Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Urban Moonshine this week and all of their wonderful wellness products are 20% off for member-owners from January 11th – 17th. They offer a wide range of high-quality organic products ranging from digestive bitters for your belly, to tonics that pick you up or simmer you down. With a strong emphasis on ethical sourcing processes and a mission to make herbalism more accessible, we’re happy to shed a little light on this women-run company hailing from Burlington, Vermont. Read on to learn more about them:
Urban Moonshine was founded in 2008 in Jovial King’s kitchen with the goal of making herbal medicine more accessible. They specialize in high quality liquid herbal extracts with a focus on digestive bitters, herbal tonics, and everyday health remedies. Urban Moonshine has grown from a booth at the local farmers’ market to a nationally distributed and recognized brand while staying true to its mission of bringing high-quality, certified organic herbal medicine to more people and changing the way we think about the healing power of plants. They aim to return the use of herbal medicine to daily life, to bring it “out of the cupboard and onto the counter”. They see their herbal products as part of a growing wellness movement, focused on authentic, effective, whole plant solutions. Urban Moonshine is based in beautiful Burlington, VT and is proud to be a woman-run company.
An extremely big moment in the Urban Moonshine story occurred last month: the amazing independent herbal tea company Traditional Medicinals acquired Urban Moonshine! Fundamental to that story is that Traditional Medicinals was co-founded in Sebastopol, CA in the early 70’s by one of Vermont’s most beloved/legendary herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, who was also one of Urban Moonshine founder Jovial’s first herbal teachers! Both companies are on the same path bringing high quality, organic herbal medicine into more people’s lives and they’re thrilled to be able to lean on Traditional Medicinal’s experience to help continue to build Urban Moonshine from the small kitchen to farmers’ market business Jovial started in 2009.
Both botanical wellness companies are aligned with the usage of high-quality organic ingredients, ethical sourcing processes and a mission to make herbalism more accessible by connecting people to the power of plants. Traditional Medicinals and Urban Moonshine will continue to operate separately and retain existing headquarters in Sonoma County, CA and Burlington, VT.
We’re shining the Member Deals Spotlight on Niman Ranch this week to celebrate their efforts to provide all-natural meats raised by family farmers committed to sustainable & humane practices. All of their meats will be 20% off for member-owners from December 28th – January 3rd. Read on to learn more about Niman Ranch, their dedication to sustainable meat, and the small family farmers who make it possible.
Niman Ranch began in the early 1970’s on an eleven-acre ranch in a small coastal town just north of San Francisco. The cattle were raised using traditional, humane husbandry methods and given wholesome all-natural feeds. Before long, Niman Ranch beef became a favorite in local grocery stores and at San Francisco Bay Area restaurants. Today, the Niman Ranch network has grown to include over 700 independent American farmers & ranchers, who all share Niman Ranch’s dedication to the strictest protocols. Their meats are humanely raised, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed only the finest all vegetarian feeds.
Niman Ranch believes that sustainable agriculture is best described as livestock raising and production practices which balance current resource demands without compromising the future of these resources from an environmental, economic, and human perspective. They also believe that sustainability does not end with the farmer and must carry throughout the supply chain. For this reason, they choose to raise livestock in areas where feed sources are locally available to reduce the environmental impact of feed transport. Sustainability at Niman Ranch incorporates sustainable agricultural practices with economic sustainability for the farmers, the ranchers, their customers, and their employees; all of which are an integral part of their overall business philosophy of RAISED WITH CARE.
The Niman Ranch Top 10 Sustainability Best Practices
Pay farmers a premium in accordance to strict raising protocols
Establish a floor price for farmers tied to the cost of inputs of feed and fuel
Promote agricultural biodiversity by using breeds which thrive in their natural environment
Practice genetic diversity to keep breeds healthy over generations
Maintain livestock density well below conventional industry standards so as not to overburden the land
Raise livestock in geographies where feed is locally available to reduce carbon footprint incurred during transport
Mitigate soil erosion and/or loss through maintaining pasture with coverage for livestock, crop rotation, rotational grazing, and responsible waste/manure management
Prohibit use of concentrated liquid manure systems
Use buffer strips and grassed waterways
Provide a robust marketplace for farmers and ranchers and their livestock
Humane Animal Care
All Niman Ranch livestock are humanely raised according to the strictest animal handling protocols. These protocols were written based on the recommendations of animal handling expert Dr. Temple Grandin. Here is a summary:
Livestock are raised outdoors or in deeply bedded pens
Livestock always have access to fresh, clean water
Livestock are able to express their natural behaviors in healthy social groups
All farms are gestation crate-free
Click HERE to read in-depth animal-raising protocols
Niman Ranch follows a 3-step process to ensure full compliance with their protocols.
