Snack Fairly with These Nine Outstanding Brands

Morgan McKean

Grocery shopping can be confusing, especially for consumers who care about nutrient density, social justice, and environmental sustainability. Food Tank has rounded up a list of nine brands that are enabling the creation of a more nutritious and robust food system. Whether through donations that support nonprofit organizations or by recirculating profits back to the small-scale farmers growing ingredients, these brands are doing more than just putting good food on grocery shelves.

Missouri-based Askinosie Chocolate produces sweet treats with a commitment to “fairness, sustainability, minimal environmental impact, and community enhancement,” according to its website. The company also runs a Chocolate University to show elementary, middle, and high school students the bean to bar process. Through the program students gain hands-on experience, working with provider partners and managing direct-trade relationships.

With a focus on superfoods like goji berries and spirulina powder, Essential Living Foods works directly with its producers to ensure high-quality ingredients grown through sustainable practices. In return, suppliers, including yacon root farmers in rural China, peanut growers in indigenous Ecuadorian communities, and a permaculture olive farm in Peru, benefit from the company’s commitment to redistribute 1 percent of its retail sales back to its farmers and their communities.

Founded by three friends on a mission, Equal Exchange seeks to foster trade partnerships that are equitable and fair to farmers. The certified Fair Trade company, which sells coffee, chocolate, bananas, and tea, sources from more than 40 small-scale farming organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States. The collaborations have also resulted in the development of beneficial growth programs for farmers such as crop diversification and women’s leadership initiatives.

Lotus Foods sources its rice from family farmers in developing countries, with the aim of providing ways to “earn an honorable living, while preserving biodiversity and the natural resources that support them.” The brand empowers its producers through activities like encouraging the growth of local heirloom rice varietals in the Philippines and engaging in government discussions to help Bhutanese growers gain organic certification.

Mamma Chia donates 1 percent of its gross sales to build tenable food systems by supporting farmers and community groups around the world. The company is also a founding member of the Slow Money Alliance, which brings capital to local food systems and organic farms that are working to rebuild food systems, improve nutrition, and save farmland.

Nutiva dedicates 1 percent of its annual sales to providing aid to programs involved in ecologically sound agriculture, including sustainable farming, food and environmental activism, and community and school gardens. In 2013, Nutiva established its Nourish Foundation to expand the company’s philanthropic efforts, and its website reports that the organization has donated over US$3 million to various programs since 1999.

ONEHope Wine and Coffee donates half its profits to charity partners, with more than US$1.4 million donated since 2007. The organization supports a variety of charities by attributing profits from specific bottles of wine to causes like tree planting and ending child hunger. Additionally, ONEHope coffee sales support a monthly rotation of charitable organizations. Kiva, a microloan facilitator for small-scale farmers, is the current recipient.

A co-op of family farmers, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic goods, such as milk, cheese, eggs, and meat. The organization has committed 5 percent of its profits to various grassroots organizations that support family farmers and food systems, environmental sustainability, and local farming communities. Additionally, Organic Valley awards grants for projects focused on organic farming research, education, and advocacy.

Through sales of its spices, seasonings, and mixes, Simply Organic promotes organic agriculture by donating 1 percent of sales to research, grower development, and education. According to the brand’s website, past donations have included US$70,000 to establish a scholarship for future farmers studying ecological horticulture at University of California, Santa Cruz. Simply Organic also gave  US$30,000 to support organic farming training for marginal farmers, women, and children in southwest India.