The Holidays are supposed to be a time of family gatherings, fire-roasting chestnuts and long, lazy weekends. But the Corporatocracy has turned the humble season into a fight-to-the-death credit card maxing out feeding frenzy of—let's face it—a lot of useless junk (not you, Siri). And if the Occupy Movement has inspired us with any takeaway, it might just be that there are worthy options outside of the Wall Street-curated displays at Wal-mart. In fact, the very best gift you can give this season might even disappear before Christmas dinner.
Allison Rivers Samson revolutionized vegan baking and confections with organic and Fair-Trade ingredients that make even the die-hard milk chocolate lovers swoon. A vegan for more than 15 years (vegetarian 22!), Allison was also drawn to high quality ingredients, noticing the difference in taste and her health. Her passion grew into Allison's Gourmet—a thriving boutique bakery now in its 15th year with a focus on gifts like vegan truffles and caramels, and a unique membership program that provides members with healthy, sweet treats delivered to their door every month. And, she says, food is actually the ultimate holiday gift, especially as we face global warming, diminishing resources and financial instability. "Giving the gift of food means nothing ends up in a landfill [Allison's Gourmet packaging is recycled and recyclable], and nothing is forgotten or castaway soon after the holidays end," says Samson. "High quality food teaches us to appreciate quality in all aspects of our lives. It's a portal into a very intimate connection with the world."
A June 2011 study conducted by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital found that the quality of food consumed actually affected weight gain more than quantity. Allison's Gourmet ascribes to the quality creed and all ingredients are recognizable—most of them are probably in your kitchen right now.
Allison's Gourmet has earned praises from celebs including Alicia Silverstone and Emily Deschanel, New York Times best selling author Rory Freedman and PETA founder, Ingrid Newkirk for her vegan baked goods and Veganize It! recipe column in Veg News Magazine, where she does just as the name suggests—turns any beloved comfort food into a healthy and delicious vegan creation. "When we eat high-quality food, it's like having a quality conversation, there's more intimacy and more connection," says Samson. "When there's something of quality, it draws your attention. "A client once told me that as she started to eat one of my cookies in her typical less-than-conscious fashion, they instead demanded to be eaten while she sat down and savored each bite...'I felt so satisfied and fulfilled when I was done; it was an experience,' she said. We all deserve that."
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Image: Allison's Gourmet