All of their farmers and ranchers regularly complete affidavits agreeing to follow all protocols
Niman Ranch personally inspects each farm before it is accepted into their program to ensure it meets standards
The Niman Ranch field agents, located throughout the country, regularly visit and inspect the farms and ranches in their network. Niman Ranch has more field agents than sales reps!
Click HERE to read more about their practices and view maps of their farm locations
Looking to satisfy your holiday sweet tooth? We’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on Krin’s Bakery this week and member-owners can enjoy 20% off Krin’s full line of local confections from December 21st – 27th! Read on to learn more about this wonderful bakery nestled in the mountains of Huntington, VT.
Krin’s Bakery is the home of artisan baker Krin Barberi. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, then exploring and working for others, Krin opened her Bakery in 2005.
According to Krin, “We are a community of 7 Huntington women bringing diligence, humor, and really good taste buds to work every day. Our team is devoted to delicious baked goods made in small batches with deep attention to the baking process. We bring pride to our production process, using only “real” ingredients (butter instead of shortening, sugar instead of corn syrup). From ingredient choice to the mixing bowl, from oven to cooling rack, we bring that sense of pride from our kitchen to you.”
Krin is a passionate local foods activist supporting the cause by working with local distributors, markets, producers, and farmers. She takes her inspiration from her rural New England family’s tradition of supporting and participating in the life of her community. She believes that where our food comes from is important and takes pride in using local Vermont ingredients including carrots and zucchini from Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg, Bee Happy Honey from Starksboro, Huntington’s own Maple Wind Farm eggs, and dairy from Middlebury’s Monument Farms.
It is from this deep sense of community and place that Krin continues to bake love and care into each and every treat.
At the Co-op you’ll find Krin’s famous cupcakes, mini cakes, macaroons, and biscotti.
We’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on Vermont Creamery this week and offering member-owners a 20% discount on their full line of delicious dairy products from December 14th – 20th. They recently shared some big news with the community, and perhaps you’ve already heard about it, but we wanted to share the full scoop from one of their founders, Allison Hooper. Below you will find Allison’s post from their creamery blog:
With Gratitude for a Bright Future
On March 19th, Bob and I announced to our employees that we are selling our company to Land O’Lakes, the successful farmer-owned cooperative headquartered in Arden Hills, MN. After several years of searching for the right partner, we are thrilled to share this news. We are filled with a myriad of emotions: Delight that we have found a great partner. Elation that our baby Vermont Creamery is a great catch and a good fit for America’s iconic butter-maker. Nostalgia for those naïve twenty-something-year-olds starting an improbable enterprise. Energized to slow down and be present for our families. Relief that we’re leaving behind the stress of owning a business that isn’t so little anymore. Excitement that the future for Vermont Creamery and our team is bright and filled with opportunity.
Why sell now?
Bob and I are entrepreneurs. 34 years ago, back in 1984, we saw something in the future that others didn’t see. We asked: ”Why not make and sell hand-made cheeses from cows and goats milk?” We were undaunted and refreshingly optimistic. In our twenties, the risk seemed minimal as we cobbled together our $2,400 investment to make cheese in an outbuilding on a goat farm. Bob’s penchant for numbers and my intuition that Americans might eat goat cheese and crème fraiche (if they were really hungry!) fueled our passion and drive to succeed. Over the course of 34 years, we developed some scrumptious cheeses and enough customers to flourish as a business. We had just enough grit to clear the big hurdles of making a tasty cheese, keeping cash in the bank and earning a commendable trusting reputation with our customers. Who knew that this little company and America’s appetite for artisanal cheese would blossom as it has?
