Eco Foodie Gift Guide

Every year, I struggle with holiday gifts. I dislike the idea that the string of holidays are synonymous with scrambling at the malls and maxing out credit cards just for the sake of giving... whatever that means. And the spirit of holiday is often lost in the sea of gift wrap and gluttony for holiday treats. I much rather be generous at random times of the year simply because of my appreciation for the people I care about.

But if you're looking for sensible and sustainable gifts for the deserving people in your lives this holiday (or any other time of the year), here are some of my recs.
Disclaimer: I'm a proud owner/consumer of each these amazing items, and I'm only including the things are I'm a believer of. No company sponsorship or freebies swayed my list. 

Reusable Utensils
Image from To-Go Ware.com 
An estimated 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in just our country alone. Landfills are running out of space, and toxins are leeched into air and water from the production and disposal of them. It's time to stop placing convenience first in our lifestyle choices.
To-Go Ware utensils offer a stylish and practical solution to the disposable utensil problem! Each set comes with a fork, knife, spoon, and a pair of chopsticks to cover all your culinary bases. They're made out of renewable bamboo and employ fair labor practices. I've had mine for a few months and love them to pieces! Hence I went to great lengths to get my lost pair of chopsticks replaced last month. Thanks, Kelly :)

Mesh Produce Bags
Image from bringitbags.com
I love seeing people buy fresh produce at farmers markets and heck, even chain grocery stores. But it breaks my heart when some folks pull off yards of plastic bags just to put 2 apples and 5 limes in each bag. And I find it most ironic when I see patrons of a farmers market walking about with countless white plastic bags hanging off of their arms.
Image from flip&tumble.com
With the rise of reusable totes, I was wondering when will someone come up with reusable produce bags. bringit offers 3 colors in 2 different sizes of mesh bags; flip & tumble offers a pack of 5. My honeydew colored bringit bag was purchased from Whole Foods Market, but I haven't seen any there lately. The set from flip & tumble is available at selected Crate & Barrel stores as well as Amazon.com.

Cast Iron Skillet
Image from Lodge Cast.com
My cast iron skillet made a strong comeback in the last year. Originally purchased to attempt Mexican cuisine at home when my family just immigrated from Hong Kong, now I can't remember the last time we made anything south of the border at home. But the skillet has become my favorite thing to cook with because of its durability and even heat conduction. Not to mention it gives the best color and sear, whether I'm making sauteed veggies, grilled steak, or even a cornbread cake! Yes, it's heavy and a bit clunky, but I'm all for getting a bicep workout while I'm cooking!
My cast iron skillet is an oldie from Lodge Cast. There's an extensive line of different cookware to chose from and are available at fine culinary stores like Sur la Table or their own website.

Image from Prepara.com
A Practical Kitchen Gadget
Did you know that store-bought nonstick cooking spray is an inhalant drug of abuse that can double-duty as ant poison? Not mention they're highly wasteful (a tiny amount of oil and a whole lot of nitrous oxide or carbon dioxide as propellant). Oh, and the coating on some pans and pots can be damaged by these cooking sprays.
For all those reasons, I was glad I stumbled upon the Prepara Table Top Mister on a random stroll through Crate & Barrel. I've had mine for over a year, and it's still working like a champ. For a more extensive product review, check out my post on it.
I couldn't find it anymore at Crate & Barrel on my last stroll there. But it was available at Sur La Table and in colors more exciting than just white.

Image from Theo Chocolate.com
Organic & Fair Trade Chocolate
At a recent conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Kim of Theo Chocolate. She's a rep for the company, and I knew I liked her when she let me stand there sampling almost every flavor on display. Then I had the Coconut Curry milk chocolate, and I knew I liked not only Kim but Theo, too! The flavor was mind-blowing (not for the timid palate), and I've been on the hunt for them ever since.
Theo Chocolate is certified organic and uses fair trade practices. You can enjoy the delicious cocoa delights and know that no worker was harmed during the production of your chocolate bar (chocolate giants like Hershey's and Nestle often exploit farmworkers on cocoa plantations). As Kim pointed out, most of their dark chocolates are also vegan! With their extensive and amazing flavors, there's truly something for everyone from Theo!
P.S. For $6, you can visit their factory in Seattle! Reservations required.

Local Artisan Ice Cream 
Image from MotherMoo.com
I like ice cream, a lot. And I used to be a fan of factory-made ones that are sold at large supermarkets. What the heck was I thinking? There are added chemicals that act as stabilizers and the use of whey/skim milk to keep their costs down. There are occasional fun flavors but they're usually the trite vanilla, chocolate, and perhaps the semi-adventurous Rocky Road.
Then a couple of artisanal creameries opened up in my area, and my taste for ice cream transformed. They have inventive flavors that change with the seasons. There were basil-lemon sorbet in the summer, pumpkin ice cream in the fall, and my recent fav, cinnamon!
Support your local creamery like I have for Mother Moo Creamery who uses organic dairy and sources some raw ingredients from local farmers. Although ice creams aren't really travel-able gifts, bring a pint or quart to your next dinner party or buy gift certificates- they're so much more thoughtful than box-store gift cards.

Co-op Membership
Food co-ops are more than just stores to buy groceries, they also build community that empower their members. Although food co-ops aren't everywhere and accessible to everyone, you might be living close to one and not know it!
Check this list from Co-op Directory and purchase a membership as a gift! If you're in the LA area, lend your support to Santa Monica's Co-opportunity or the Arroyo Food Co-op that needs your help in opening their store!

If you have an unused kitchen gadget that's just collecting dust in the corner, why not regift it?? In times when we really should consider conservation and the 3R's (reduce, reuse, recycle), regifting shouldn't count as a faux pas. Check out this great guide from Brain Pickings and spruce up your regift packaging with their fun graphics.


Kait Fortunato, RD said...

Great ideas! Thanks for sharing

delwin said...

Of course Theo Chocolate!

Basit said...

Very nice and attractive idea.I like it.So much fun!!!
print plastic cards
Clear business Card

MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College said...

I have mesh produce bags and I LOVE them! I am totally asking for those reusable utensils for Christmas!

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