Use your purchasing power to snag some of the tastiest foods on the planet all while dabbling in a bit of global philanthropy.
Most of us easily spend a couple of dollars here and there to indulge in trendy juice drinks, energy bars, and even cups of coffee. So it's amazing to think that our snack and beverage picks might influence the quality of life somewhere else a world away, doing things like keeping environments healthy and sustainable, feeding hungry children, or building wells for clean water. Seems like a win-win scenario. We munch, they benefit. So check out some our favorite-tasting global do-gooders. Many are fair-trade products; others are just do-good companies making a difference in their own unique way.
Pitaya Plus Super Juice
Made with trendy dragon fruit (pitaya) and coconut water, pretty pink Pitaya Plus Super Juice tastes like a refreshingly grown up version of fruit punch. Not too sweet, it's loaded with antioxidants, vitamin D, and even fiber, making it a perfect thirst quencher for anyone looking for a low-sugar, high-flavor splurge.
Social mission: To create employment for poverty stricken single moms in Nicaragua. Paid well above minimum wage, moms also receive contributions to their social security. New on the agenda: a plan for working with farmers to provide higher cash for crops and schools for their communities.
Where to buy: Natural food markets, 150 Whole Foods stores on the West Coast and at pitayaplus.com
Tanzania Chocolate Bar
Made by former legal beagle turned chocolatier, Shawn Askinosie, delicious Tanzania Chocolate Bars are helping acquaint school kids in one Missouri neighborhood with a world beyond their own. As part of a project called "Chocolate University," Askinosie recruits neighborhood high schoolers to learn the bean to bar process all while keeping an eye toward philanthropy. Students have the chance to help select, and then visit, cacao farmers.
Social mission: Profits helped to build a deep water well that provides clean water to the 2,000 villagers in Tenede, a remote village in Tanzania where beans for the bar are grown.
Where to buy: At more than 300 specialty food stores including The Meadow in Manhattan, Whole Foods, Central Market in Texas, and online
Teatulia Organic Whole Leaf Tea
Nestled in silky triangle shaped pouches, Teatulia Organic Whole Leaf Tea comes in luscious and unusual flavors like lemongrass, ginger herb, and Neem nectar. But what sets this whole leaf tea apart from contenders is an almost unheard of freshness factor. Shipped direct from the garden, it never sits in a warehouse. Another plus: Tea bags are biodegradable and packaging is compostable.
Social Mission: To help Bangladeshi men and women earn a living wage. Profits go into rebuilding the local ecosystem, education, health care, and cattle-lending programs that benefit both tea garden workers and others living in the area.
Where to buy: Restaurants, coffee shops, specialty stores, Whole Foods, and at www.teatulia.com
Two Degrees Bar
Flavors like cherry almond, apple pecan, and chocolate peanut taste every bit as good as they sound. And for fans of chewy cookie-like energy bars these Two Degrees Bars deliver plenty of good nutrition. But then they keep on giving. In a Tom's shoes-like model, each bar you buy goes on to provide good eats (a nutrition pack) to a malnourished child in Malawi, Africa.
Social Mission: To feed 200 million hungry children, one nutrition pack at a time. A dense paste of nuts, seeds, other good ingredients, packs help combat malnutrition with a 95% success rate.
Where to buy: Scattered locations across the country including markets, fitness clubs, college campuses and even the Boston Opera House, or online at twodegreesfood.com
Himalaya Soliga Forest Organic Honey
Dark in color and rich in taste, you'll want to reserve distinct Himalaya Soliga Forest Organic Honey as a finishing touch to drizzle on fresh fruits like figs or maybe a slice of toast. It's sustainably harvested by a nature-loving indigenous tribe (the Soliga) living in the forests of Southern India. In recent years the tribe has struggled with poverty as laws forbid them to grow and hunt on their native forest land.
Social Mission: A health care products company pays 1,000 honey collectors fair trade prices for their harvest, an income that allows tribe members to live and work in the same sustainable way they have for hundreds of years.
Where to buy: www.soligahoney.com
Kopali Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Mulberries
A sweet chewy fruit rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and iron, the mulberry is coming back into favor. If you've ever been around a mulberry tree (remember that fruit that stained the sidewalk purple when you were a kid) you know this little berry is fragile. So these little ones from Kopali Organic come dried and coated in dark chocolate.
Social Mission: Kopali started out with bananas and a plan to protect the rainforest, ecosystems, and farmers in Costa Rica. But its new mission extends to thousands of farmers around the globe with different fruits to nourish and heal the planet.
Where to buy: Wegman's, Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and Amazon.com
Green Mountain Coffee Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
Harvested in the Sidamo region of Eastern Ethiopia, mild Green Mountain Coffee Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe roast coffee wins over aficionados with its subtle hints of orange blossom, caramel, and chocolate. Green Mountain buys the beans from the Oromia Coffee Famers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) helping ensure a higher quality of life for farmers.
Social Mission: While about 12 million Ethiopians depend on the coffee industry for their livelihood, farmers belonging to OCFCU have significant advantages that let them build new homes, educate their children, and enjoy an improved quality of life.
Where to buy: Online or at natural food stores