Pretty soon, as we’ve mentioned, we’ll be launching Small Kitchen: College, a new site dedicated to all things foodie and collegiate. We appreciate your patience as we get that side of things running! You had one sneak preview, here, and today we bring you another, from Emily Olsson, a recent graduate of Colgate University and a writer for the soon-to-launch college site. She studied International Relations and Art History, and when she wasn’t in the library or Slices, she volunteered at the Friendship Inn and with the Colgate Hunger Outreach Program (CHOP). She plans real and imaginary parties for friends when she is bored/procrastinating, and she also loves to bake cookies, cupcakes, cakes, etc. Read on for her take on Valentine’s Day, a look at gifts that give back.
–Cara & Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS
Everything around me is turning pink, red, and heart shaped. This can only mean one thing: it’s almost Valentine’s Day! For some reason this holiday can make otherwise normal people kind of nutty. They range from the grump who swears Valentine’s Day is a bogus holiday that was dreamt up by Hallmark and the candy companies, to the overly lovey-dovey, to the obsessives who try to find a Valentine and who inevitably send themselves flowers and gorges on chocolate when that doesn’t work out. I don’t understand why Valentine’s Day gets under people’s skin so much. My general feeling about this holiday is that it is about love…not just loving your significant other.
Hippie-ish sounding, I know, but I think Valentine’s Day would create fewer crazies if we all went back to treating it like we did in elementary school: everybody gets valentines and candy, and that’s it.
Therefore, as Valentine’s Day approaches, consider spreading the love around. Send flowers to someone in a nursing home, hand out candy to a bunch of people, do a random act of kindness, or volunteer with your valentine. If you still want to give your loved one the traditional gift of chocolate though why not consider one that gives back. Some ideas, below:
1. Cookies for Kids with Cancer
For Valentine’s Day, you can send your loved one a dozen cookies (I prefer them over fancy chocolates!) from Cookies for Cancer. There are 8 yummy flavors, and they are made even better by the cause behind them. 100% of the profits will go toward pediatric cancer research. Gretchen and Harry Witt created Cookies for Cancer after they found out their 2 ½ year old son, Liam, had Neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects the nervous system.
2. Baking for Good
A BGSK favorite, this website is like an online bake sale with a bunch of great homemade goodies. For Valentine’s Day there are peppermint brownies, heart shaped cookies and French macaroons. The best part is that 15% of your purchase is donated to a cause that sets your heart a-flutter. What could be better? Yesterday was the last day for Valentine’s Day orders, but you can still impress your loved one with an I.O.U.
3. Divine Chocolates
Americans spend billions of dollars on chocolate a year, especially around Valentine’s Day. However, most of the people who grow cocoa (the bean that chocolate is made from) are impoverished–many even work as slaves. So, instead of buying some mass-produced heart shaped box full of chocolate, why not get fair trade chocolate? Companies that produce fair trade chocolate are ones that ensure they give cocoa growers either market price or above for their goods. One place to order fair trade chocolate for Valentine’s Day is Divine Chocolates.
4. Sweetriot Cacao Nibs
This is also fair trade chocolate, but Sweetriot focuses its efforts in Latin America while Divine Chocolate is concentrated on Ghana. Sweetriot “peaces,” as they are called, are for someone who loves dark chocolate. They are 100% dark cacao nibs covered in dark chocolate with the added bonus that each tin is only 140 calories. This is one gift that will spend a moment on your valentine’s lips, but not forever on his/her hips!
5. Rescue Chocolate
As their website says, “Rescue chocolate is ‘the sweetest way to save a life.’” All of the net proceeds from the sale of this 100% vegan chocolate are given to animal rescue organizations around the country. There are 7 different kinds of chocolates available (each with adorable names such as Bow Wow Bon Bons), as well as shirts and leashes.
6. ONEHOPE Wine
I wouldn’t be too upset with my valentine if he brought me some of this wine instead of chocolate, but this is the only situation I can envision in which that would be acceptable. A portion (the website will tell you how much of your sale is being donated) of all ONEHOPE wine sales are given to one of seven causes, such as supporting troops and fighting AIDS. Also, consider bringing a bottle to any Valentine’s Day party because the labels make a great conversation starter!
Emily is a recent grad of Colgate University, where she studied International Relations and Art History and volunteered at the Friendship Inn and with the Colgate Hunger Outreach Program. She loves to bake cookies.