Spices

What is Ceylon Cinnamon?

Ceylon Cinnamon
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Cinnamon is one of the most popular and commonly used spices in the world. And we aren't surprised, considering the bounty of health benefits and delicious flavour this spice boasts! 

There are many benefits to be derived from cinnamon: it acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and is also known to lower lipids, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and fight against neurological disorders. In addition, the sweet and spicy flavour pairs well with a variety of dishes and drinks. But what’s the difference between the varieties of cinnamon and, more specifically, what is Ceylon Cinnamon?

Not all cinnamons are created equal.

Ceylon Cinnamon, also referred to as 'True Cinnamon', is renowned for its health benefits, including low levels of coumarin, and its delicate flavour. However, the majority of the cinnamons in the market today are Cassia and Saigon varieties. These varieties are grown in China and Vietnam and contain significantly less health benefits than the Ceylon variety; they have a thicker bark, higher levels of coumarin, and a vastly different flavour.  

Watch a two-minute CBC video on differences in cinnamon here.

Ceylon Cinnamon

Where is our cinnamon from?

Our Ceylon cinnamon is from small-scale farmers in Sri Lanka. We partner with farmers who organically grow 'True Cinnamon', harvest it when it is optimally fresh, and ship it directly to Level Ground. 

Harvesting Ceylon Cinnamon

The Fair Trade impact of purchasing this cinnamon is capacity building in Sri Lanka. Farmers are able to sustainably grow more spices, receiving better prices for their high quality cinnamon! 

Sri Lankan Farmer
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Ceylon Cinnamon leaves

Meet Menaka.

Meet Menaka, a seasonal worker for Ethical Inspirations, our spice partner in Sri Lanka. 

 

Menaka is responsible for leading the others in cleaning, shrink sleeving, labelling and packaging the spice bottles.

She is a woman who was marginalized in the local community. She was born with multiple disabilities. Her mother sent her to school, but as she grew, she struggled to find employment. Her physical limitations restricted her from finding livelihood employment. 

Menaka was born with only seven fingers on both her hands; and only one foot. She has to depend on an artificial foot to move. Her limitations have made her determined to stand up in life as an independent woman. 

Menaka is married to Weerasinghe, a young man plagued by polio. Weerasinghe drives a trishaw that provides an income for the family. Weerasinghe ensures that his wife gets to work on time and picks her up after work. Menaka has the opportunity for dignified work and to make an income for her family.

Menaka and her husband, Weerasinghe.

Menaka and her husband, Weerasinghe.

Menaka poses with freshly labelled spices.

Menaka poses with freshly labelled spices.

SPICES & The Quest for the Perfect Chai

After weeks of being out of stock, we finally received our shipment of spices from Sri Lanka! The spices also got a small makeover, sporting brand new coloured labels and farmer faces. The faces on each bottle are of a real farmer in Sri Lanka whom we met on our travels. 

We're often asked how we got into spices. Like most of our products, we were led to it through a relationship.


In 2012, Stacey (co-owner) and Paul W (Grocery Sales Rep) headed to Washington State as part of the Fair Trade Federation annual conference. They were in search of a spice partner to source ingredients for our Chai blend. 

It was there we met a man named Moddy, who was starting a Fair Trade Organization called Ethical Inspirations. He had a network of spice farmers, but no North American partners to buy the spices ... yet. 

Moddy, a Fair Trade enthusiast with an innate sense for business, quickly sent us samples. The flavours were beyond anything our taste buds had ever encountered; they were profound. While we had been busy developing recipes with grocery store spices, we had to go back to the drawing board. These spices were far too beautiful to simply substitute; too powerful, really.  After some careful tinkering, the perfect chai blend was created.

Our chai blend quickly became a hit and we realized we couldn't keep these spices to ourselves. We had to allow the spices to have their own stage. From there, a new line of bottled spices was born! 

Our spice partner, Moddy, pictured in Sri Lanka.

Our spice partner, Moddy, pictured in Sri Lanka.

Loose leaf chai, blended with fresh spices from Sri Lanka

Loose leaf chai, blended with fresh spices from Sri Lanka

Meet Dissanayake.

The minimum farm-gate price has assured us of real value for our hard work. We now have some extra money to invest in our dwellings and my family.
— Dissanayake

Dissanayake and his family grow rice and spices on an 1.25 acre plot of land in  Alutgama, Yatawatte, Sri Lanka. 

His biggest challenge? "The adverse weather. We do not have irrigation channels and have to depend on the rain and ground water. During the dry season, the ground water resources tend to dry-up and then we have to abandon our farming".

Through the work of Ethical Inspirations, Dissanayake was able to sell his spices at a fair price.

Peppercorns ... coming soon!

Peppercorns ... coming soon!

Dissanayake in his backyard spice garden.

Dissanayake in his backyard spice garden.

Fresh Spices from Sri Lanka

Flying into Colombo, I started to wonder, what does a spice farm look like?
Turns out, these spice farms looking nothing like what you might picture as a garden or a farm... it's more like jungle where the spices hide.
We hiked through these tiny farms and the spices were hard to spot. Moddy of Ethical Inspirations and the Coop Agronomist opened our eyes to the surrounding bounty by urging us to taste leaves and open strange looking seed pods to find the most amazing smells and flavours... like scratch 'n sniff. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg & pepper...sensory overload!

In the year since that jungle adventure, the coop of spice farmers has worked hard to grow, process and bottle the spices for us. Now they are available to you! Ceylon Cinnamon (the real stuff), Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves, Tumeric, Cardamon, White & Black Peppercorns. All small-scale grown on biodynamic farms, traded fairly and directly and so fresh it will knock your socks off.

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