Today, we have a thriving and promising enterprise. Vermont Creamery cheeses and butters are sold in every state. Daily, we manage ten distinct cheesemaking technologies. Between the creamery and the farm, we employ over 105 people. We buy milk from 14 Vermont producers, 4 in Quebec and 12 in Ontario. We have accomplished a whole lot more than what we set out to do. Here is what makes Bob and I really proud:
We make amazing chèvres, crème fraîche, mascarpone, cultured butters, and geotricum rinded goats’ and cows’ milk cheeses;
We’ve stimulated a company culture that embraces transparent open-book management and rewards innovation;
Through solar energy investments on our dairy barn and improvements at the Creamery, we are hacking away at our carbon footprint;
Our B Corp certification requires commitment to higher environmental goals, less waste, and more sharing of our surpluses;
Through initiatives like the Vermont Cheese Festival and Cheese Council, we collaboratively lift all boats;
By building what we hope will become a model, transparent, environmentally conscious and sustainable goat dairy, we connect our working landscape to the good food we serve up;
Bob and I built a business partnership that has endured three decades of mistakes, triumphs, raising thoughtful children, and creating solid financial results;
We’ve personally mentored the next generation of Vermont Creamery; boy is their future bright!
Bob and I have had a good run and we know it is time for us to turn over the reigns to a team of terrific managers who have the skills to build upon what we have created. We have been intentional in hiring and developing talent at Vermont Creamery. We have already transitioned our day-to-day management to Adeline Druart, our 14- year French “intern” who came to America to learn to speak English. We promoted her to President nearly 2 years ago. Our leadership team is ready and eager for the opportunities of transition. They have a plan and a clear vision on where they will take Vermont Creamery. Equipped with the resources and expertise of Land O’Lakes, there is nothing they cannot achieve.
Bob and I do not plan to leave Vermont Creamery just yet. We will continue to attend industry events and speak on behalf of the Creamery. We have an inspiring story and love telling it. We will advise the management team through the transition. Most importantly, we will carve out the time to be students of life beyond cheese. There is a lot we’ve yet to explore and our spouses couldn’t be more excited for us to re-join them in the civilian world. Bob and I are both grandparents now, we are eager to spend more of our days at home in Vermont and less of them in distant airports promoting the cheese business.
Our work with cheese is not done. The Hooper Family will retain Ayers Brook Goat Dairy as it shoulders its way to sustainability. Our family is eager to help Miles and Daryll (Allison’s son and daughter-in-law) succeed on the farm. The Hoopers will call on Bob often for his financial counsel. We know that Vermont Creamery customers will still delight in visiting the farm. We look forward to seeing you there. Rolling up our sleeves to connect farmers with land and goats to milk is unfinished Vermont business that needs our attention.
Why Land O’Lakes?
We examined many options for fit and funding the future of Vermont Creamery. Land O’Lakes came with unprecedented enthusiasm. As the iconic company that made the butter which was in my family fridge growing up, Land O’Lakes has the know-how and resources to help Vermont Creamery realize our vision. For Land O’Lakes, they simply love what we do, our products, our leadership team, and our brand promise. And we are thrilled by Land O’Lakes’ desire to take our improbably successful family business to the next level.
Vermonters and our customers all around may feel a sense of uneasiness when a local brand sells to a larger company. We appreciate that sentiment and how this exceptional Vermont community has cheered for and supported us. We trade on the beauty of our landscape, the thoughtfulness of our Vermont practicality, our varied agriculture, and championing of humane causes. Land O’Lakes recognizes these values, shares them deeply and plans to invest significantly in the Creamery in Websterville, Vermont. The management team and all employees have been asked to stay on. Increased wages and improved benefits are scheduled and we intend to hire more production workers.
Land O’Lakes is dedicated to developing a local supply of goats’ milk. About 20 years ago, Bob and I each took short consulting stints to work for Land O’Lakes’ International Division. Our contracts brought cheesemaking, marketing, and business expertise to Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the West Bank and Bulgaria. We are familiar with Land O’Lakes’ values and effectiveness; they understand the sensitivity required in meeting a community where it is and finding synergy to realize a common vision. Bob and I were pleased to be sought out by the Land O’Lakes International Division then and look forward to similar opportunities for Vermont Creamery staff seeking this kind of growth experience.
Of all the emotions we’re feeling, gratitude is tops. We are grateful for the friends, fulfillment, and independence that our careers in cheese and farming have bestowed. We are grateful for the customers, new and old, who invigorated our drive to be the best. We are grateful for our conscientious employees who have made this business feel like family. We are grateful for raising six children (three sons each) in a family business that started from scratch. They know about hard work, their privilege, and responsibility to make the world better. We are grateful for our loving spouses, Don and Sandy, who have coached and supported us through this transition. We are grateful, that the future for the business and community we have built has never looked brighter.
