2021 Benefit Report
Our mission is to IMPROVE the lives of spice farmers by directly sourcing from small, sustainable farms and INSPIRE culinary creativity by crafting blends that celebrate unique flavors from around the world. We value organic, fair trade ingredients, supporting women, and enriching our local community — and making sure we ALL have the chance to eat well. Learn more here.
Curio Spice Co. is a Certified B Corporation®. B Corps™ are for-profit companies that use the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
This little spice biz is now over 6 years old! We re-opened our Cambridge brick-and-mortar spice shop in May, 2021 after closing down in-person shopping for 10 months due to the pandemic (though we still ran a bustling pick up system - thank you local folks!). We grew our e-commerce program due to the huge increase in home cooking during the pandemic, and we expanded our brand reach through more wholesale accounts, including many home grocery delivery services such as Walden Meat and Crescent Ridge Dairy.
Product highlights included our new Signature Blend, Bonga Spice, based on a newly secured direct sourcing relationship in the southwest region of Ethiopia, called Bonga. This green, piquant blend celebrates the verdant countryside of Bonga, which is most famous for coffee production but is now home to a growing network of smallholder, women-run spice farms. This relationship was hard-earned and we're grateful to be able to spread the spice joy.
In October of 2021 we moved into a new production facility in Winchester, MA where we now produce our spice blends and run our fulfillment center. We continue to compost, use recycled goods and source most of our packaging from U.S. companies.
Over the past two years we have maintained our new ‘advocacy’ page to help our customers and community learn more about how Curio is engaging with systemic racism:
International Sourcing & Direct Trade
In 2021, Curio Spice expanded its responsible sourcing virtually by adding new direct trade accounts with farms in Morocco, Ethiopia, Turkey and more. Similar to 2020, this past year was a challenging year, but we still managed to engage with our mission and give back to our community to help those in need.
Above: women at the rose co-operative in Morocco. We source culinary rose buds and rose petals directly from Morocco now. Below, korerima (Ethiopian black cardamom) drying in Bonga, Ethiopia.
We continued to source locally and increased our order volume from many New England farms and producers. As a benefit to our team we ran a retreat in July and visited one of our local farms in Rhode Island, where we met a few of the immigrant farmers growing spices for Curio.
A few of our local farmers and producers that we continue to support:
- Maine Sea Salt (Maine)
- Sanctuary Herbs of Providence (Rhode Island)
- Old Friend’s Farm (Massachusetts)
- Mycoterra Farm (Massachusetts)
- Zackwood’s Farm (Vermont)
- Vitamin Sea (Maine)
- Wilson Farm (Vermont)
Our focus in 2021 was on supporting our community through the pandemic as groups across multiple industries faced continued hardship, especially in the non-profit sector. We were lucky to have the financial flexibility to support these causes that matter to our mission.
See the summary below of our donations and how we helped support our mission:
Curio's Charitable Giving
Curio donated over $14,500 to non-profits this year. These past two years in particular, during the pandemic, we believe that putting an emphasis on supporting causes related to the empowerment of women, both internationally and locally, is crucial for keeping up progress towards equality. As stated in Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development goals "Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. ...The coronavirus outbreak exacerbates existing inequalities for women and girls across every sphere – from health and the economy, to security and social protection. "
Here are a few highlights:
- Continued support of YW Boston "Eliminating Racism - Empowering Women" through our "Jubilee Cause Box" as part of our committment to support and empower women and fight for equality. $1625 donated.
- New support of Women for Afghan Women in response to the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. We created a new product, Saffron Sugar, and sent 100% of proceeds from four months of sales to this organization. $7993 donated (see below for more details).
- Continued support of Cambridge Women's Center through our 'Root for Women' cause box, as part of our commitment to supporting our local community and women. $1300 donated.
- Boston Public Library Spice Collective - a project to bring spices to local food pantries, $300 in spice goods donated
Other organizations we donated money, time and goods to:
Cambridge-Ellis School (local non-profit school)
Cambridge Montessori (local non-profit school)
Project Restore Us (Boston based food non-profit)
Waltham Fields Community Farm (local MA non-profit farm)
Respond Inc. (Local Domestic Violence help group, Somerville, MA)
Chickadee Spice (Local org that donates spices/oils to food pantries)
Khalsa Aid (donated during Covid peak in India)
Cambridge Continuing Education (local non-profit education center)
Giving Joy Micro grants (local non-profit supporting international women entrepreneurs)
BAGLY (The Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth)
Stop AAPI Hate (Supporting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the rise of racism brought about by pandemic)
Food for Free (Local food security non-profit)
Sierra Club (Environmental org)
WGBH (Local Radio)
More on our product-related charitable giving:
After the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban we created a new product “Saffron Sugar” made with Afghan saffron from our friends at Rumi Spice, to support Afghan Women and Girls. All proceeds from the sales of saffron sugar went directly to Women for Afghan Women. We will continue to sell this product and donate to this organization.
We continued our gift box series to raise money for non-profits related to causes we care about. The gift sets are as follows:
CAUSE BOX: Jubilee Gift Set ~ Supports YW Boston. YW Boston is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Founded in 1866 as the first YWCA in the United States, YW Boston has been a leader in advancing social justice for over 150 years. Today, we are committed to creating more inclusive and equitable spaces within the City of Boston and beyond. Through our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work, events, and girls leadership program, the F.Y.R.E. Initiative, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, and behaviors to sustain lasting change.
CAUSE BOX: Root for Women ~ Supports women owned business and the Camrbridge Women's Center.
CAUSE BOX: Double Awesome Chinese Food ~ This pandemic has impacted everyone in the food world, but especially vulnerable families and small restaurants. Irene Li, founder of Mei Mei Restaurant in Boston helped start Project Restore Us to bring food to immigrant families in the Boston area and support small restaurants. Enjoy cooking from Double Awesome while also contributing to the cause! We've provided some of the essential spices you'll need to cook your way through this book, including Irene and Claire's popular collab blend 'Mala Salt.'
CAUSE BOX: My Shanghai / Stop AAPI Hate
Curio is proud to partner with Betty Liu, author of My Shanghai to bring you this gift set supporting Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative of the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University.
Stop AAPI Hate was created in response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and takes a 5-pronged approach to effectively address anti-Asian racism, including aggregating incident reporting, providing resources, and advocating for human & civil rights policies. Read more here.
From Curio Team on Sustainability at Home:
- Miranda: “Make one day a week leftover day! Minimize food waste by transforming leftovers, using them up.”
- Sam: “I’ve tried using up odds and ends with the supercook.com - enter what you have and it will find a recipe!”
- Caitlin: “Honestly, just freeze everything. Old fruit & veg for smoothies, bread to extend its life..”
- Sarah F: “I cut down on paper towels by using tea towels, especially fellow employee Ityng’s flour sack ones!”
- Josh: “Single-use plastic is the enemy! I bring cotton mesh bags to the grocery store, and waxed canvas instead of plastic wrap.”
- Claire: “Put a lid on it. No really - don’t forget to use a pot lid when boiling water to cook! Saves energy.”