Elevate Difference

Divine Chocolate

Are ethics a luxury? It seems fairly obvious that if you can spend five dollars on a fair trade chocolate bar (as opposed to one dollar), you are comfortable indulging, or at the very least are attempting to indulge, with a sense of global awareness. You may even be rationalizing your questionable vices with the thought, “Hey, I'm not losing weight, but Nyamba Momofumba's daughter gets to go to school now...” It's easier to do good if you're doing well.

Divine Chocolate’s literature introduces individual producers: Ama Kade, Rita Nimako, Elvis Okufu Boansi. The company started as a vote among the farmers of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers' Cooperative in Ghana in 1997—by 1998 it had received backing from the The Body Shop, Comic Relief and Christian Aid in the UK, and has persisted for the last decade—the first fair trade chocolate company to be significantly owned by cocoa farmers. The cooperative has reinvested its profits in wells, schools, and clinics, and women hold a majority of the leadership positions. If you're going for consumption with a conscience, they appear to be a sure thing.

The chocolate is delicious. It is remarkably better than the industrially produced mass-market chocolate that has a waxy patina and chemical aftertaste. My personal preferences run to darks, particularly the fruit and nut, but their white chocolate with strawberries is buttery while not 'wussy' (to use a technical culinary term). But in the current economic climate, a good chocolate bar may not make it into as many budgets, no matter how well-intentioned the consumer. Human self-interest usually prevails. A favorite recent demonstration is the report from Harper's Index that the insecticide-doused mosquito nets shipped to Africa are being misappropriated as fishing nets, increasing individual income at the expense of community health.

Studies of Fair Trade organizations indicate that while superior to standard exploitative trade, they do not provide a panacea. Perhaps it is a matter of small, incremental changes. Then again, we could have large, abrupt changes forced upon us. Peak oil speculators would posit that without petroleum, only locally-produced hothouse cocoa would be available. Or, Matt Miller, in The Tyranny of Bad Ideas, suggests that free trade is among the tired old paradigms that must be jettisoned. My response to global financial conflagration is similar to some of my negative social ventures: I want to eat chocolate. It's nice to have the option of reaching for a narrow brick of Divine's dark… or perhaps I can track down the orange and milk chocolate, gold tinfoil hearts and spirals scattered on the wrapper design.

Written by: Erika Mikkalo, March 8th 2009

Have you seen the chocolate bars that give money to charity too? Eat chocolate, and save the tigers! http://foodstufffinds.blogspot.com/2008/11/chokolit-tiger-biting-back-bar-lemon.html

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