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!