month’s salary from the Giving Granola project. In return, I get the reassurance that our fruit comes from an ethical source, I get to connect with the humans providing it, and I get photos and videos of the women being surprised with an envelope of cash and a bag of Giving Granola. The full circle of food complete.
And we’ve done it again. Let me introduce to you the 2017 recipients of our Giving Granola funds. These lovely women were selected by the supervisor for their dedication to Fruandes and the excellent work they do. Here is how they responded when they were awarded their share of the Giving Granola sales.
Paola - “I wanted to thank everyone at Fruandes for providing this opportunity and thank you because there are many people who would have also liked to receive this prize. I believe that more than anything we are here because we have helped them just like when we started in this company. Thank you very much to the person who gave us this prize. It’s a great help to everyone who is part of this company.”
Rosita - “Thank you very much for this generous prize. I thank god every day for this big family that I have here in Fruandes. Thank you to everyone who made this gift possible. God bless you all. Thank you very much for everything.
Argenis – “Good afternoon. I wanted to thank all the people that took note of us for this prize. We didn’t expect this. It was a beautiful surprise. The other surprise was that Fruandes was able to integrate us in all of its concepts, which is very important for us in order to be more active, with more excitement and more energy for our work. I very much appreciate this gift. Thank you!”
For more information on Fruandes and the women who work there preparing the fruit we eat, visit the Giving Back page on our website https://www.singingbowlgranola.com/pages/giving-back.