Category Archives: Big Picture

Tiny Isle and 8 Billion Trees

We humans are currently experiencing a world wide epidemic that affects our lungs. Trees are known as the lungs of the earth. Is this a coincidence? We are also collectively, all of us humans around the planet, without exception, experiencing a world wide crisis on so many levels: health care systems, political systems, economies, mental health, food production and distribution systems to name a few.

While this time of unprecedented shut down and change is scary and no one knows what is going to happen it is also a time to reflect and make new choices that will affect what comes next for each of us, for humanity and for our planet. Because, as we are all learning, it is all connected.

We are currently also experiencing a moment, a pause, in our lives because much of our busy world has stopped its activity and many people are sequestered in their homes with their families and local communities. With this pause we have a space to breathe. At the same time we are forced to make changes in our usual ways of doing things which gives us a change of perspective.

It is a time to really look at our lives and the world around us. Because we are out of our routines and comfort zones we can begin to see what is working and not working in our lives, in our families, in our communities, our nations, and on our planet. In this space, not only is the air and water becoming clear for the first time in decades, we can begin to see clearly what is really important and what is not.

Current observations are finding that those who have contracted the virus in areas with high air pollution are being hit harder. There is a relationship between the way we have been living our lives and the pollution, environmental degradation and deforestation going on all around us. It is well known that trees filter the air, provide oxygen, breathe in carbon dioxide, provide a wealth of foods, medicines, and other resources to us and provide habitat for countless numbers of wildlife. Trees also draw in and help maintain moisture levels in the atmosphere and in the ground. They can even influence weather patterns.

We all know deforestation is destroying habitats, fueling climate change, and increasing pollution. Deforestation contributes to famines, desertification and shifts populations from areas that are no longer habitable creating refugees into other areas . The expanding refugee situation can cause conflicts and destabilize societies. If we don’t start to do something NOW this world will be seeing more and more pandemics, more starvation, more refugees and more and more extreme weather events. If we don’t do something Now this planet will not be a place of wonder and abundance for our children and grandchildren. And many of the animals who currently live here will be gone forever.

Many people don’t feel it’s possible to do anything to help in the face of such huge and overwhelming problems. But they are wrong. While planting trees won’t solve all the world’s issues it is something tangible that we CAN do right now that will make a BIG difference to our all connected, world wide, environment and help in saving the lives of millions of endangered animals immediately.

8 Billion Trees is doing just that. Their plan is big and profound and we all can participate easily and effortlessly. Tiny Isle has become a supporter of 8 Billion Trees so know that money you spend at Tiny Isle goes to help support this work. But you can also become a direct supporter yourself. Here is some information taken from the 8 Billion Trees website:

“At it’s core, 8 Billion Trees carries out large-scale tree planting and tree conservation operations to fuel positive environmental change and defend habitats for animals, while also caring for displaced and hurt animals by utilizing wildlife sanctuaries and veterinary clinics focused in devastated and deforested areas.

We hope to serve as an example for other companies by proving that focusing on social and environmental responsibility just as much as profit is a sustainable business model. Our mission is restoring Earth and fighting against the evils of deforestation. We are always striving to find new ways to revitalize and restore the environment. Ultimately, we are here to leave the world a better place than we found it, while inspiring others to do the same for an Earth of tomorrow that is greener and brighter for all.

Through focusing on planting and conserving trees around the world, we can fight deforestation causing habitat destruction that is displacing millions of animals, as well as man-made climate change affecting us now–and for all future generations to come. Furthermore, by conserving existing trees and planting new trees, we can help to save endangered animals like the orangutans in Indonesia, the lemurs in Madagascar and the sloths in Brazil.

By subscribing and becoming a member, you are taking a stand in the fight for a better, greener, more sustainable Earth. Furthermore, you make a powerful, direct impact in the lives of people living in less developed areas.

On Macadamia Nuts and Organic Certification

We sometimes get asked whether Tiny Isle products are organic. The answer is, as far as certification goes, no. As far as food quality and food ethics are concerned, we believe we hold our products to as high a standard as any certified organic manufacturer.

As anyone who owns a small business will likely agree, when you’re small, margins are tight. Paying for organic certification (many thousands as a yearly expense) doesn’t look like a sensible choice to us, especially in the local/artisanal products market where the organic label isn’t as necessary.

