For some, Valentines Day is a revered holiday. For others, it is anticipated about as much as its ironical abbreviation, VD.
No matter where you fall on the VD spectrum - STD or love contest - if you are so inclined, you can give your loved ones tokens of affection that don't hurt other people, the environment or require a culture and a walk of shame to the public clinic.
Chocolate - yum. Chocolate milk, chocolate fudge, chocolate dipped bananas and strawberries, chocolate body paint, chocolate slaves - wait, slaves, what??
Years ago I saw a small piece on Dateline which highlighted the documentary, "Slavery: A Global Investigation"; you can now watch it online for free in two parts, here and here. In it they interview a boy who was recently rescued from a cacao plantation. They asked him if he had ever tasted chocolate, "No". He was then asked what he wanted to tell people who ate chocolate, he answered, "Tell them when they eat chocolate they are eating my flesh".
I saw those scars, burst into tears, ordered the documentary, did lots of research and changed my ways. I learned that most of the chocolate that comes into our country is harvested by slaves. Chocolate is made from cacao which is predominately grown in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana. Both, but Cote d'Ivoire especially, are notorious for using slaves on the plantations that grow the cacao.
The easiest way to avoid this is to purchase Fair Trade Certified, which will have this label:
Other things to look for is for cacao from south America instead.
Newman's Own sources all of their chocolate from "slave free" farms - caramel filled chocolate cups, OMG!
If you live in Orange County, head on over to Mother's Market - they have quite a nice selection.
Here are some "safe" chocolate manufacturers (this is in no way a comprehensive list):
Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Macadamia Nut Ice Cream (heaven!!!)
Sunspire (not all products are labeled FTC but according to the company all cacao is sourced from plantations with fairly paid employees)
Sweet Earth Chocolates (organic too!!)
Endangered Species (Bug Bites are great for kids and co-workers)
Rapunzel - (try their Choconut for body paint, yum!!!!!!!)
Kopali Organics (chocolate w/banana is the best combination on earth!)
If your significant other swoons when they receive flowers, instead of ordering them when they are out of season, shipped from another country, possibly raised and picked by exploited labor check out California Organic Flowers. Yes, overnight shipping is not ideal, even with purchasing carbon offsets, but baby steps.
EARTH FRIENDLY GIFTS
Does your lover really need another stuffed animal made from and stuffed with polyester (oil), made in China most likely by exploited labor and then had to be shipped to the US? Yes? Okay, in spite of my intense hatred for stuffed animals, I will suggest Stuffington. Stuffington's creations are made in the US. That still leaves polyester and shipping but baby steps people.
If you are looking to get laid on VD (hopefully without receiving the gift of VD), you are going to have to give your present some thought.
Something that your loved one NEEDS. Do they hate walking the dog, doing the dishes, need a wall painted, need the garage cleaned, in dire need of a lap dance? Do that for them!
Spend some time with your loved one. Take your kid to the park, take your mother to a movie, take your husband to a strip club, talk to your wife!
Make a special meal. Do it together. Go to the local farmers market or if you are in south Orange County go to South Coast Farm, together. Go home, put on your organic cotton apron (you don't want to be frying bacon nekid people!) and handle those meats and veggies - together. Before you heat up some olive oil in the pan for the veggies, heat it up on their skin first!
Want something a little more tangible but personal? Go check out Etsy! Oh my gosh I lurve me some Etsy. There is something for everyone there. You can even search for sellers near you! Once I place my order I always request of the seller, "please do not use any plastic to mail this and please use recycled (ugly and funky are fine with me) shipping materials".
Have fun, be creative, tread lightly and show your love without hurting others, the earth or contracting an STD!