Community Relations Team Leader Shonelle Bellon from our Santa Cruz store shares her thoughts on Whole Trade Guarantee™ Month. February is Whole Trade Guarantee Month! (Enter to win Whole Trade flowers for a year!) During the season of romance, we are also celebrating fair wages, environmental sustainability and philanthropy throughout the world. When you're shopping for Valentine's Day gifts, I recommend browsing our Whole Trade Guarantee™ beautiful roses and decadent chocolates (Divine Chocolate, Equal Exchange and Theo Chocolate, just to name a few brands). Beyond romantic treats, I shop for Whole Trade teas, coffees, body care and grocery products throughout the store. Here are a few of my very favorite items: Kombucha Botanica I recently became a kombucha enthusiast. I kept hearing about the incredible health benefits of kombucha (fermented tea), due to its probiotics, acids, enzymes and B-vitamins. However, I never actually enjoyed drinking it...until I tried Kombucha Botanica. The Santa Cruz-based company offers organic and raw kombucha that are deliciously refreshing and mildly sweet. They get their sugar from Wholesome Sweeteners (another Whole Trade product) from Paraguay. In addition to contributing 1% of sales to the Whole Planet Foundation, Kombucha Botanica is a member of the 1% For the Planet program. Its current recipient is the Homeless Garden Project, a community supported organic garden that provides job training and transitional employment to homeless men and women. This small company gives back in a big way! Kombucha Botanica is also a recipient of our Local Producer Loan Program. Funds from the loan have allowed the small company to invest in more production space. Kombucha Botanica is currently available in Northern California and Southern Oregon, but will be expanding soon into the rest of California, Nevada and Utah. 365 Organic Swiss Chocolate When I need a chocolate fix - especially while on a budget - I grab a 365 Organic Swiss chocolate bar. For just around $2, the smooth, rich organic chocolate satisfies my cravings without breaking the bank. My favorites are the Dark Chocolate with Almonds and Dark Chocolate with Coconut, both made with 54% cacao. The cocoa beans are grown by the YACAO Project, a co-op of small-scale farmers in the Dominican Republic. YACAO works with producers to ensure fair and equal salary for equal work, absolutely no child or forced labor, purchase of whole production guaranteed, 10-25% bonus paid for organic production, and financing of all organic certification. Alaffia Body Lotion I am also a big fan of Alaffia's Shea & Rooibos Antioxidant Body Lotion, which is made with unrefined shea butter, antioxidant rooibos tea, skin firming papaya and nourishing red palm oil. I use it daily after I shower, and love how it absorbs quickly and completely without leaving a sticky residue. The Alaffia/Agbanga Shea Butter Cooperative in Togo provides fair income and medical care to over 80 families. I had the privilege of meeting Alaffia founder Olowo-n'djo Tchala, and was inspired by how he uses sustainable skin care to build awareness about women's health issues in Africa. The back of my lotion bottle reads, "In West Africa, 1 in 16 women may die from childbirth related complications." 10% of Alaffia sales benefit community projects, including the Fousena Fund and Alaffia Women's Clinic in Togo, which provide prenatal care and funds for complications to help reduce preventable deaths. Check out their website www.alaffia.com for more info about Alaffia's empowerment projects. From teas to chocolate to skin care, the Whole Trade Guarantee program offers something for everyone. So, what's your favorite Whole Trade product?