Everybody loves a good snack. Salty or sweet, chewy or crunchy, snacking is a great part of anybody’s day. And though many don’t know it, it is also an opportunity to make a difference. So next time you tear into another bag, you should know about these three brands:


Kallari Bars

While chocolate is a major part of snacking, the chocolate industry is, unfortunately, somewhat notorious for unethical practices. The divide between wealthy chocolate companies based primarily in the United States or Europe and farmers in the developing world has lead to an industry notorious for abusive labor practices and economic exploitation.

Kallari bars are an important agent in fighting against this exploitation. Based in the Amazon, Kallari chocolate is owned by the Kichwa nation and controlled at every step of production by 850 growers from the nation.

Focusing on maintaining local control of natural resources in a sustainable way, Kallari can break the cycle of exploitation in the chocolate industry while empowering indigenous communities.


This Bar Saves Lives

Plumpy’nut is quite possibly the most important invention in the modern era. A cheap peanut-based concoction that stays fresh after opening and does not need to be refrigerated, cooked or consumed with clean water, this life-saving paste is reaching over 2 million malnourished children yearly.

For every nutrition bar purchased from the food company, This Bar Saves Lives, a packet of plumpy’nut is given to a child in need. And, to top it off, the bars are delicious.

This Bar Saves Lives comes in three flavors: Wild Blueberry Pistachio, Dark Chocolate Cherry & Sea Salt, and Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey. Made with all natural, non-GMO, ethically sourced ingredients, the bars are delicious and nutritious.

The snacks also make a huge difference. Since June of 2013, This Bar Saves Lives has donated 515,546 packets of plumpy’nut. That is a number that speaks for itself. Customers can order packages of bars individually or can subscribe to a monthly shipment for a discount.



Kutoa is a Swahili word meaning “to give.” The food company of the same name does just that.

Like This Bar Saves Lives, Kutoa focuses on the issue of malnutrition by providing plumpy’nut to those in need. The focus has been successful, allowing the snack bars to make a huge difference. Since 2011, Kutoa has sent almost 200,000 meals to those in need.

Kutoa bars have a bit more variety than those offered by This Bar Saves Lives and include Chocolate Espresso Bean and Peanut Butter & Jelly, among others. Unfortunately, Kutoa does not yet offer the subscription service offered by its competitor.

Snacking is great. It’s no secret that everybody loves a little treat. With companies like these three that do good with their snacks, that little treat just got a whole lot bigger.

– Andrew Michaels

Sources: Kutoa, The Independent, This Bar Saves Lives, Kallari Cooperative, PCC Natural Markets, Snacknation,
Photo: Kutoa

Poverty and Obesity Fast Food Developing Countries
The diplomatic phrase “emerging markets” is a term food companies use to target individuals living in developing countries. Processed food companies, such as KFC, McDonald’s and the like are using developing countries as a way to boost economic growth – the world’s poor is a market that needs to be tapped – and it is the food companies that have taken full advantage of these unchartered territories, bringing poverty and obesity into the public eye.


Fast Food Stimulates Poverty and Obesity


Take this real life paradox: in South Africa, 60% of women and 25% of children are overweight, yet 20% of the children also suffer from malnutrition. The sudden introduction of fast food joints in developing countries is harmful for a number of reasons. The first is that the world’s poor are unaware of the dangers of processed food because they have not been properly educated about nor introduced to this market in the past.

The second reason is cultural; a fast food joint is a sign of luxury and status in developing countries – so locals may feel more inclined to spend a week’s worth of wages for one meal simply because they appear to be better off than they actually are. In order to get past these potential consequences, locals need to be educated about the nutritional value of cheap, processed food (or lack thereof) otherwise there will be more health crises to accompany the already dire situation in developing countries. Heart disease, diabetes and obesity may very well follow in the path of malnutrition, HIV/AIDS and death that run rampant in developing countries.

If food companies are going to be tapping into this market then the public needs to be educated about the potential consequences of including a diet with cheap, processed foods. Fast food corporations are inherently at an advantage because they have the resources to enter these countries and make incredible profits off of unsuspecting locals.

South Africa is not the only country that has been drastically targeted by this “other” food crisis. Six countries out of the top ten in the world – Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are in the lead for prevalence of type 2 diabetes, affecting 11% of the population. All of these countries within the Middle East reveal negative effects of the presence of fast food companies in developing countries. The global poor are seriously lacking in aid, yet when they are seen as a consumer, they are suddenly bombarded with attention from companies who want to make a buck off of them.