Is there a delicious Italian dinner on your menu for the week? Be sure to check out Bionaturae! We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on Bionaturae from December 7th – 13th to shed a little light on this Italian-American partnership that has been bringing us a fine lineup of authentic organic Italian foods for over 20 years! All of their products are 20% off for member-owners this week, so it’s a great time to stock up on these staples. Read on to learn more about this company and their philosophy!
While majoring in Italian in college, Carla Bartolucci spent a year in Italy and met her husband, Rodolfo, who had a background in agriculture. In 1995, the two teamed up and enthusiastically created an organic selection of authentic Italian foods for the American & Canadian markets. Now, more than 20 years later, Bionaturae has remained a family-oriented, privately owned company, with a heartfelt devotion to quality and tradition.
Bionaturæ (bee-oh-na-too-ray) roughly translates to mean “organic nature.” For the founders of the company, it means this and far more. It means the celebration of Old World tradition, of authentic Italian food and of family.
So what makes their products taste so great? A few things come to mind. Rather than the Teflon dies that most commercial pasta makers have turned to, Bionature uses the original bronze dies common to traditional authentic pasta making, resulting in a coarser pasta that holds sauce exceptionally well. Equally important is the slow drying methods they incorporate. Where most modern pastas are heat dried to speed the process, Bionaturae insists on using the more traditional method, which can take as long as 14 hours to dry the pasta and avoids cooking the wheat during the drying process.
According to Carla, “In Italy, we try to eat the foods that are the most seasonal, in their most natural form, with as little done to them as possible, and to eat a wide variety so that we are getting everything we need. The wisest thing, I feel, is to eat simply prepared, organic foods. It’s important to know where your food comes from.”
Here at our Co-op, you will find Bionaturae olive oil, balsamic vinegar, many different kinds of pasta (both packaged and in bulk), tomato products, fruit spreads, and nectars!
Looking for local and sustainably made toys for the kids on your holiday shopping list? We invite you to check out our Co-op Connection Business of the Month – Maple Landmark! They’ve been making eco-friendly educational wooden toys, games, and gifts since 1979. Have you visited their factory store on Middlebury’s Exchange Street? Show your Co-op card and receive 10% off your purchases! Read on to learn more about this fantastic local business and learn why president and owner of Maple Landmark, Mike Rainville, was named the 2017 Vermont Small Business Person of the Year!
Maple Landmark is a company of 40+ people dedicated to making great products right here in Middlebury, Vermont. Their business began in 1979 in President & Owner Mike Rainville’s parents’ basement and today they occupy a 28,000-square-foot facility where they make the vast majority of the products they sell. Primarily, they sell to thousands of toy stores, gift shops and catalogs nationwide, but they also have a sweet little factory store that shouldn’t be missed by those of us lucky enough to live nearby. They take pride in being a local company that supports other local companies who operate in a responsible and sustainable manner.
A Family Business
The business was started by Michael Rainville. Since then, three more generations have joined the rank and file at Maple Landmark. The youngest are Michael’s sons, Adam and Andrew. One generation up from there is Michael, wife, Jill, and sister, Barbara. Up from there is Michael’s mother Pat and occasionally father, Claude. On the very top is “Grandma” as she’s known around the shop. This is none other than Michael’s 98-year-old (as of 2017) grandmother, Harriett Brown. While she doesn’t come to work regularly anymore, she did well into 2016 and still makes appearances every now and then.
Michael serves as president and CEO, running day-to-day operations. Jill is Office Manager, overseeing the paperwork. Barbara is the Marketing Manager, attending trade shows, working on public relations and helping in the finish room. Adam is a Project Manager, developing new products and improving old processes. Andrew heads up Communications, working on advertising, social media, and email blasts and attending trade shows. Pat is the Supervisor of our finish room and is responsible for the application of all paints and finishes in addition to hand-painted items. Claude helps in his free time, shredding paper for packing and mowing the lawn.
The wood Maple Landmark uses is from native species. They use rock maple primarily, as well as some pine and cherry. These are some of the best materials for wooden toys and gifts and we are fortunate to have them locally available.
There are virtually no old growth forests left in Vermont, the region was heavily logged in the 1800’s. Damaging floods in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s not only knocked out the water-powered mills that processed the timber but they also taught a lesson in not laying entire mountainsides bare to runoff and erosion. Vermonters have a reputation for being stubborn but we also use our experiences to learn better ways.
