Drinks & Sweets
The Food: Wine and Champagne
The issue: Those bottles are heavy (from 3 pounds up to 4 pounds for the 750 ml Champagne and sparkling wine bottles), and trucking them across the country guzzles carbon.
The fix: Drink French. Or Chilean, or even Australian—any wine shipped by water, a greener transportation method. Lightest, and therefore best: boxed wine. Try Black Box Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or Spain’s Yellow +Blue Rosé at Astor Wines, or France’s From The Tank Côtes du Rhône, at Alphabet City Wine Co.
The Food: Coffee
The issue: Because Third-World farmers often aren’t paid living wages, and thus can’t afford to grow crops sustainably, most brands of beans come with a bagload of environmental problems like rainforest-clearing, methane gas (used to speed drying) and fertilizer pollution.
The fix: Look for shade-grown (grown under the existing rain-forest canopy); beans that are “dry-processed” to conserve water and energy; and Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance seals, which indicate better labor conditions in countries of origin. Franny’s owner Francine Stephens likes the Queens roaster Dallis Coffee, available at Whole Foods.
The Food: Sugar
The issue: Dessert is the best part of the meal, but... There are child-labor concerns in sugar cane producing El Salvador and Philippines, and a WWF report found sugar may be the top environmental offender of all crops due to widespread chemical use in farming, land clearing, and waste from fertilizer runoff.
The fix: Organic sugars are far less damaging to the environment; Fair Trade–endorsed sugars ensure better conditions for workers and the land. Wholesome Sweeteners gets high marks for using its spent cane to generate electricity for the mills. It’s sold at The Food Emporium, Gristedes, and Fairway.
The Food: Chocolate
The issue: On top of concerns about the clearing and polluting of rainforest land to create room for cocoa fields, most cocoa is grown in poor areas of Ghana, Brazil and the Ivory Coast, where workers (and in the Ivory Coast that sometimes includes children) are often paid below subsistence levels.
The fix: Buy chocolate that’s shade-grown with a Fair Trade seal. Bklyn Larder in Park Slope stocks shade-grown brands, such as Askinosie.