By Joanne Camas
Need an excuse to get a jump on your holiday shopping today? We’ve got eight. Behold, the coolest kitchen gadgets and exotic ingredients perfect for the food-obsessed on your list.
Back to the Roots Water Garden
Fresh produce can’t get more local than what’s grown in your kitchen. Add water and a fish to the simple Back to the Roots Water Garden ($99.99) aquaponics ecosystem, a self-cleaning fish tank that grows organic sprouts and herbs: The fish feed the plants and the plants clean the water. Just pop the kit’s seeds on top, then let nature do its thing. In days, sprouting wheatgrass and watercress will be ready to harvest for homegrown smoothies and salads.
Even an absent-minded kitchen gardener will enjoy fresh herbs with the clever Eleplanter ($35). Add water via the funnel-like trunk to fill the hidden reservoir–it stores enough for a week, so there’s no need to remember to water. The porcelain planter is perfect for growing basil or other fragrant herbs, and the sleek design adds a whimsical touch to a windowsill.
Your food is only as tasty as the ingredients you use, right down to the freshness of your spices. Frontier Co-op stakes its reputation on high-quality organic, GMO-free herbs and spices (prices vary). The member-owned business sources from growers committed to quality, sustainability and ethical trade, and then gives back to help improve life in those rural communities in India and other spice-growing nations by building dental clinics and schools. If you give, they can give!
Artisan Bamboo Salt Sampler
The salt lover’s dream stocking-stuffer, the Artisan Bamboo Salt Sampler ($124.95) includes—count ‘em—24 cork-topped square glass jars filled with a variety of rare salts displayed in a classic bamboo case. Gems like Bolivian Rose, Kala Namak Indian Black Salt, Trapani Sicilian Sea Salt, and Salish Alderwood Smoked Salt will ensure that no bowl of popcorn will ever be the same.
The Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit
We’re crazy for fermented foods, especially for their probiotic effects, and this DIY kit makes pickling a brine-y snap. The Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit ($55) demystifies homemade sauerkraut and kimchi, and teaches home cooks how to customize seasonings and veggies to their hearts’ content.
Foraging & Feasting Calendar
Herbalist Dina Falconi and botanical artist Wendy Hollender collaborated on the gorgeous Foraging & Feasting Calendar ($16.95), an artful love letter to locally gathered wild plants. The kitchen-worthy calendar includes plant-based recipes to complement the detailed descriptions and intricate illustrations.
Food First Tours
You may need to get in on this one: Food First’s Food Sovereignty Tours travel to Cuba, the Basque Country, Piedmont, Italy, and southeast Asia, where local hosts give an on-the-ground overview of the country’s history, culture, ecology and agriculture. On each trip, travelers meet farmers and activists working to transform the global food system from the grassroots level through food sovereignty and community self-sufficiency. Expect to eat the best each region has to offer. (Call or email to get prices.)
Monbento MB Square Bento
Brown-bagging commuters will appreciate an upgrade to the Monbento MB Square Bento Box ($32). For a light lunch, use one level; go double-decker for a heartier meal. The BPA-free container is airtight, so there are no worries about leaks, and it’s also dishwasher-, freezer- and microwave-safe to make food prep and clean-up a breeze.