In the early 1900’s, Vermont was 20% forested, now it is 80% forested. The forests are growing back, even more rapidly than the rate of harvest. As dairy farms consolidate and abandon marginal hillside property, the wilderness once again begins to take over.
The majority of wood that grows tends to be lower grade material. Since Maple Landmark makes small items, they are able to use downgraded lumber by simply cutting around the defects. This strategy saves on the demand for the rarer, more premium grades. They also make use of small dimension material that is cast off from other plants.
Just as they are careful to fully utilize the wood they buy, their suppliers are careful about how it is harvested. For the entire history of their company, they have purchased the majority of their lumber from one local source, Lathrop’s Maple Supply of Bristol, Vermont. Tom Lathrop is located just nine miles up the road and supplies not just maple, but pine, cherry, and other species as well.
Click here to learn more about the use of lumber for Maple Landmark products.
The sawdust generated at Maple Landmark goes to a couple of local farmers for use as cattle bedding. Their wood scraps are put out for locals to use for kindling. They use very minimal packaging for their products and ship their products in reused upcycled packing materials. Click here to read more about their recycling and conservation practices.
Small Business Person of the Year
Michael Rainville is being recognized by the US Small Business Administration as Vermont’s Small Business Person of the Year for 2017! This honor has been granted in recognition of Maple Landmark’s employment growth, financial success, expansion and community involvement.
“It’s a privilege to have Maple Landmark recognized for its efforts,” said Rainville. “Throughout the years we have been recognized for our toys, but this is the first time Maple Landmark has been recognized for its overall business operations.”
“We are extremely proud to be a Vermont manufacturer. There were times when it was tempting to think about going overseas, but we know what we are. We are an American company that likes to make stuff,” said Rainville.
We’re shining our Co-op Spotlight this week on one of the most awarded specialty food companies in North America- Trois Petits Cochons! Les Trois Petits Cochons has produced award-winning, all natural pâté and charcuterie since 1975 by crafting small, handmade batches using only the finest high-quality ingredients. Their full product line is 20% off for member-owners from November 30th – December 6th – just in time for creating beautiful, crowd-pleasing holiday platters! Read on to learn more about this company that has been producing high-quality, hand-crafted products for over 40 years!
Les Trois Petits Cochons first opened its doors as a small charcuterie in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1975. It has since grown to become the leader in the pâté and charcuterie industry, offering a complete line of artisanal pâtés, mousses, terrines, sausages, saucissons, smoked meats and other French specialties. Their products have garnered a long list of SOFI awards, earning great respect in the culinary world.
Les Trois Petits Cochons is committed to continuing the tradition of making delicious, authentic and quality pâté and charcuterie for its customers. By combining time-honored recipes, choice ingredients, innovative cooking methods and strict quality control they are able to create consistent, handcrafted products. All of this, together with dedicated customer service and a passion for good food, have allowed them to stay true to their small charcuterie roots.
Les Trois Petits Cochons believes in taking care of the earth that gives us so much. All Les Trois Petits Cochons paper packaging is certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. This means that all paper is harvested legally and sustainably and that the chain of custody — from the forest to the grocery store — has been verified. In addition, Les Trois Petits Cochons uses all-natural ingredients and hand-crafts its products in small batches.
Be sure to check out the fabulous collection of recipes on their web page!
Our Co-op Spotlight is shining brightly on Badger this week. This small, family-owned, family-run, and family-friendly company nestled in the woods of Gilsum, New Hampshire is beyond worthy of the spotlight. They help define what it means to be a socially responsible, environmentally responsible, people-first kind of business. They are featured in our Member Deals program this week, so all of their fabulous body care products are 20% for member-owners from November 25th – 29th! Read on to learn about the ideals, principles, and practices that make their company worthy of such high praise!
Badger was born in 1995 when founder Bill Whyte was working as a carpenter in the cold New Hampshire winters and created an amazing balm that helped soothe and heal his cracked hands. The company has since grown to over 100 products and 60 employees but “Badger Bill” still runs the show as CEO, along with his wife Katie (COO), and their two daughters Emily (VP Sales & Marketing), and Rebecca (VP of Innovation and Sustainability).