Obviously the reality is that fast food companies are in every country – no one is immune – but they are especially harmful for developing countries. Food corporations are tapping into new markets because their markets in the global north have reached a “saturation point” – “that point is reached when processed foods provide 60% of a country’s total calories”. In other words, they want more money and they want it now.

The solutions to this are unclear, but there are some countries that are making great leaps towards remedying the fast food crisis. Brazil for example, has government legislation that calls for healthier school meals for children and the basic right to access healthy food, as outlined in the Brazilian constitution.

Do the developing countries or even the United States attempt what Brazil has done and enact these solutions into legislation to disarm the fast food takeover, or is it through education and awareness that we quell this crisis?

-Rozali Telbis

Photo: Oxford Journals
Food Tank, Huffington Post, The Guardian

Hot Bread Kitchen
Foreign-born and low-income workers have the opportunity to become financially independent through a culinary career at Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK) in New York City’s Spanish Harlem.

Due to a lack of English fluency or professional networks, immigrants are often forced to the periphery of society. HBK works to build a world where immigrants are accepted into mainstream culture and honored for their work. In the kitchen, the foreign-born workers are not only improving their English language skills, but learning about commercial baking and management.

Since its launch, HBK has trained 22 women from 11 different countries, and it has incubated 15 small businesses.

The bakery offers Project Launch, a paid on-the-job training program, and HBK Incubates, a small business incubation program. Most of the workers grew up learning how to bake traditional breads from family recipes, and the training programs are funded by the sale of multi-ethnic breads made by the bakers using local and organic ingredients.

Project Launch is an intensive workforce training program in artisanal baking and English fluency for foreign-born and low-income minority women. Participants in the program receive up to 35 hours per week of on-the-job bakery training, 16 hours of customer service training and three hours of English fluency classes.

After an average of nine months, the women are placed in management track positions in the culinary industry or advanced to the HBK Incubates, which helps them launch their own businesses. For those transitioning into professional positions, household wealth is improved, with salaries increasing an average of 106%.

Nancy Mendez started making tortillas by hand when she was 10 years old, but she could not afford professional cooking school in Mexico because of the cost. She now makes Mexican corn tortillas for HBK based on her grandmother’s recipe. Mendez, who moved to the U.S. almost 14 years ago, now runs the entire tortilla production process at HBK. The tortillas are sold at weekly farmer’s markets in New York and at small shops. The breads sold at HBK vary, from foccacia to rye and challah to lavash crackers; the bakery also sells granola. The tortillas are one of the bakery’s most popular items.

HBK is not the only non-profit kitchen that doubles as a training center — La Cocina in San Francisco and Hope & Main in Rhode Island are also kitchen training centers in addition to commercial enterprises. However, HBK is unique in that is pays its bakers for class time.
HBK products are sold at retailers all over Manhattan, Brooklyn and online.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Hot Bread Kitchen, National Public Radio, Changemakers
Photo: Arbor Brothers

Kellogg's Falls ShortIt is unfortunate to read about some of the world’s favorite and most popular brands failing to meet basic work ethics. In an article about big food companies’ failure to meet ethical standards, the Guardian mentions how Kellogg’s falls short. Associated British Foods (ABF), seemed to lead this standard of failure by receiving the lowest ratings on the general “commitment to protect farmers, local communities and the environment.” The highest rating that can be achieved is 70, and ABF scored a total of 13. The second-lowest rating was received by Kellogg’s and General Mills, who own Haagen-Dazs, both scoring 16 out of 70.

It seems that these companies are falling short in three main standards: land-use concerns, failure of worker protection, especially of women, and lack of transparency as to the companies’ source of ingredients. These companies mark the biggest 10 in the food market chain and all of them have recognized the need to meet these standards, but yet, failed to do so. An Oxfam chief, Barbara Stocking, expresses how it is time for consumers to know the truth about how their food is being produced under poor conditions that harm workers. Stocking also asserts that these 10 companies are dominating shelves at supermarkets and accounting for $1 billion of revenue per day while 1 in 8 people sleep hungry every night.

An ABF spokesman defended the company’s stance regarding “human cost of its supply chain,” and asserted that the company treats its producers with respect and that ABF’s transparency would improve in the 2013 fall reports. The main goals are to get consumers to recognize these shortcomings and know that human lives are being impacted greatly and to use a louder voice to demand better policies.

Leen Abdallah

Source: Guardian
Photo: Google