Ethical Orange-Cardamom Pistachio Muffins

1 Mar

You’re probably wondering what makes a muffin ethical. Does it have high standards and did it promise to not to lie to you? Does it refrain from making offensive jokes and refuse to become power hunger? Sadly (as this would be the best muffin EVER), this is not the case. The way I define ethical in this recipe lies in the production of the ingredients that were used to make it.

ethical muffin??

I am currently taking a class called “Food Justice & Society” that outlines the struggles and intricacies of the American food system. This week, my partner Kay (who helped me make these muffins) and I had to do a presentation based on three articles that detailed the abuses of migrant farm laborers.

We often don’t take the cost of human labor into account when thinking about where our food comes from. We see the documentaries about the horrifying animal abuses and we hear about the intense environmental impacts, but rarely do we consider those who harvest the food we consume. The reality is the migrant workers are essentially treated as slaves. This is something I’m not proud to say happens frequently in Florida’s citrus groves. These migrant workers, who are most of the time illegal immigrants, are subjugated to racial profiling, physical abuse, pesticide poisoning, wage abuse, sexual harassment, decrepit housing, and a range of other issues. They do not speak up at the risk of deportation.   One of the articles posed this profound question “does it matter if a tomato is local or organic if it was harvested by slave labor?” I won’t delve into it, but it’s something to consider the next time you go to the grocery store.

With these muffins, we made an attempt to use as many ingredients as possible that were ethically produced. The egg and orange were purchased directly from a farmer at our local farmers market. The spices and vanilla bean were Frontier brand which is a company that has a mission to treat workers fairly. They were purchased  from Citizen’s Co-Op, Gainesville’s community owned grocery store. The whole wheat flour was King Arthur which is a certified B-Corporation with a mission for sustainability and fair employee treatment. In addition, the pistachios used were from the Greenwise section in Publix.

On the baking end, I really enjoyed making these muffins. Cardamom is a unique spice to add to baked goods that I’ve been playing with lately (see: Once in a Blue Moon Cookies). The pistachios were a complete afterthought from Kay, but complimented the orange and spice with a subtle and pleasant buttery-salty taste. My only complaint was that the whole wheat flour made the texture a bit gummy. I would  do a mix of all-purpose and wheat next time. Unfortunately,  the only brand of all-purpose I currently have is ConAgra which would definitely discount all ethics involved in this muffin. I will be baking these again and probably full size because the thing about mini muffins is they’re so small you think it’s acceptable to eat 10…

I hope you take something good away from this article. Even if you don’t change your buying habits, at least maybe you have gained a tidbit of awareness for the injustices faced by the people who bring the food to your table. I know that large corporations, especially in agriculture, are often viewed as  faceless industrialized giants. However, at the bottom of it all, these are real people in the fields. They deserve to be treated better.

Orange-Cardamom Pistachio Muffins
Adapted From: DYLN 
Juice of 1 medium orange
Grated zest of 1 medium orange
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pistachios, crushed

-In a small bowl, combine the juice, zest, cinnamon and cardamom, and allow to sit for 15 minutes
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a muffin tin with cooking spray or wrappers (either mini or regular sized)
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
-In another medium bowl whisk together the egg, oil, yogurt, vanilla, and then add the juice, zest and spice mixture.
-Combine the wet and dry mixtures, mixing as little as possible to get them combined uniformly.
-Gently fold in pistachios
-Divide evenly in the muffin tin and bake for approximately 15 minutes for regular sized and 8 minutes for mini
-Check to make sure toothpick comes out clean, let cool


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