Quality Ingredients and Standards
Badger selects ingredients with great care, using only those that fit their rigorous natural standards for healthy agriculture, minimal processing, sustainable supply chain, and health-giving properties. Every ingredient they use is grown and processed with the highest degree of respect for protecting the environment, the workers and the natural properties of the plants. Nearly all of Badger’s products are made from 100% USDA Certified Organic food-grade ingredients and they utilize as many fair trade certified ingredients as possible. You can view their impressive growing and processing standards on their web page.
B Corp Status
In 2011, Badger became a certified B Corp. In 2015 they were recognized by the B Corp Best for the Environment list. The list recognizes 116 businesses that earned an environmental score in the top 10% of more than 1,200 Certified B Corporations from over 120 industries on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, community, and the environment.
Badger also recently won the Connect 2016 Philosophy Award for their accommodating employee benefits and exemplary work environment. They aim to be supportive of the new parents in their extended work family while considering the well-being of all employees and productivity in the workplace. With this in mind, their Babies At Work program brings together a policy that is best for baby, parent, and business. Most short-term disability benefits regarding pregnancies end after just six weeks, leaving the parent to find childcare as he or she returns to the workplace. Badger’s policy allows the parent to bring the child to the workplace until a specified time: in most cases until the baby is six months old or begins crawling.
This program makes breastfeeding easier and allows for the inherent health benefits for both mother and child: enhanced bonding, lessening of daycare costs and more financial stability, great social network and extended-family support for both parent and child, and an easier transition to off-site child care. Once children are ready for off-site care, they have the option of attending the Calendula Garden Children’s Center. This option offers reasonably-priced, high quality, flexible childcare for children of Badger employees, as well as a limited number of children from the greater community. The center itself is located in the renovated house that was the former home to the Badger Company, a quarter of a mile down the road from the company’s current facility. Badger, in a sense, creates its own “village” to support both parent and child!
Another exemplary aspect of employee care is their free lunch program. This is a daily organic lunch served during a paid 30-minute break. Every day their fabulous cooks prepare a free, home-cooked lunch for all of the Badgers made from 100% organic and mostly local foods. During the summer months, much of the produce comes right from their Badger vegetable garden! Read more about Badger’s impressive employee benefits here.
Badger believes that third-party certifications take the guesswork out of claims made on cosmetics and personal care items. This means that they adhere to the standards and guidelines of any third party agency certifying their products. Their products are certified organic by both the USDA and the NSF, many of the ingredients are Fair Trade certified, and all products are certified gluten-free and certified cruelty-free.
Check out this short video to hear from Badger Bill about the values that make his company unique:
We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight this week on a local favorite – Lake Champlain Chocolates!All of their mouth-watering chocolates are 20% off for member-owners from November 16th – 22nd! Read on to learn more about this local confectionery that has called Vermont home since 1983:
According to the folks at Lake Champlain Chocolates, Vermont is more than an address; it’s home. It’s where they live, who they are, and how they choose to do business. And from the first truffle in 1983 to the present day, Vermont has inspired the folks at Lake Champlain Chocolates to take a craftsman’s approach to chocolate: creativity, patience, and mastery.
What began as a truffle-making venture has now grown to include a long list of tasty treats from fudge to sea salted caramels and beyond. And with each new product, their original commitment to excellence has remained the same. They have remained true to their mission of seeking out the best and freshest ingredients from local farmers and producers and they’ve been doing it that way long before it was cool. Call it Vermont instinct, but even back in ’83, it just made sense that using local honey, maple syrup, and fresh cream in their Chocolates of Vermont would result in superior flavor. Those same instincts also guided the decision to never add preservatives, extenders, or additives to any of their chocolates.
Beyond labeling individual products as “fair trade” — an ongoing process in itself — the entire company is now certified Fair for Life. Fair for Life is a rigorous third-party certification for social accountability and fair trade. Above and beyond fair trade certification, it looks at a company’s practices as a whole, including the ingredients used in its products. LCC undergoes regular audits to ensure every step of its supply chain is socially legit. Not just the cocoa, but every link they have as a business, including their own employees’ working conditions here in Vermont.
Why? Because of their belief that every person in the process should be treated and compensated fairly. And that means everyone in the supply chain — from the farmers who grow and harvest the cocoa, to those who transport it, transform it into chocolate, process your order, package it, and ensure it arrives ready for you to enjoy.
This certification affirms the following:
A price premium is paid to the cocoa farmers and co-ops.
Certified products originate from fair trade producer operations.
