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Ethically Sourced Spices

Slofoodgroup Team November 23, 2022

Anyone who spends any time in the kitchen uses spices but sadly, most people aren’t aware of the importance of ensuring their spices have been ethically sourced. Purchases of sustainable meats, dairy, chocolates, coffees, and other products that have been grown, harvested, and procured via ethical practices has become more common in recent history, but spices are lagging behind (and for no good reason).

Why It’s Important to Ensure Spices are Ethically Sourced

There are a whole slew of reasons why it is important to be conscientious of where and how your spices have been sourced. Let’s take a look at what we believe to be the top three. 

Buying spices that were procured ethically protects farmers. 

The vast majority of the ingredients you use to season your dishes come from small farmers across the globe. Like all farms, there is a large risk vs reward, and the risk quite often outweighs the reward. Their livelihood is subject to weather conditions, plant infestations, theft, changes in supply and demand, and more. 

It seems as though the ingredients that fetch a top dollar would create optimal market conditions for these farmers, but that is often not the case. The consumer’s willingness to pay has been known to create underground markets for many spices. In these instances, the prices are incredibly low because they have been obtained illegally, oftentimes via armed robberies. 

Theft isn’t always the reasoning for low prices, however. The price you pay is reflective of many varying factors but when they are low and theft wasn’t involved, it typically means fair prices haven’t been paid and spices are obtained for less than they are worth, it is likely that the farmers are not making a living wage.

A domino effect often ensues. When farmers are treated unfairly, it doesn’t make that particular career path seem very enticing and fewer farmers will be willing to cultivate a particular crop. So purchasing spices at fair prices will ensure the longevity of the spice trade for years to come.

Ethically sourced spices are typically higher quality.

Spices purchased at low or unfair price points are rarely put up against the same quality standards as their sustainably and ethically sourced counterparts. Upticks in theft often lead to harvesting before a crop has reached prime harvesting conditions, which typically means less intense or tainted flavors. 

Furthermore, low-priced commercial products will often contain pesticide residue, mycotoxins, and an assortment of unhealthy heavy metals if spices are not regulated or they may have been genetically modified to increase production and offset the low prices. Personally, we just think that’s very unappetizing. 

These are just a couple of reasons why we only carry ethically-sourced, non-GMO spices. So next time you are looking for a flavorful spice to uplift your recipes, make sure you keep the farmers in mind and only purchase those that have been ethically sourced!


Want to learn more about the ingredients that add spice to your life and cuisine? Check out these articles.