Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Alter Eco

We love our producers, suppliers and vendors and we think most of them have some pretty interesting stories behind their products too. We’re sharing some of our favorites here in an ongoing series.

Alter Eco was started by a group of friends who share a passion for economic and social justice and food. From the start, their mission was to work with small-scale farms in the developing world and also to share foods that celebrate specific regions and their traditions.

All Alter Eco products are sourced directly from farmer-owned cooperatives and certified Fair Trade by Trans Fair USA. Products include Royal red, white or rainbow quinoa from Bolivia, heirloom Jasmine rice from Thailand, unprocessed Mascobado cane sugar from the Philippines and dark chocolate bars made with organic cacao from Ecuador and Peru. Each has the highest possible quality with distinct flavor profiles that result from native soils, climate and farming techniques.

“Our products are really about stories of farmers and stories of places,” says Edouard Rollet, Alter Eco co-founder. “They are stories of terroir, stories of pride, of families and hope. They are stories that show the challenges small-scale farmers face today.” Indeed, the stories are inspiring.

The fair trade price has allowed Phakphum, a rice farmer in Thailand, to transition to organic farming, pay off debts and buy more land and buffalos. Beth Mondejar, a sugarcane farmer in the Negros Islands, learned a more environmentally conscious method for cultivating her crops and has more than doubled her income. She has also taken on a leadership role as one of the cooperative’s managers.

“Thanks to fair trade and Alter Eco, we found new markets for our quinoa,” says Santiago Alaez, who lives on the Altiplano, Bolivia, where Alter Eco has worked with the ANAPQUI quinoa cooperative since 2003. Alter Eco even sources secondary ingredients such as nuts, coconut and vanilla for its chocolate bars from cooperatives in the developing world. The company also offsets 100% of carbon emissions through reforestation in the Amazon, in partnership with Pur Projet.

"We look forward to diversifying into the next generation of Alter Eco products,” says Mathieu. “We are constantly seeking new opportunities to empower small-scale farmers."

Have you tried Alter Eco’s Organic Royal Rainbow Quinoa?  Share your favorite quinoa recipe for this colorful blend of white, red and black organic quinoa by leaving a comment!


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Connie Waters says …

Smart Consumer. Hello, I am a whole foods market customer. I just want to say kudos,.... I think it is great that we are finding not only economical ways to encourage healthier products for consumers, but also ways for our smart purchases to benefit the honest hard working farmers. Thanks. Connie Waters

Sandra Pearson says …

Hi I am a WFM Team Member.I am passionate about Whole Trade. Fair Trade and Whole Planet.I buy Alter Eco.I love the jasmine rice from Thailand.I saw that a Whole Planet team member trip to Thailand may be apart of our volunteer program 2013.To help the Phakphum tribe.I want to learm more about Alter Eco.I hope to be a part of that trip.If you have any information on the trip please keep me informed.Thanks,Sandra Pearson

Fred Meyer says …

Recently, Alter Eco "Dark Blackout" chocolate bars (85% cocoa) were on sale at Whole Foods. I bought a few bars. Very high quality. Engaging fragrance and taste. The geographic origin of the beans is specified (Ecuador). Such chocolate bars, with a high cocoa content and specific geographic origin, allow me to train my palate to be more sensitive to the differentiating qualities of each regional cocoa. That is, by tasting one chocolate bar against another, one learns more about each of them. I'm comparing the Alter Eco to a variety of other bars that were just on sale at Whole Foods, including two that are very distinctive: Theo brand Fair Trade organic "Ultimate Dark" (85% cocoa), made in Seattle, and Madecasse brand 75% cocoa, made in Madagascar of local beans.

Heather says …

The alter eco rainbow quinoa is my favorite! I love to use it for Mexican quinoa. 1 cup of quinoa + 1 cup of broth. Add 1 can of corn (rinsed & drained), 1 can of black beans (rinsed & draied) and 1 can of diced tomatoes. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and add juice & zest of one lime, a handful of chopped cilantro. Serve with pico de gallo, guacamole or salsa & some shredded cheese.