Closure to attend Climate Strike Toronto

As an expression of our sense of urgency for climate action, Birds and Beans will be closed between 10am and 3pm on September 27, 2019 to enable us to attend the Toronto Global Climate Strike.

We stand and clearly say that business as usual is a dead end.

We are aware that we are living within a system that has gone rogue.

We support action that acknowledges our impact on the future of life on earth.

For the greater good we are willing to

    • pay more,
    • work harder,
    • give up conveniences,
    • be mindful and
    • share.

We ask you to join us in Toronto or wherever you may be.

Grab and Go Wraps – Conscious Food!

Tuna wrap in the process of being assembled
How about our Egg Salad Wrap and Boreal Berry Smoothie for lunch?

We are delighted to introduce our new grab and go wraps!  We have 4 great hearty choices ready to eat in our retail refrigerator.  And of course they are consistent with all of our values: high quality and delicious; GMO free; palm oil free; cruelty free; mostly organic.  

We spent weeks testing recipes to ensure they are meal worthy and delicious!  Then we made sure the ingredients meet our commitment to our values.

The wraps are in delicious 11 inch Indian Life Tortillas. They are non-GMO verified and mostly organic. 

All animal products (cheese and eggs) are Canadian produced certified organic.  Since the Canada Organic Standard has a strict animal welfare provision we can be assured the animals were not factory farmed and were treated with care.   

And since we have ensured no ingredient contains palm oil (or sneaky palm derivatives), we withhold support from the appalling destruction of forests in Indonesia and the unimaginable suffering the palm industry inflicts on forest wildlife like orangutans.

Our tuna is Raincoast Wild Skipjack, the most sustainable tuna available in Canada according to the World Wildlife Fund market assessment.  It is fished by local Maldives fishers with pole and line, so produces no bycatch and no habitat damage.  WWF verifies 100% traceability from boat to package.

We make our own vegan Flax “Mayo” so that factory farmed eggs don’t sneak in via conventional mayo.  Most of our ingredients are certified organic and any that are not are otherwise guaranteed GMO free.

And we have thought this through to the end by serving our amazing wraps in old fashioned If You Care waxed paper:  No single use plastic!

We hope you enjoy our delicious real food and the convenience of grab and go!

Egg SaladTuna SaladCheese & Green AppleRoasted Pepper & Hummus
🥕
*Eggs, *Spring Mix, *Potatoes, Mix Veggies, Eggless Mayo, Salt, Pepper.Sustainable Raincoast Tuna, *Spring Mix, *Potatoes, Mix Veggies, Eggless Mayo, Salt, Pepper.*Cheese, *Apple, *Spring Mix, Eggless Mayo, Mustard.*Roasted Peppers, Hummus, *Spring Mix, *Chickpeas.

IndianLife Tortilla🥕, *Organic Spring Mix​🥕(Organic leafy greens), Chopped Veggies🥕 (*Bell Peppers, Red Onions, *Green Onions, *Celery, *Dill), Flax Mayo🥕 (Sunflower Oil, *Flax seeds, Vinegar, Mustard, Honey) Made in-house, Classic Hummus by Sunflower Kitchen🥕

Palm Oil Free | Cruelty Free | GMO-Free | *Organic | 🥕Vegan 

Available August 9, 2019

Birds and Beans Café’s Curator’s Corner

A richer taste, a richer earth®.
Greenpeace Tuna Ranking
Bean to Bar Chocolate
Organic Boreal Fruit Smoothie
Sunflower Kitchen non-GMO Vegan Soups

As Birds and Beans Café approaches its 15th year anniversary we decided to celebrate by launching our Curator’s Corner!  

Over the last 15 years we have searched high and low for products that exemplify our values and compliment our certified Bird Friendly coffee.  We have assembled ingredients bursting with natural flavours, that are healthy and are genuinely sustainably produced.  