LCC is engaged in long-term partnerships and socially responsible trading practices with its suppliers/purveyors.
LCC respects the labor rights of its own employees, providing good working conditions.
LCC is a good community citizen and practices environmental responsibility.
Blue Bandana Bean-To-Bar:
Blue Bandana is an award-winning line of single-origin craft chocolate bars launched in 2012 by Eric Lampman, head of R&D at Lake Champlain Chocolates and son of founder Jim Lampman. Born from a desire to go deeper into the chocolate-making process, the micro-batch chocolate bars are produced in Vermont using cocoa beans sourced directly from their origin.
With the Blue Bandana line, they’re following a “direct trade” model. As the name implies, there’s no middleman, so the supply chain is that much shorter. This allows them to build one-on-one relationships with farmers and sponsor local initiatives in the communities where the cacao is grown. There’s a direct feedback loop with growers and co-ops, and that makes a huge difference in the quality of the end product.
For LCC as a whole, fair trade still offers the best solution. Going 100% direct trade company-wide would be a real challenge, for a few reasons — sheer quantity, for starters. Bottom line, fair trade and direct trade are both valid ways to do the right thing, make sure farmers get a fair shake, and get to know your supply chain.
All of the products at Lake Champlain Chocolates are certified Kosher with zero additives or shelf extenders and the goal is to use non-GMO ingredients whenever possible. Of course, their certified organic chocolates are 100% GMO-free as guaranteed by the organic certification.
Want to see how their chocolates are made? Take a FREE Factory Tour!
Tours on the hour
Self-Guided Tours after 3pm
FREE Chocolate Tastings
Saturday & Sunday, 11am to 4pm
750 Pine Street Burlington, VT
Tours fill up quickly in peak months, so call ahead: 802-864-1807
We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Elmer Farm this week to celebrate this 90-acre organic farm and the farmers who bring it to life. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their glorious spread of organic vegetables from October 9th – 15th! Read on to learn more about the history and heritage of this farm, which has been providing food for this community since the early 1800’s!
Driving into East Middlebury on Route 116, it’s hard to miss the beautiful patch of flowers bordering the white farmhouse at the entryway to Elmer Farm. What you might not see from the road are the amazing fields of vegetables that are grown on this fertile, organic soil. Elmer Farm is a conserved 90-acre farm where Spencer & Jennifer Blackwell grow 25 acres of mixed vegetables, grains, and dry beans, all of which are certified organic. Annual inspections and certification by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) ensure that the crops are grown responsibly and safely without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.
The farm belonged to the Elmer family since the early 1800’s and has a long heritage of providing food for its community. The receding glaciers bestowed the farm with a wonderful mix of fertile soils and sandy loam, perfectly suited to growing vegetables and grains. Elmer Farm grows more than thirty-five different vegetables, an array of flowers and culinary herbs. This includes over 200 different varieties including many heirlooms.
Spencer and Jennifer Blackwell, along with their children, Angus, Ida, & Mabel and their hard-working crew of farmhands are proud to grow vegetables for their community, neighbors, and friends in Addison County. They value hard work and the agrarian quality of life. They are committed to our community through various farm-to-school efforts as well as gleaning for local food agencies. In fact, Spencer helped spearhead the Local Food Access Program at HOPE.
A number of years ago, representatives from HOPE, Middlebury College, ACORN, and the local business community, along with several local farmers, including Spencer from Elmer Farm and Will Stevens of Golden Russet Farm, got together to discuss the possibility of increasing the amount of locally grown food offered at HOPE’s food shelf. This group recognized that Addison County farmers grow vast amounts of beautiful, healthy organic fruits and vegetables, which are often unavailable or too pricey to those who need it most. They also recognized that these farms often had excess produce available that would not be destined for retail markets, which could instead be diverted to the food shelf. Fast-forward to present day, and the idea hatched by this group has evolved into an incredibly successful program that is bringing thousands of pounds of healthy, local foods to those in our community who need it most while also diverting a lot of food from the waste stream.
At the Co-op, you can find Elmer Farm’s organic cabbage, red & yellow onions, butternut squash, baby bok choy, radishes, leeks, scallions, kale, chard, and their famous carrots! You can also subscribe to their CSA, where you will receive fresh vegetables, flowers, and herbs each week from mid-June through the end of October for a total of 20 weeks. Also be sure to check out the recipes on their web page!