The finest organic products and the best companies
“An organic top 20 is a great initiative. I hope it inspires a lot of readers to pay more attention while doing their shopping.” This was one of the many reader reactions we received to our October cover story. We hoped our listing of socially and ecologically responsible products, and companies with a socially and ecologically responsible policies, would highlight how consumers and companies can contribute to creating a more sustainable world.
And now for the winners of the first annual Ode Awards. They were selected on the basis of responses from Ode readers and staff, with special attention to these products’ quality, usefulness, distinctive approach and company policies. To all who sent submissions: thanks! To the winners: congratulations! To those who were not chosen: our sincere compliments on a job well done.
Next year Ode will present a new listing selection of the world’s finest organic and fair trade products and the best companies. Nominate your favorites by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org under the subject heading: Organic Top.
The best organic product
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that it was our female readers who expressed support for Natracar’e sanitary products. The tampons and sanitary napkins produced by this British company stand out because of what they don’t contain: no chemicals in the cotton or rayon, no chlorine or other chemical bleaching agents, no artificial additives. That’s extremely important because few products get as close to a woman’s body as these. They are also made from biodegradable materials, which offers an unprecedented benefit to the environment.
Whole Earth Foods’ cola deserves an honorable mention. A number of readers were enthusiastic to learn that there is an organic version of this popular soft drink. As is the case with Natracare’s products, this cola can be purchased at most health food stores.
The best fair trade product
Green %amp% Black’s
Chocolate is the sort of product that makes you appreciate economic globalization. There are no cocoa trees in Europe, the U.S. or Canada. But chocolate also highlights the problems with economic globalization. The price that most cocoa farmers get for their beans is disproportionate to our enjoyment of this luxurious treat. Fortunately, there are chocolate producers that consider good relations with their raw materials suppliers just as important as buoyant sales figures. Green %amp% Black’s is one such company, whose quality was widely praised among our chocoholic readers. Over 150 small, independent cocoa farmers in Belize, the Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Ecuador help get this British company’s delicious chocolate bars onto shelves at health food stores in Europe and the United States. Green %amp% Black’s was also the first chocolate producer to receive an organic certificate.
The best company
The praise we heard for this company via e-mail was overwhelming. “By investing as a Dutch company in a country like Uganda, you send out a strong signal to the local community about how social labor standards can be integrated in the corporate culture.” And: “It shows how a Dutch company can have a positive influence without making it about charity.”
So Bo Weevil, the clothing company from Ermelo, Netherlands, aims to boost organic cotton cultivation in Uganda and good conditions for textile industry employees in Turkey. It sells a range of clothing to wholesalers, stores and internet shops, in addition to fabrics, towels, bathrobes and cotton.
The founders of Bo Weevil, who used to work in the health food business, are following a similar path to mainstream retail acceptability. Organic food is increasingly penetrating average supermarkets, and finding organic clothing at your local shops is the logical next step. After all, you wear cotton close to your skin, and in hot weather perspiration can interact with the chemicals used in non-organic cotton. Clothing made with organically cultivated cotton is not only better from the perspective of cotton farmers—who often suffer dramatic health problems from pesticides and other chemicals—but organic cotton also feels more flexible and soft.
Our international choice
A few readers wrote in asking why not all the products in the Organic Top 20 were available in every country. We consciously chose an international selection to demonstrate that green and organic are a global trend. You can’t stop inspiration at national borders. For instance, a beer that decides to obtain its ingredients locally, or a manufacturer of garlic products that creates employment for underprivileged migrants, can inspire other entrepreneurs anywhere in the world.