In the complexity of real world label claims, we have developed several purchasing criteria.  Some are hard rules and others weigh one aspect against another:

Steadfast, unwavering commitment to

    • Certified Organic and Bird Friendly coffee
    • No ingredients with GMOs 
    • No items with palm oil
    • No factory farmed animal products
    • No drinks in plastic bottles
    • No single use plastic service items 

Additionally, where possible 

    • Certified organic ingredients
    • Local 
    • Independent
    • Responsible packaging

In celebration of our 15th year, we are assembling a corner in the café where you too can purchase the items we have found.  Over the next weeks and months, we will introduce items and explain why they belong in the collection. We’ll describe some of our menu items too.  

So join Birds and Beans Café as we celebrate our 15th year as we explore our Curated Collection of offerings.

We are committed to our co-workers!

We are committed to a shared future with our co-workers.  Employees who demonstrate commitment and leverage to the team, and who are devoted to our values, are eligible to participate in a  generous employee ownership program.  This program is designed to be available to all long-term employees and offers meaningful equity with no upfront money investment.

Employee owners are shareholders with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities.  All employee owners participate in the ownership board that is responsible for strategic decision making. This includes how to invest and distribute profits, what risks to take, and, within the confines of our values, setting the direction of the business.

This structure provides real and significant rewards for hard work and innovation.  In employee opportunity, Birds and Beans soars above the crowd!

Birds and Beans Gives more than a Hill of Beans

Pine Warbler taken on the April 2016 Bird Walk Sponsored by Birds and Beans.

As a family owed small business, our donation history punches well above our weight class.  In addition to supporting the suppliers who provide us with products and services that embody our values, we also generously support initiatives that

    1. are aimed at preserving and restoring habitat for birds and other wildlife;
    2. add value to our community and are conducted within the immediate vicinity of the café.

We donate to Ontario Nature and Bird Studies Canada as a portion of sales of their special edition coffees.  While our coffee sourcing supports biodiversity in coffee growing regions, they preserve support wildlife habitat here at home.

In our local community, we donate generously to our long term partners: Mimico-by-the-Lake BIA, Citizens Concerned about the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront (CCFEW), and Lakeshore Arts  Their community building efforts are much appreciated and we enjoy long term friendship.

If you have a donation request, please tell us how we can become long term friends and let us know how your initiative preserves habitat, or how it builds community here in Mimico.

Birds and Beans are proud founding sponsors of Lakeshorts International Short Film Festival

Reflecting on 5 (now 7) Years being Palm Oil Free

Update: Now 7 years in and holding steadfast. Have you noticed our treats taste better too?

Warning!  These images reflect the consequences of our blind consumerism. 

Whether you join us or not, we are not buying anything with palm oil. Because we are not going to feed the monster.

Single organgutan in the last tree standing after deforestation for palm oil
Palm oil is UBIQUITOUS! It the preferred oil for the 10 Food companies responsible for almost all global brands

Most of you will not be able to watch this.  If you can even bear to scan this article about the film you may be forever changed.

” ‘She has lost everything’: Filmmaker’s heart-wrenching documentary shows tragic final hours of orangutan’s life as her rainforest home is ruthlessly destroyed”

On “Sustainable” Palm Oil, we say NO!

The palm oil industry responds to the resistance to palm oil claiming that we need palm oil and so it is better to produce it sustainably.  It is our position that sustainable palm oil is a ruse by “big agriculture” and “big food” to silence opposition and continue business as usual. Their so called certification fails all three tests of a credible certification:

    1. a public standard set to achieve a purpose with monitoring against its effectiveness
    2. chain of custody traceability
    3. verification by an independent third party

So called sustainable palm oil has none of these.  In our view even certified organic palm oil is rewarding what was appalling destruction 20 or 30 years ago.  It is not healthy and not necessary.  We say NO!

It has been 5 years since Birds and Beans Café went completely palm oil free.  David and I went palm oil free at home at the same time.  So we thought it would be interesting to discuss how its going with us as well as look at what has changed in the industry.

