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Gourmet chocolate, bone jewelry, vegan clothes and other cool ideas for Valentine’s Day

Posted by deborahmclaren on February 5, 2011

According to new economic predictions, Americans will spend more on Valentine’s Day this year. Amazing amounts really – almost $2.7 million! It would probably be more if Valentine’s Day was on a weekend, this year it falls on a Monday.  Think of all the sweet things we can do for our loved ones and communities if we buy-local or take a local/stay-cation! I’ve got some great ideas, but first look at the statistics:

“Consumers will be spending 5.7 percent more than last year on romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day in 2011, significantly improving upon 2009′s flat spending results, according to industry research firm IBIS World.”

Valentine's Day Spending
“Travel is the third most popular spend category for Valentine’s Day, with $2.16 billion in projected spend for 11.6 percent of the total.” And, according to another survey by the National Retail Federation, this is the first Valentine’s Day since 2008 where couples plan to spend more on each other than the year before. This year, couples will spend an average of $68.98 on their spouse or significant other.
First let’s look at greeting cards. Hand made cards are more romantic and personal than bought ones. Creating beautiful home made Valentine’s Day cards is easy. If you’re not crafty you can use a photo or even bake a giant cookie. Love notes are treasured forever. If you’re not a poet, tuck in a “coupon” that your love can redeem now or later (massage, picnic and wine under the stars, a romantic weekend getaway, cuddly movie night, whatever makes you happy). If a home made card is not your thing, find a local artist.  Etsy.com is a great place to find cards and other gifts that are made by real people, often in your own area. Here’s a lovely example of a hand crafted card that says I love you in 14 languages!

I Love You Card by riricreations in Richmond, VA (etsy.com)

Etsy.com has lots of other crafts, jewelry, etc. Check out this cute Little Wood Valentine Monster by Little Wood People in Buffalo, NY.

Little Wood Monster by Little Wood People, Buffalo, NY
Valentine Chocolates! With so many locally-made gourmet chocolates these days its easy to find traditional and exciting new recipes – especially organic fair-trade chocolate. I love chocolates that include spicy chilies. The Rogue Chocolatier, in Minneapolis, is the first true artisan chocolate maker to arrive in the Upper Midwest. The Sambirano bar, made with cacao from a single family-owned estate in Madagascar, was a winner of the 2010 Good Food Awards! One man bean-to-bar chocolate making!

Jewels for your valentine? Make sure to find a local artist that makes jewelry and avoid jeweler chains. Looks for artist co-ops, art fairs, and locally-owned clothing stores that sell jewelry.  Albany, NY artist, Corrina Goutos, combines her love for jewelry, sustainable living and veganism in her new line of jewelry: Vegan Bone Jewelry, part of Gilding the Lily, a nation-wide contemporary jewelry design company. She makes all the Jewelry by hand and is committed to employing recycled materials and sustainable found art into every piece she makes.

A rose is a rose! NOT. VeriFlora® is America’s first comprehensive sustainability certification program for the floral and potted plant industries. The VeriFlora® “Certified Sustainably Grown” label is your guarantee that flowers and potted plants have been produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner and meet the highest standards for freshness and quality. When you choose a VeriFlora® product, you are contributing to a global movement to encourage companies to become sustainable. Already, this has resulted in significant and positive change for farmers, farm workers, and the environment. Organic Bouquet, the largest online provider of eco-friendly and organic floral gifts in the US. They also provide gift baskets, fruit baskets, nut baskets, gourmet chocolates, gourmet cookies, plants, wreaths, organic cotton apparel, organic towels, and organic linens. All of these products are certified eco-friendly and/or provide for environmental benefits through participation in Carbon Offset programs.

Local food co-ops and health food stores often carry organic, locally-grown flowers these days. Hard to find in the northern climates but High Tunnel Greenhouse and Hoop House Greenhouses are changing that. With these new techniques, growing flowers year round without the need for artificial heat is possible.

If you and your love truly love good, healthy food take him/her to a slow foods dinner in your area! Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment. Good food is the language of love so delicious slow food is about the sexiest thing you can give! Slow Food promotes the celebration of food as a cornerstone of pleasure, culture and community. Find a local chapter near you by visiting the Slow Food USA website.

Many chefs and restaurants support and promote slow food, organic and locally-grown from farms, gardens and wineries near you. Look for them in your area. California isn’t the only place that produces quality wine these days. Many regions, even cold climates are successfully growing varietals appropriate for their regions. In fact, there are numerous wineries in Minnesota now!

