Part of the reason for trying to start Hard Bar was doing ‘the right thing’
What that ‘right thing’ is isn’t always obvious or easy. We are learning about it every day. We will of course make mistakes and get things wrong along the way. We are not perfect. We fly, we drive. One of us eats meat from time to time. But overall we hope we can have a positive impact on people’s lives, from the farmers who grow our ingredients, to the people eating our bars having adventures they love.
- We aim to create a great product in a sustainable fashion. If we don’t do that, we can’t make anything else can happen.
- We aim to be open, honest and transparent about where we are succeeding and where we could do better.
- We aim to give back to the community that nurtures us.
- We aim to try and spread any wisdom we might pick up along the way to those less fortunate than ourselves.
- We aim to become a B Corporation with a tripe bottom line. https://www.bcorporation.net/
- We care deeply about health and the environment and trying to help others make informed choices.
Every time we go out in the mountains we see how fast the glaciers are melting. The difference just in the time we’ve been in Chamonix is huge.
The impact of processed sugar is something we feel. The effect it has on children is very obvious. Our friends who are teachers and working with kids in the outdoors face a constant struggle with it. But at least these kids have had the chance to get outdoors and see something of the wild.
At least they are being encouraged to move around and explore both the landscape and themselves first hand. Sedentary lifestyles do not do anyone any favours.
The benefits of the internet and social media are legion, but not trouble free. The way the brain reacts to the instant feedback these platforms provide appears as addictive as opiates, but is only just starting to be understood.
There are large swathes of the world whose livelihoods are affected unseen by the actions of others.
Consumption for its own sake is not meaningful or fulfilling, serving only to prop up an arbitrary GDP number which seems to have distracted from the humanity of being human.
All of this seems pretty grandiose for two guys peddling ‘energy’ bars huh. In some ways of course it is. But is also informs the small choices we make and direction we are travelling in.
Physical and mental health, moving around and being outdoors are all interlinked. If there is no more outdoors to play in, humanity is the poorer for it. If people don’t know what the outdoors is, why would they be interested in protecting it?
Minimise waste, minimise packaging, maximise taste, maximise nutritional value.
As a starting point, we are very excited and proud to be working with some producers and suppliers that are as concerned as we are about doing the right thing. All our ingredients are organic. As many as possible are fair trade.
As a small start-up business dealing in low volumes, it is not been possible to get detailed information from our suppliers about exactly where our products are coming from.
The ones we know about are very exciting to us.
Apples & Almonds
Mountain fruits is one such company. https://www.mfc-fairtrade.com/
We buy our apples and almonds from them in the Hunza Valley in the disputed Gilgit region of Northern Pakistan. They work with a co-operative of farmers called the Mountain Fruits Farmers Association. This is a network of over 6000 farmers, organised into over 110 growing groups, whose land is irrigated by the glacial melt of the Karakorum and Himalayan mountains.
As well as pre-financing and making Fairtrade purchases from farmers, Mountain Fruits (MF) also train farmers in best farming and post harvest practice. MF also run 2 factories where they grade and further process the dried fruits and nuts.
Over the years, Fairtrade premiums have been spent by the Farmers Association on books for community schools, a new playground, water tanks, a generator, sewing machines, school fees for the poorest students and irrigation upgrades.
Since 2010, the Sainsburys Fair Development Fund administered by Comic Relief has helped Mountain Fruits construct a new nut processing factory, to distribute improved almond seedlings to farmer members, and to conduct farmer training workshops to improve harvest yields.
When looking to develop new recipes in the future, working with the produce of Mountain Fruits is something that we are aiming to do.
Fairtrade organic cashews come to us from Gebana Afrique in Burkina Faso, West Africa, via our supplier in the UK. These are purchased from seventeen different rural co-operatives and associations in the south of the country.
As well as supplying cashews, Gebana Afrrique also produce and process mangoes, something which doesn’t feature in our recipes at the moment.
The vast majority of people working on the mangoes and cashews are women.
Mango and cashews brings three fold benefit to the cooperatives.
The fresh fruit farmers benefit from sales, the women doing the processing gain from paid employment. Then in addition, there is the Fairtrade social premium which benefits the whole community.
Adult literacy, new water sources, bicycles and cereal banks are just some examples of what the social premium has been spent on by co-operatives.
Since 2009, Comic Relief have funded a project under their Trade Programme to develop Biogas as an energy source for the Mango drying Cooperatives, to improve the overall efficiency of mango drying technology, to tackle mango pests, and to reduce the use of wood as fuel in cashew processing.
Our supply partners in the UK are currently working on a cashew project – courtesy of funding from Comic Relief. The project is helping new producer groups to begin cashew processing for the very first time – the cashew processing facility will also include the waste-to-energy heat generation and associated drying systems designed by the field team.
The team is also helping the group to develop very simple, low-cost technology to enable them to produce their own charcoal using excess cashew shell waste. This will reduce the use of firewood being used, and also enable the women to improve their finances by selling excess charcoal to generate additional income.
The main objective of the project the field team is working on is actually to increase the yield of cashews generally – and since pollination has such big impacts on yield, they are also introducing training on bee-keeping. The honey is an added bonus that the women from the cooperatives can sell, consume or both.
These come to us from Tunisia, via Gebana BV, a separate branch of the organisation who supply our cashews, but about whom we know less at the moment.
We are trying to work with producers and organisations like these as much as possible, and learn more about where the rest of our ingredients come from.