Fair Trade Blueberry Pie

I recently baked a fair trade blueberry pie; I used a recipe from my favorite cookbook, Simply in Season.  Simply in Season is organized, as its name suggests, around the seasons, with recipes focusing on foods that are “in season” for that particular time of year.  In the summer section I found a recipe for blueberry pie under the label Fresh Fruit Pie (on page 160).  There were several different pie options, but I chose blueberry 1) because I like blueberry pie and 2) because I had a ton of blueberries.

The recipe calls for:

3 cups of blueberries

2/3 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of tapioca (I used corn syrup because that is what I had)

(Note: The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of rhubarb, but I am not a fan of rhubarb in pies, so I did not include any.  I did, however, substitute 1/2 cup of blueberries in place of the rhubarb.)

I also decided to make homemade pie crust for the pie, which can be found in Simply in Season on page 334 in the All Seasons section.

The pie crust recipe calls for:

1 slightly beaten egg

5 tablespoons of cold water

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

2 cups of flour

1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup of chilled butter

1 teaspoon of salt

To make the pie fair trade, I used fair trade sugar (you can see the fair trade logo on the Organic Sucanat).

pie_crust_ingredients

I started the pie crust before the pie’s filling because the crust needs to be chilled between 20 and 30 minutes before it can be rolled and baked.

First, the egg, cold water, and apple cider vinegar need to be combined in a bowl and than set aside.

Second, the flour, whole wheat pastry flour, butter, and salt need to be cut together; the cookbook recommended using a pastry blender.  I just used a butter knife and my hands because I do not own a pastry blender, and this worked fine for me.  According to Simply In Season, “Quickly cut together with a pastry blender until chunks of butter are nearly pea-sized,” (p. 334).  It is important to be fairly quick, because it is important that the butter does not become too warm.

Thirdly, the wet ingredients need to be mixed into the dry ingredients using a fork; the ingredients should form a dough ball.  The cookbook suggested cutting the dough ball into 3 pieces; I cut the dough into two pieces.  The dough is then chilled for 20-30 minutes ( I chilled my dough for 30 minutes).

pie_dough_ball

While the dough chilled I prepped the blueberries.  This involved rinsing and sorting and took more time than I had initially anticipated.  This is also a good time to preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

blueberries

Once the blueberries were prepped it was time to take the dough out of the refrigerator.  The two dough balls were rolled flat (using a rolling pin and a dusting of flour on wax paper) for a roughly 9 inch pan.

rolling_pie_crust

To move the flattened dough, “Fold carefully in half, then in half again, and place point of crust in center of pie plate, opening crust to fill pan,” (Simply In Season, p. 334).  Once in the pan, the crust needs to be trimmed with a knife to fit the pan.  Also, sprinkle a dash of sugar on the the crust that rests in the bottom of the pan.

pie_crust_in_pan

Once the pie crusts are prepared, the filling needs to be started so the pie can be placed in the preheated oven.  The sugar, corn syrup, and blueberries need to be mixed; I did this by hand in an effort to mix the ingredients thoroughly while avoiding damaging the blueberries.

Once the filling is mixed, it can be poured/scooped into the pie crust.

Once the filling is in the pan, the second pie crust can be moved (in the same way as the first one) and placed on top of the filling.  Like the first crust, it should be trimmed to fit the pan.

Using a fork, press the outer rims of the pie crusts together and cut vent holes in the top.

The pie should be placed in the oven at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.

The oven’s heat should be reduced to 350 degrees F and the pie should bake for another 25-30 minutes.

blueberry_pieA picture of the finished product; it tasted great, despite (or perhaps because of) the amount of liquid in the center.

blueberry_pie_slice

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper 

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Fair Trade Chocolates

A couple of fair trade chocolate bars I purchased at Martindale’s Natural Market…

choc_equalexchange_mint1Above: Equal Exchange mint chocolate.

choc_madecasse_pinkpepper2Above: Madecasse chocolate, pink pepper and citrus (I had to try it because it was such a unique and interesting sounding chocolate)

choc_madecasse_seasalt1

choc_madecasse_seasalt2

choc_madecasse_seasalt3Above: Also a Madecasse chocolate, although this one was Sea Salt and Nibs

choc_divine_bakingbarAbove: Divine Milk Chocolate, you can just make out the Fair trade logo in the upper left corner

I thought that these chocolate bars were a good example of how there are so many different “fair trade” labels to choose from.  How these labels compare to one another, however, is a subject for another post.

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper

“You Can’t Wake a Person Who’s Pretending to Sleep”

The more I have learned about fair trade, the more I have realized how complicated global supply systems really are.  I have also realized how difficult it is to purchase truly ethical products, because a product that is “good” in one way may be “bad” in another way (e.g. is a product both socially and environmentally sound?).  This TED Talk explains some of the issues associated with unsustainable products and realistic solutions.  I recommend it to everyone, and yes, watch the entire video.

This TED Talk (“Jason Clay: How big brands can help save biodiversity”) mentions 15 Key Commodities related to the loss of biodiversity. These commodities are: palm oil, cotton, biofuels, sugarcane, pulp & paper, sawn wood, dairy, beef, soy, fish oil & meal, farmed salmon, farmed shrimp, tuna, tropical shrimp, and whitefish.  I have a particular interest in palm oil, for reasons that I will explain in another post; however, I am also interested in how fair trade could be applied to the 15 commodities and how fair trade could fit into the framework described in the video (if you have any ideas, please add them to the comments section).  Environmental sustainability is a crucial aspect of any system that will be fair in the long run, as this article rather direly outlines.

There are many things I love about this TED video, but I want to focus on the ones that I think are most applicable to fair trade.  The video discusses shifting the entire supply chain of the 15 commodities by focusing on the top 100 companies that control 25% of the trade of these commodities (for the full picture and details watch the video).  It will be difficult, but I think this could work for sustainability.  Could the same concepts be used for fair trade?  Could a more socially fair system be implemented at the same time as an environmentally sustainable system for the 15 products?

One of the things I love most about the video is that Jason Clay is not afraid to say that we, as consumers, should be paying the true price for our products.  I could not agree more, but I have found in my own experience that many people balk at fair trade because “it costs too much,” or “I can get the same product for less if it isn’t fair trade.”  Excuses like this ignore the very real social and environmental, as well as economic, costs of our consumerism.

This leads to another point made in the video, that sustainability needs to be an integral part of the global trade system, not a choice.  I agree, and I also think that social equity needs to be a part of the system, and not a choice on the part of the consumer.  I know, for example, that I have bought plenty of unsustainable and non-fair trade cotton shirts; wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where all cotton was fair and sustainable?  I know for sure that I do not have all the answers (but perhaps you have some, please comment if you do) but what I have realized is that we all have to stop pretending to be asleep.

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern Megan Draper