When my husband and I visited Seattle, I felt it was my duty as an American – no, my duty as a Citizen of the World – to taste every single chocolate bar at Theo Chocolate’s Fremont store. It’s easy. Samples are laid out on every surface. Chai Tea Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Mint, Dark Chocolate Fig, Fennel & Almond, and Dark Chocolate Coffee are only some of the many on offer.
What can I say, it’s chocolate that inspires me to champion a cause, to melt down everything wrong with capitalism, pour it into a new mold, and mix it with toffee bits. Wait, what? Sorry, got distracted by my chocolate bar again. Anyways, if you’re reading Wanderlust and Lipstick, you probably are well aware of Fair Trade, and nasty statistics like this one:
More than 40% of the world’s cocoa comes from the Cote d’Ivoire. According to the US Department of State, more than 109,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry work under “the worst forms of child labor,” and that 10,000 of them are actual slaves and victims of human trafficking.
You might say, well, then don’t buy chocolate from the Cote d’Ivoire. The problem is the lack of transparency in the supply chain. Beans from multiple sources are blended together before being processed in Europe, and then are shipped to manufacturers in the U.S.
Only 15 companies in the United States make chocolate all the way from the cocoa bean to the final product.
Theo Chocolate is the only organic, Fair Trade certified company in the U.S. that makes its chocolate all the way from dried bean to packaged bar. Part of the Fair Trade deal is to pay workers a living wage and to ensure their families have access to education, but Theo also educates the farmers on how to do their jobs better – which is unusual in the cocoa farming industry.
Another cool thing about Theo: Even though the chocolate travels from the equator all the way to Fremont, the company sources everything else as locally as possible, down to the printer who prints their labels, and uses green energy sources to power the factory.
Owner Joseph Whinney acknowledges that people will buy something once because it’s Fair Trade, but to keep people coming back again and again, the chocolate has to not only do good, but be good. Real good. And this chocolate is.
What’s your favorite way to eat well and do good?
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