It Took Ten Thousand Villages To Raise This Cheese!

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.

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A handmade card, Olive Oil and Za’atar from Palestine, a cheese knife from India and a lovely plate from Vietnam.

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.

The aroma from these spices was amazing

The aroma from these spices was amazing

The Fromage Blanc was waiting to be used.

The Fromage Blanc was waiting to be used.

So I decided to make a Fromage Blanc log and roll it in the Za’atar.

I could not get over how much I loved the smell of the spice.

I could not get over how much I loved the smell of the spice.

All rolled up.

All rolled up.

Now I wanted to wrap this and let the Za'atar do its thing on the surface of the cheese.

Now I wanted to wrap this and let the Za’atar do its thing on the surface of the cheese.

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?

I really wanted to use the plate and this cool cheese knife with the Fromage Blanc log

I really wanted to use the plate and this cool cheese knife with the Fromage Blanc log

I am really impressed with this knife.

I am really impressed with this knife.

Like the plate it was nicely made.

Like the plate it was nicely made.

I wanted to try and cut the cheese in rounds.

I wanted to try to cut the cheese in rounds.

I know that some people dip bread in olive oil and Za'atar, why not drizzle some on the cheese.

I know that some people dip bread in olive oil and Za’atar, why not drizzle some on the cheese.

It gave the cheese a nice colour and it seemed to provide a nice fruity aroma.

It gave the cheese a nice colour and it seemed to give a nice fruity aroma.

Flavour wise it worked, it really worked.

Flavour wise it worked, it really worked.

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.

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