Serving Fair Trade and Sustainability in Every Bite

Bittersweet Kitchen

3. Good Health and Well-Being 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Bittersweet Kitchen aims to not only positively impact their surrounding town of Media, PA, USA through wholesome, nourishing food, but their supply chain across the world. They aim to better the economy by continuing to source Fair Trade products and advance their sustainability efforts.

Authors

Katelyn O'Neil

Katelyn O'Neil

Matthew Gallagher

Matthew Gallagher

Victoria Mouttet

Victoria Mouttet

Jessica Olszyk

Jessica Olszyk

School

Saint Joseph's University

Saint Joseph's University

Professor

David Steingard

David Steingard

Innovation

Bittersweet Kitchen is a local restaurant located in Media, PA, USA. The restaurant offers an array of breakfast and lunch items, and a variety of sweet gluten-free baked goods. Bittersweet Kitchen was started in 2015 by Michelle and Jeremy West.

Michelle expressed the restaurant's commitment to using Fair Trade Products. As being a restaurant involved with Fair Trade, Bittersweet Kitchen finds it extremely important to educate the local Media community and also make sure that the products they use are not being produced with child or slave labor. For example, they use Fair Trade Chocolate and Cocoa, Bananas, and Singing Dog Vanilla in their baking and food. Michelle also pointed out the restaurant’s enormous investment in Philly Fair Trade Roasters.

For their focus on sustainability, Bittersweet Kitchen use eco-friendly “to-go” containers and cups. The straws used in the restaurant are cornstarch. They encourage their customers, ordering takeout, to not use plastic utensils. They also try to minimize usage of plastics especially by not offering plastic bags with each “to-go” meal. There are no styrofoam cups for drinks, rather everything served is on glass or dishware. The materials used in the restaurant for decoration are repurposed or thrifted. For example, Michelle and Jeremy purchased used chairs and repurposed them. They used salvaged barn wood to make their tables and made light fixtures from salvaged pipe.

We believe the two SDG's that best suit Bittersweet Kitchen would include #3 Good Health and Well-Being and #12 Responsible Consumption and Production. Bittersweet Kitchen dedicates themselves to the health and well-being of both their employees and customers through ensuring everyone is surrounded by, and eats, good and sustainable products. They also ensure responsible consumption and production through their commitment to sustainable products such as the cornstarch straws or repurposed furniture.

Serving Fair Trade and Sustainability in Every Bite

Inspiration

Michelle and Jeremy met each other working in the restaurant industry, where Michelle was a server and Jeremy was a pastry chef. Michelle, in our interview, told us that she had started her career as a teacher and has a masters degree in education from George Washington University. When they were expecting their third child, they together decided to open a restaurant.

"Before we opened we made a commitment to using fair trade products as much as possible. It is important to us because we don't believe in making money off the backs of child labor and slave labor," she explained. "We use fair trade chocolate, cocoa and vanilla in our baking and serve fair trade coffee. We think it is very important that we become ambassadors for fair trade by serving these products and letting people know about it."

This focus on Fair Trade and Sustainable products does come with a hefty cost incurred by the restaurant. "From the beginning we made the commitment that [these costs] would be part of our cost of doing business. Since it was part of our model before we started, we were never making that profit, its just always been part of our expense." Michelle said she believes other businesses should adopt the same practices in order to better the environment as a whole.

Overall impact

By committing themselves to SDG's #3 Good Health and Well-Being and #12 Responsible Consumption and Production, Bittersweet Kitchen makes many impacts, both big and small. Below are a list of the 5 major impacts of fair trade products.

The following are 5 major impacts of sourcing fair trade products.

  1. Fair trade products allow work for the world's poor.
  2. There is a high level of transparency as certified fair trade products ensure equitable trade practices.
  3. Workers are free of child and slave labor while simultaneously given sustainable wages.
  4. Fair trade products are free of chemicals and GMO's, and oftentimes organic.
  5. Fair trade license fees generate funds to be used for other social, environmental and economic projects.

In addition to those impacts, by serving sustainable to go products, Bittersweet Kitchen improves their green footprint by ensuring there is minimal plastic and styrofoam in the landfills.

Business benefit

There are quite a few ways in which these sustainable practices can benefit Bittersweet Kitchen. Research shows customers are willing to pay more to support environmentally sustainable business practices. People also are more likely to go out of their way for a company who is known to benefit the triple bottom line as opposed to one who does not. Also, the process of recruiting and hiring new employees can become easier because potential employees want to work for socially responsible businesses who will truly value and care for them.

Social and environmental benefit

There are many ways in which Bittersweet Kitchen's Fair Trade and sustainability efforts benefit society and the environment. As being a restaurant involved with Fair Trade, Bittersweet Kitchen finds it extremely important to educate the local Media, PA, USA community and also make sure that the products they use are not being grown through child or slave labor. For example, they use Fair Trade Chocolate and Cocoa, Bananas, and Singing Dog Vanilla in their baking and food.

For their focus on sustainability, Bittersweet Kitchen use eco-friendly “to-go” containers and cups. The straws used in the restaurant are cornstarch. They encourage their customers ordering takeout to not use plastic utensils and try to minimize usage of plastics especially by not offering plastic bags with each “to-go” meal. There are no styrofoam cups for drinks, rather everything served is on glass or dishware. The materials used in the restaurant for decoration are repurposed or thrifted. For example, Michelle and Jeremy purchased used chairs and repurposed them. They used salvaged barn wood to make their tables and made light fixtures from salvaged pipe.

Within the Media Community, Bittersweet Kitchen is heavily involved in a variety of programs and charities. The local school districts are a huge driver of word of mouth advertisements and giving back to the community from the restaurant. In addition, the restaurant works with the following programs:

  • Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) - Media Safehouse that provides financial and legal support to those individuals escaping violent partnerships. Collection site and fundraisers
  • Hias PA - Support Refugee Programs
  • La Puerta Abierta - Free Counseling Programs for Immigrant youth

Interview

Michelle West, Owner

Photo of interviewee

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Bittersweet Kitchen

Bittersweet Kitchen

Media, PA, US

Business Website: https://www.eatatbittersweet.com

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Bittersweet Kitchen uses only the freshest ingredients to prepare its creative comfort food and small-batch baked goods. Bittersweet Kitchen happily provides Fair Trade products. Bittersweet resides in Media, PA, USA, the first fair trade town.