We celebrated our fourth birthday at Dottie's Coffee Lounge, in Pittsfield MA. Dottie's was the first place that sold Fire Cider, and four years later we are partnered with over 600 local shops, cafes and co-ops around the country. Here's a fun video in case you missed the party- Big Thanks to all our friends, family and business partners that came out in a huge snow storm to celebrate with us, we love you guys!
I am always looking for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. At home and at work, I know how important it is to shop responsibly. When it comes to the kitchen and our home environment in general, there are a lot of ways to save money and reduce our impact on the earth. Fact: I have not bought or used plastic wrap in YEARS! Same with paper towels and plastic bags. Yes, you can live without those throwaway products, and yes, there are alternatives that are healthier for you and for the environment, all while saving you money.
Check it out: Let's say you pay $2.49 for a 100 foot roll of plastic wrap. So if you use 8 rolls a year, that costs you $19.92. You will use all the plastic wrap, a few feet at a time, slowly throwing away the entire roll. Yes, you just paid for garbage that will now spend decades not rotting in a landfill. Same goes for those sandwich bags, zip lock bags, paper towels, you get the idea. It's all garbage; it's all going to end up in a landfill polluting the earth that we rely on for food, clean water, clean air, you know, life as we know it.
Now consider a 3-pack of Bee's Wrap for $18, which will last for a full year, and when it's done keeping your groceries fresh, you can compost it, and it will become part of next year's garden. Or, use it as a fire starter in your wood stove. It's a little less money and zero waste.
Bee's Wrap is made from organic cotton infused with bee's wax, jojoba oil and tree resin. Plus you get to feel really good about yourself by supporting a sustainable, earth friendly business, instead of a mega-corporation that produces trash. Everyone wins!
Paper towels and paper napkins are an even easier fix. Instead of buying and throwing away toxic bleached paper products that are stripping our land of oxygen-producing plants, you can buy some washable kitchen towels and napkins and turn your clothes that are too far gone into rags for messier projects. And when you absolutely need to, you can use bamboo towels that can be washed and reused as well. Bambooee is the brand that I recommend. On their site they state this: "Trees are being cut down at an unsustainable rate and 3,000 tons of paper towel waste are produced per day. (According to the US Environmental Protection Agency)."
Here are my rules for shopping: is this healthy for me, is it made by a company that is in alignment with my values, is it earth friendly, ie is the product and its packaging biodegradable, recyclable or reusable? If the answers are all yes, then buy it! There are 313.9 million people in this country; if we each do a little, it will add up to a lot more resources for us all to enjoy for many generations to come. So make the switch, save money and our planet, how's that for multitasking?!
We are celebrating another small step in the right direction: our new packing materials just arrived! Every Fire Cider order will now be wrapped in recycled, recyclable and reusable cushioned brown paper. Goodbye plastic bubble wrap!
We are still using compostable food starch packing peanuts, which you can easily compost at home. Only now, the peanuts are wrapped in a biodegradable pillow, so they are contained and easy to re-use or toss into the compost. Don't you wish every business used earth friendly packaging?
It's never too soon to start or to at least start bugging your local haunts to make the switch! Coming later this fall: 100% post-consumer custom Fire Cider boxes and paper tape. Yeah, paper tape instead of plastic: it's stronger and recyclable, how cool is that?
In about a month everything from our Fire Cider bottles, to our promotional materials, to all of our shipping materials will be recycled, recyclable, re-usable and/or home compostable. Oh yeah! Love your Mother Earth and have a happy Labor Day weekend!
Have I mentioned lately how amazing it is to be working in partnership with the Franklin County Community Development Corporation- say that 5 times, fast! They offer guidance to anyone interested in starting a business, and they have provided us with a space to produce Fire Cider and continue to grow our small business. The CDC is currently under construction to expand their cold and dry storage, as well as their commercial kitchen. We are stoked to have more space to make more batches of Fire Cider.
Last year the CDC's loan program, headed by Alan Singer, made it possible for us to upgrade all of our equipment to food grade stainless steel. We were super happy to say goodbye to all of our plastic barrels. We found them homes as rain barrels!
Less than a year later, we approached Alan with another loan request, this time for two pieces of kitchen equipment that would save us many long hours in the kitchen, taking a lot of stress and physical labor out of making Fire Cider. The result? An awesome scrubbing tunnel that has turned a job that used to take 2 people working nonstop scrubbing organic horseradish for hours on end (just to prep that one ingredient for 2-3 batches of Fire Cider) into a 30 minute exercise. Yes, you read that correctly. Now, we can achieve even better results in just 30 minutes, and that includes setup, cleanup and break-down!
Here's a fun video of Dana and Brian trying out the scrubbing tunnel for the first time. It's a bit loud, so turn the volume down!
Here are the before and after photos. Can you tell we are super impressed with our investment?!
So fresh and so clean and ready to be turned into Fire Cider.
With our second loan we were also able to purchase a chopper for the lemons and oranges. Processing hundreds of pounds of citrus by hand is just asking for carpal tunnel, not to mention an injury waiting to happen. This chopper, with its graphic warnings, is definitely scarier than the chef's knives we've been using, and will save our hands and arms, as long as we keep them away from the blades!
All thumbs ups, not to worry, we have cut resistant gloves to protect our hands while cleaning the machine.
And here's our new chopper in action. Making batches Fire Cider just got a lot easier, which means that the three of us can safely continue making you Fire Cider for many years to come. Yup, this video is loud, too! What can I say, I'm working on my videographer skills!
We are super thankful to the CDC and their staff for supporting the growth of our small business. We truly couldn't do this without them! If you are thinking about starting a business, the CDC has you covered from the very beginning.
One of the coolest bloggers in the Berkshires has done a great write-up on Fire Cider, including a new version of the Hot Toddy recipe and a contest where you can win a Fire Cider Gift Box! It's as easy as leaving a comment on her post and you are entered to win!
Here's the beginning of Alana's post; click the link to read the rest on her blog: EatingFromTheGroundUp.com
"Oh, Fire Cider. Where to begin? Let’s start in the Fall of 2011. My friend, Gina, asked me to be a judge at Hancock Shaker Village’s Harvest Festival farmers' market, which basically involved wandering through the shortbread and local honey, trying to take myself very seriously. Sadie helped, trailing along after, whispering about this and that product over my shoulder, peering at my scribbled notes.
I found Amy, Dana and Brian at their little card table, sandwiched on either side by the cloth-wrapped soaps and homemade jams and jellies one usually finds at such a market. I was drawn right to the table for so many reasons–that there were three people under 40 I did not recognize (laugh if you will, but anyone who’s grown up in a small town will understand) and they had this relaxed and glow-y rockstar effect going for them. They were surrounded by little bottles with the most amazing label, and yes, yes, I’m a sucker for a good label. And in the air around their stall, I could pick up notes of ginger, and lemon, and… was that horseradish? Whatever it was, it all came together to create a sort of tractor beam that pulled me in. I was transfixed. Continue reading →