We also know that our local macadamia nut farmers and beekeepers are going to face similar choices about getting certified.

It’s Not About the Certification

Instead of looking for a certificate, we get to know our producers and see their operations. We gain firsthand knowledge of the quality of what they produce. Visiting the farm, we get a sense of their relationship to the land, and see that organic farming methods are in use. This makes sense to us, and we think that approach is also appreciated by the people who enjoy our products.

FDA: “Love” is not an Ingredient

Well, the official word is out, we’re no longer allowed to put love into our products.

Just kidding…really we’re just not allowed to list “love” as in ingredient on our product packaging.

We’ve had “love” listed as an ingredient from the beginning, and although we chose to remove it several months ago (in order to be compliant with Whole Foods’ requirements) we still love making delicious, healthful treats in our kitchens here in Kapaa. We work with conscious intention for health, healing, love and gratitude in making all our products.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t help commenting on this news item because it’s so typical of the humorlessness of these bureaucracies that can’t recognize that people have the common sense to know when something is meant as an intention as opposed to a physical thing. I mean who thinks that we have a big bag of “love” back here and are adding it by the spoonful? Metaphorically, yes, that’s exactly what we are doing…but I think everyone gets that.

Eat Chocolate and Save the Planet!

Many of us here on Kauai are concerned about the issue of food sustainability. It has long been known that plant diversity is key to food sustainability. Limiting the variety of things grown and narrowing the gene pool is like putting all your eggs into one basket. If something goes wrong all is lost. Diversity in the gene pool allows for adaptation to all kinds of changes. And, changes are inevitable. So, supporting diversity is a really good way to help ensure sustainability. Now, what does this have to do with eating chocolate one might ask. Writer Simran Sethi, says, “Eat more. Eat better chocolate. This is the path to saving the planet.”* trufflesHer commitment is highlighted in a recent email regarding our Tiny Isle Truffles in which she wrote, “I am wide awake because I ate TWO truffles! They are GORGEOUS.” **

Who is Simran Sethi besides someone who has eaten our Tiny Isle truffles and pronounced them gorgeous and what does eating chocolate have to do with food sustainability and saving the planet? Well, she is a journalist and educator who focuses on food sustainability and social change. She has been named a top 10 eco-hero of the planet by one of the the U.K.’s largest newspapers, The Independent, and she has been designated as one of the top eight women saving the planet by Marie Claire. She has also been the host of the PBS QUEST series on science and sustainability and the environmental correspondent for NBC News. And if that isn’t enough, Simran was also the anchor and writer of the Sundance Channel’s environmental programming The Green. She has been featured on the History Channel and National Public Radio, as well as on media in Australia, India and Italy. ***

Summing this up, I think I can say that she is someone who is not only concerned about this issue of food sustainability but someone who truly, passionately and deeply explores what it means. When she says that the choices we make in our kitchens, and the choices we make at the grocery store can ripple out to our food supply she knows what she is talking about. Simran has just released a book entitled  Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love. It is a book about the dramatic changes occurring in food and agriculture over the last century told through the stories of bread, wine, chocolate, coffee and beer.

This is a book about our relationship to plants, food, culture and the environment and how to explore those relationships with love, compassion, and good food. She shows us how changes in agricultural practices have made profound shifts in our relationship to food, plants, animals, and the earth. Changes made in the last 75 years have affected the health of the soil, the availability of minerals, seeds, pollinators, plants, fish, and water compromising every part of the system of life on the planet. And, she also shows us that by enjoying delicious, diverse varieties of food, by saving seeds and eating things that are being lost, like chocolate, we can make the world a better place for all beings. Luckily, Tiny Isle is here to help you do just that!

Eat more chocolate and save the planet. Hey, everyone’s has got to do their part so take one for the team and eat some chocolate today and everyday!

* from a Wall Street Journal article from Nov 25, 2015

** from an email from Simran Sethi sent to previous Tiny Isle owner Katie Ranke

*** from Simran Sethi’s website

also see the article “Why Seed Banks Aren’t the Only Answer to Food Security” from The Guardian Nov 16, 2015

For more information about Simran Sethi and her new book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love.” just click on the links in the article above .