Considering sexy new lingerie or other clothes for your sweetie? Eco-friendly bamboo is the most sustainable of natural fibers. It grows fast, requires little water, needs no pesticides, and can reach a height of 75 feet in two months. Fair Indigo and Maggies Organics are pioneers in the field of sustainable, pesticide-free clothing. Fair Indigo is a company wholly committed to making a difference in the fashion industry by creating eco-friendly and organic clothing that is made in keeping with fair trade principles. After researching cotton and learning that it is grown on 3-5% of the world’s cultivated land, and yet uses nearly 10% of the world’s pesticides and 25% of the world’s insecticides, Maggie’s Organics committed themselves to utilizing organic cotton to tell the real story behind conventional cotton clothing. Your best option is to find locally-owned clothing stores that sell these items or products designed by local artists. Check out Peta’s Shopping Guide to Compassionate Clothing for a list of dozens of cruelty-free, vegan companies.

Red Floral Bamboo Tee from Fair Indigo

A romantic Stay-Cation is a vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer. It’s an alternative to pricey, stressful vacations and is more ecologically friendly as less energy is needed to travel locally. Star-gazing and a walk in the woods are romantic and can be done very close to home. Without going far you can find locally-owned accommodations – inns, B&Bs, home exchanges, etc. Wisconsin leads the nation in production of artisan and farmstead cheeses, thanks to the work of master cheesemakers around the state. On the WI B&B website you can carve out a culinary tour based around these small-batch cheese delights. The Minnesota B&B Association offers chocolate tours along the St. Croix River Valley. If you are an Eskimo you might want to stay cozy at one of Inns North which include 21 hotels, 19 in Nunavut and 2 in the NWT, owned by the aboriginal people of Northern Canada.

Do some research – there are lots of other organizations and indie businesses that offer staycation specials. The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis offers stay-cation programs that promote 2 for 1 concerts – you can give your sweetie a whole season of beautiful music!

Here’s wishing you a beautiful Valentine’s Day! – Travel Momma

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Posted in art, Buy-local, Fair Trade, food and wine, Slow Foods, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Local Flavor Travel

Posted by deborahmclaren on November 1, 2010

Please join me on my new Facebook page which celebrates LOCAL food, art, culture, heritage and travel. Please feel free to post about locally-owned businesses, organizations and events! See you THERE!

Buying local is the best investment in our economy!

Posted in art, Buy-local, ecotour, entreprenuers, Fair Trade, family travel, food and wine, green music, Indigenous tourism, microenterprise, Minnesota, Saint Paul, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, theater, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Facebook page for Local Flavor Travel

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 8, 2010

Please join my local flavor travel page and help direct travelers to locally-owned businesses, organizations and events!
Face Book: Local Flavor Travel

Posted in Buy-local, entreprenuers, Fair Trade, green travel, microenterprise, Minnesota, Slow Foods, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, travel | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Show Your Fair Trade, Organic Love on Valentine’s Day

Posted by deborahmclaren on January 22, 2010

Valentine’s Day Flowers and Chocolates that Support the Environment!

According to TransFair USA, the Fair Trade Certified label on your bouquet means that flower workers, most of whom are women, can put food on their tables, send their children to school, invest in community development, and use sustainable farming methods.

The best idea – buy locally! However, if you live in a northern climate like I do, that’s not always easy to do so you want to check with TransFair to determine where you can purchase certified flowers. You can also order organic flowers online for delivery, and support a good environmental cause at the same time – what’s not to like?

For local flowers, first search Local Harvest and find a floral farm, farmer’s market or CSA near you. By cutting down on transportation distances, you’ll be supporting local business and saving on carbon emissions – something anyone would love. Local blooms vary, so Local Harvest also offers lots of unique choices that can be ordered from their site.

One World Flowers believes in supporting sustainable business practices, human rights compliance, and fair compensation for workers in countries all over the world. According to their mission statement, “Suppliers of agricultural products are often pressured by American and European companies to lower costs in order to keep prices low for consumers. Many people don’t realize that because of this, hundreds of thousands of workers in South America, Asia, and Africa are exposed to physical, mental, and sexual abuse each day at work. In the floral industry, most of these workers are women who are not paid fairly for the long hours they are sometimes forced to work. In addition, workers are not given protective gear to wear when dealing with the dozens of harmful chemicals that are used to grow flowers. As a result, many of their children are stillborn or have major birth defects. Fair Trade is changing all of this!”

The Organic Consumer’s Union has made it easy for us to choose not just flowers but lots of other special Valentine’s day treats for our loved ones. Check out their suggestions for fair trade, organic flowers and chocolate!

My pick this year is EcoLogic Development Fund’s organic bouquet.

This Valentine’s Day show your loved one how much you really care with an organic bouquet! EcoLogic has teamed up with Organic Bouquet to offer you a special opportunity.

Purchase a special bouquet of sustainably grown Crown Majesty Roses for that special someone and Organic Bouquet will donate 10% of your purchase to EcoLogic. (The full 10% will be applied at checkout.)

You can show your love for your valentine and the environment at the same time! Visit Organic Bouquet today at http://www.organicbouquet.com/ECOLOGICVDAY2010
to get your flowers delivered in time for the holiday!

Next week I’ll take a peek at eco-friendly Valentine get-aways and organic wines.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted in Buy-local, Fair Trade, food and wine | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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