Over the past few years I have received several emails asking me to review products, everything from beef jerky to cars. I tend to ignore most of them as they don’t have anything to do with cheese, but when I was sent an email about Ten Thousand Villages and asking me to review some of their products I said yes. Why you ask? They are a nonprofit Fair Trade Organization that help Artisans in developing countries to get their products to markets through fair trade. It is summed up in their “about us” section on their website:
Ten Thousand Villages is the oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America, selling artisan-crafted personal accessories, home decor and gift items from around the globe.
Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the relief and development agency of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in North America. Ten Thousand Villages has its roots in the work begun by Edna Ruth Byler in 1946.
Ten Thousand Villages is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), a coalition of handicraft and agricultural producer organizations, and Fair Trade organizations from both the North and the South.
Our Mission Statement
Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.
So when this package arrived the other day I was really excited.
I thought that they really did their homework when they sent me a little plate and the cheese knife, but what would I do with the Olive Oil and what the heck was Za’atar? After looking it up, I found out it is a Middle Eastern spice mix with thyme, sesame sees, salt and a few other ingredients. This package came from a Women’s Co-operative in Palestine, as did the Olive Oil. I had a batch of Fromage Blanc, so it was time to experiment.
So I decided to make a Fromage Blanc log and roll it in the Za’atar.
I let the log sit in the fridge overnight and then it was time to give things a try, but still what would I do with the olive oil?
When I was a younger man, a self-absorbed young man, I could have cared less about how an Artisan in a developing country made their living or if they received fair value for their hard work. Thankfully I have become a little more informed towards their efforts and thanks to organizations like Ten Thousand Villages. You can shop online or visit one of their many locations in Canada. They have stores from British Columbia to New Brunswick you can find the listing for all the stores here. We have one in Edmonton and I know I will be making a visit or two in the next little while.