12 days of green shopping: Green gourmet gift baskets

Photo: istockphoto.com/Kelly Cline/Russell Tate
What to get someone who has everything? Need a nice hostess gift? A gourmet gift basket is the perfect solution, especially when it's fair trade and organic. Combine several items for a quick and easy food gift baskets. Wicker baskets are the favoured carrier but don't limit yourself. Hand-painted buckets, ceramic flower pots or pottery bowls make perfect containers as well. Forego that polluting cellophane wrapping for some greener materials. Choose some lovely organic cotton, tied up with some ribbon. Even better make the wrapping part of the gift by using a shawls, table cloths or throws. With a bit of imagination you can create something lovely for those hard-to-buy for friends and relatives. Chocolate We all love chocolate but no one wants to partake in something created by forced labour. Choosing organic, fair trade chocolate ensures that you are buying from a company where the workers and land have been treated properly. Organic chocolate also tastes better since it's free of additives added to extend the cocoa. Equita Fair Trade Chocolate is produced by Oxfam Fair Trade, whose sole mission is to promote ethical consumption and counter the effects of globalization. Their gourmet dark and milk chocolate is sold in health food and groceries stores throughout Canada or you can buy direct. What a sweet way to participate. Get decadent but guilt-free ganache, bon bons, toffees and bars certified organic and fair trade from Lillie Belle Farms. Combine two loves with Dagoba chocolate covered coffee beans. Their exotic blends like Citrus-Macadamia Tango or Raspberries-Rosehips are perfect for holiday gift baskets. Americans can pick up some Newman's Organic Chocolate at retail and local health food stores. Available in 2.8-ounce and 1.2-ounce bars. For the greens We all need more Omega 3 oils in our diets and gourmet oils are the perfect way to get our daily dosage. With its mild taste, Macadamia nut oil is a top choice among nutritionists. It's free of those nasty trans–fat acids making it the perfect choice for cooking and it's also delicious in salads or sauces. Available at health food stores or gourmet shops. Vital choice sells an excellent blend. Sesame oil is another popular oil, valued for its delicate flavour. High in manganese and copper, a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1 and zinc, it's also has a cholesterol-lowering effect. Rapunzel Sesame Oil is considered the best in the market and is sold through Efood Pantry. Amber-coloured walnut oil has a smooth and nutty flavour that is high in Omega-3 acids and trace minerals. The French company, Orphée makes the top brand that is guaranteed GMO-free, organic and cold-pressed. Avaliable from the BC-based Eco-Natural, Misty Mountain Organic Bakery. The company also stocks organic pumpkin and hazelnut oils, also popular with epicureans. Add some organic balsamic vinegar (found in a variety of discerning gourmet shops and health food stores) to the package and you have a gourmet salad dressing that's also healthy! Napa Valleymakes a lovely Modena District Italian Balsamic. Soothing drinks A gift basket of tea and coffee is a classic standby for holiday gift baskets. The choices out there can be overwhelming. We are all familiar with the abuses and human right violations in the tea and coffee industry, not to mention the environmental destruction. Make sure your offerings of tea and coffee carry the Fair Trade Certification. This ensures that both the land and the people have been treated properly. Fair Trade Certified products are available at many of the large retailers. Java The most guilt-free (and tastiest) coffee will be shade grown, fair trade, and organic. Popular brands include:
  • Kicking Horse Coffee
  • Cameron's Coffee
  • Green Mountain Coffee
  • Wildlife Coffee. Proceeds of this coffee goes to help Papua, New Guinea
  • Not sure about your blend? Check it online with Coffee Review. This website has checked out the coffees of the world and can verify any claims to greenness. Tea Where to find the best tea is a hotly debated topic, followed closely behind loose tea vs. tea bags. If your a newcomer to the world of tea you may want to contact an expert for advice. Subir Guin and his wife Suk Hee Jung have been in the tea business for years importing teas from India and Asia. Their Toronto teahouse, Nokcha, 416-760-9176, has become a haven for tea lovers looking for that special blend. Not discounting your Mom's favourite tea, here are some blends we've enjoyed:
  • Nokcha Teahouse, (3-2323 Bloor Street West, Toronto) sells a lovely organic Darjeeling Black Tea.
  • Today was Fun has the Inspiration Blend and Green Green Tea.
  • The Groovy Mind Organic Tea Club has the Golden Halo tea.
  • Zhena's Gypsy Teas sells a delicious Red Lavender blend.
  • Rishi Tea sells loose tea for the discriminating tea-drinker.
  • Treehugger has an excellent article on how to green your coffee and tea that includes some great gift suggestions. Other suggestions Round off your gift basket with some organic cheese, hot chocolate mix, fruit, nuts and bread. If you're giving the basket to a real foodie consider some fresh, organic herbs along with a gift certificate to their favourite gourmet shop. Ready made gift baskets At the end of the day, if you're just too tired, busy or uninspired, you can get someone else to create that gift basket for you:
  • The Groovy Mind Gift Baskets
  • Organically Gifted
  • Allison's Gourmet
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Kate's Caring Gifts (There may be a feeding frenzy with the The Organic Chocolate Fantasy Gift Set.)
  • Don't stress over your gift basket. Remember, it's the thought that counts. Shelagh McNally is the editor of Green Living Online.