Eat Khaya Cookies to Support Women In South Africa? No Problem...Or Is There?

Orange Rooibos Shortbread Khaya Cookies Photo

Image via: Khaya Cookies

Recently I sampled several of the creations from the Khaya Cookie Company , a women's cookie co-op located in South Africa, and the only problem I had with them was...that I couldn't stop eating them.Khaya, meaning home, Cookies is the creation of Alicia Polak, a former Wall Street investment banker who decided to invest in cookies and improving peoples' lives instead.

Ladies Working in Khaya Factory in South Africa Photo
The cookies come in very exotic and very mouth-watering flavors, like Orange Rooibos Shortbread, Grapeseed Shortbread Cookies and Orange & Chocolate Krunchi (orange zest, Belgium choclate & honey-sweetened grains). The shortbread cookies taste so much like perfect little shortbread cookies that it's literally hard to stop eating them. The Orange and Chocolate Krunchi's taste like dough for oatmeal cookies. They will give your jaw a little bit of a workout, but they are better than eating boring old granola bars. While a little high in fat and sugar, all of the ingredients are products that you can pronounce and that you can also picture in your head and all of the ingredients are sourced locally, which helps put money back into the community.

The problem that one taste-tester here saw out was, how do you support a women's co-op on the other side of the world without also destroying the planet when it involves shipping cookies around the world? This is one question that seems to come up time and again in the debate over how to eliminate poverty without harming the environment in the process.

Women Making Cookies in the Khaya Cookie Factory South Africa Photo

Image via: Khaya Cookies

Communities in the developing world looking to make money, not get a hand-out, are working to make handicrafts, sell natural, fresh produce and now make cookies. While these endeavors help to earn a steady, respectable income for hundreds of families, including offering education, and training in life-skills, as Khaya does for all of its workers, how does one balance that with not shipping products here there and everywhere? Is there a good answer to this? The Khaya Cookies website states that for ever 1,500 boxes of cookies sold, it creates one more job in the cookie shop in South Africa. For every 500 orders placed, it creates 4 new jobs in the distribution center in Philadelphia, PA.

I asked owner Alicia Polak about the chance of carbon offsets or something else to counter the travel. Here is her response:

" We do not have an official carbon offset but we DO NOT fly the cookies. We use the earth friendly manner to ship the cookies and that is to only ship the cookies via ocean. I capture economies of scale. I fill a 20ft shipping container to THE RIM with cookies. 17,000 boxes to be exact. We actually hand pack the container which is much, more more work. However, this means we do not even use wood pallets which take up a significant amount of room. We literally "jam pack the containers". My container goes on a ship that is FILLED 7 stories high with containers. Every ounce of space is utilized. I am using far less waste than the diesel truck filled with Dole Lettuce packets going from California to New Jersey. Modern ships are a very efficient way of moving cargo. The best of the huge diesel engines they use convert over 50% of the energy in the fuel to propulsive energy fed to the propeller. The best of petrol (gasoline) car engines struggles get 12% to the wheels. The boat will leave South Africa with or without Khaya Cookies."

Right now, every time you purchase a box of Khaya cookies, you can enter to win a trip to South Africa, an Amazon kindle (full of South African literature, cooking books and wine magazines), more Khaya cookies, and other fabulous prizes. Khaya Cookies retail for . :Khaya Cookies
More on Poverty Versus Development
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