The palm oil problem is the shocking destruction of forests perpetrated in its production.  These forests are often taken from indigenous peoples without permission nor compensation and laid waste for all but the gluttonous palm oil industry.  Of special notice, is the horrifying pain and suffering faced by displaced animals, most of whom are endangered species.   I doubt most readers can tolerate looking at the images.  

When David and I came to understand this in 2012, at a visceral level, our resolve kicked in: Under no circumstances will we support this monstrous behavior!

So this is not a crusade, nor do I imagine our stance or communication will make a meaningful impact on the industry.  But my body and my soul ache for the pain we inflict, and I will not support it.  

Click through for a longer list

At first it was difficult to find products without palm.  Palm oil ingredients are UBIQUITOUS!  And big food sneaks it into the ingredient lists so we have to learn to recognize it.

Once we understood that “vegetable oil” is a cover for palm oil, we realized that palm is in most processed foods (and most consumer soaps and cleaners).  For health reasons we were also motivated to reduce salt and we noticed that most processed foods are loaded with salt (and sugar) too.  It was overwhelming!  Where to begin!  

We took a step at a time approach.  We looked at

  1. what we purchased the most
  2. what we didn’t need

We found processed foods that use sunflower, safflower or other explicitly stated oil1.  You won’t find these at the 7-11, but most responsible grocery stores have something.  We continued item by item.  

Over time, perhaps a year, we found we were preparing our own food again.  This would have seemed impossible at the beginning of this process, but by changing one thing at a time, it happened on its own.  We shifted our shopping from the big grocery retailers to smaller organic grocers.  Interestingly, by bringing our food preparation back in-house, we found it was less expensive too!

We noticed that the huge loads of sugar, salt and fats in processed foods dull our flavour pallets, so it took some time for our pallets to recover back to full taste sensitivity. Now, I just cannot eat a conventional tomato… they are bland and pithy.  

The food processing industry has convinced us that we need them, but we don’t.  The cost of outsourcing our food preparation is extremely high and it does not save as much time as we imagine.  We have now established new shopping habits and we support local grocers and organic production. Preparing food has shifted to a shared pleasure followed by the shared delight of real flavours! My fear of living on chickpeas and rice was utterly unfounded…Quite the opposite! That fear was planted by big food to keep me addicted to their low quality, bland, unhealthy food that is engineered to their lowest cost.  

And by their lowest cost, I mean the unfathomable cost of the utter destruction of entire ecosystems and the human and animal inhabitants. The cost of life on earth.  And the cost of all of us becoming monstrous.  Cheap oil?  Really?

If you got to here, now you know.  You can never go back.  What you do now is who you are.

  1. Since banning palm oil from our diet and the café, we have since banned GMO foods.  Over 90% of canola oil is GMO, so now it is banned from our diet and the café too.

 

What is up with the Fair Trade logo?

You will notice a new Fair Trade logo on our website and packaging this month.  There have been some changes in the fair trade system this year, and, we are now licensed with a different certifier: Fair Trade USA.  Their fair trade logo looks like this.

Fair Trade Logo

So what is going on?  And what does it mean?

Well in short, the fair trade system now has multiple third party certifiers, each with slightly different criteria.  This is similar to the organic system in which there are well defined criteria on what is required for a product to be organic and there are several certifiers (Ecocert, Procert, and many more) who audit processes and records to ensure compliance with that standard.

It differs from the organic system in that the criteria for fair trade used by Fair Trade USA are now slightly different than those used by Fair Trade Canada.  The differences between them are subtle and are motivated by a differing views on how best to meet the goals of Fair Trade.  The goals remain common.

As licensees, we are disappointed by the confusion this disruption that has been caused by this shift.  While there seems to be rather vicious debate between advocates of these 2 systems (and the Rainforest Alliance actually), we remain focused on uncertified product as the problem:  where workers have no rights, poor pay and no security and where small producers have poor access to credit and to markets.  We believe effort should be spent on increasing the market for socially certified coffee rather than debating the merits of the various social responsibility certifications all of which have made significant improvements in the lives of real people.

From our perspective, the most important aspect of any certification including one for social responsibility, is that

  • it has published criteria that are developed openly and can be seen to be achieving their stated goals
  • the criteria are verified at every step by an independent third party
  • that chain of custody is unbroken so every party from producer to consumer willingly commits to third party verification

This brings us to why Birds and Beans, a Canadian family owned company, has landed with Fair Trade USA.  As the Canadian leader in certified Bird Friendly® coffee we are not able to purchase our raw coffee from the list of FTO coffees offered by local importers (as almost all other Canadian roasters do).  We have had to build our own global supply chain.

Our supply chain is complex and specialized and we have partnered with several like minded buyers in the USA to meet our goals.  Our buying partners have always been licensees of Fair Trade USA.  In order for us to preserve the new chain of custody requirements, we have joined them and now report through Fair Trade USA.

Chico Depulping
Chico depulping the coffee cherries on Gaia Estate

We are offering the same coffees grown, purchased and certified under the same conditions as we always have.  The only thing that has changed is the logo.  In the future, we hope to be able to add coffees sourced from our estate farmers (who were who had been ineligible for fair trade certification as independent family farms) as Fair Trade Certified.

 

People and Coffee

Fair Trade Logo

Coffee is a huge global industy. There is a lot of money in the coffee industry, but very little goes to the growers. The price of coffee is set by global commodity markets. The forces at work in these markets are skewed by the interests of a few huge multinational food companies. These forces are utterly out of the control of growers. As a result, coffee prices fluctuate from prices that can sustain the lives of growers near the poverty line in good years to below the price of production in others. The lives of these growers are uncertain and marginal.

 Fair trade is intended to by-pass the global coffee distribution chain and define another kind of trade. Trade that provides stability to the growers by offering credit, establishing long term trading relationships, and establishing minimum prices that enable a decent life to growers.

Marvin's kids try birding

Long term relationships give coffee farmers and their families confidence in their future. With this confidence children can go to school believing that they will have the opportunity to complete their studies. Access to credit enables growers to band together in co-operatives and invest in alternate processing and storage facilities and establish their own export companies that deal directly with importers into North America, Europe and Australia.

The benefits of this method of distribution are just as profound to the end consumer: because the beans from the single origin are not mingled with others from the country, the quality and uniqueness of the single origin are maintained. This means that the growers become rewarded for the quality character of their particular crop and that gives them incentive to continually improve. In this process, growers shift from labourers to connoisseurs and the end consumer here in North America is the ultimate beneficiary. Win-Win 

All of the coffee purchased by Birds and Beans is fairly traded. Almost all our coffees are certified by FairTrade USA and the rest by the Rainforest Alliance.

On certifications, Birds and Beans is Soaring above the Crowd™.

Indigo Bunting
Indigo Bunting
It takes more than a pretty picture of a bird to be
Certified Bird Friendly!

At Birds and Beans we strongly believe in third party certification.  Certifications are a way for us to participate in a voluntary chain of trust while harnessing third party verification.

We trust our growers and our importers based on our shared values and our joint support of certification programs. We earn your trust through our certification and our willingness to be verified. It is the chain of verified trust that ensures that people and the environment are protected.

Be part of the chain: Look for the certification seals.

On certifications, Birds and Beans is Soaring above the Crowd™.

All of our coffees are Certified Bird Friendly® with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to offer our coffees. See our up to date listing on the SMBC website here.

All of our coffees are certified organic by Ecocert Canada, an accredited certification body in Ontario. See our current certificate.

In addition to being certified Organic and Bird Friendly, all our coffees are purchased under fair and respectful social conditions and are certified by either Fair Trade USA or the Rainforest Alliance.  All of our coffees are Direct Trade via our import partners.

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