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deliberateLIFE engages today's globally-conscious citizen in building a better tomorrow. We believe choices matter – so we vet ideas, products and organizations to make it easier for today's busy professionals to live well and do good.

 

 

 

 

 

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Inside Issue 2

Fay Johnson

In issue no. 2, we focused on love, conflict, art, war, and social justice.  These themes weave together well as we looked at valentines day chocolate (which often includes forced child labor in the supply chain), date ideas intended to encourage deeper interpersonal connection, and how artists and designers are using their skills to help address conflict, war, and injustice.

As you know, at deliberateLIFE we focus on identifying the choices people can make, that make a difference. So as we approached Valentines Day, a day that American’s purchase around 58 million pounds (over $345 million USD) of chocolate, finding some ‘guilt-free’ options for consumers, seemed like a good idea. So, we did some research. Below is a quick excerpt from our article on chocolate.

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Theobroma cacao, the unprocessed pod, that when processed is turned into cocoa, is indigenous to the Amazon Basin and the tropical areas of South and Central America. Cacao was first cultivated over 2000 years ago. Although cacao used to be a hidden gem of the Mayan empire, today 75% of the cacao beans are harvested in the tropics of West Africa. According to the International Cocoa Organization, the Ivory Coast alone produces more than 35% of the world's cacao. Indonesia and Central America are also large cacao producers. Learn more about the multi-step process from pod to chocolate here.

Although chocolate has a long history of notoriety, there is a bitter side to its ‘sweet’ story. Just as slavery is known to exist in the production of cotton, steel, oriental rugs, diamonds and silk, cocoa production also lends itself to exploitative labor. Child labor and bonded slaves are often used in the harvesting of the cacao pods. According to a US government-funded study, over 1.8 million children work in West Africa’s cacao industry. Many of these children are subject to unsafe working conditions. This unsavory reality has stirred activists and businesses alike to seek solutions....                

Consumers who wish to enjoy guilt-free treats now have many options available to them. Possibly the easiest way to ensure that your chocolate is ethically produced is to buy Fair Trade certified products. The Fair Trade certified label guarantees that the farmers who were involved in growing the raw materials in your chocolate receive fair prices for their crops. It also ensures that slave labor and child labor were not used during the production cycle. You can check out Fair Trade USA’s website here for a list of chocolate manufacturers. It is important to note, however, that there are companies making ethically sourced produces that, for financial reasons, choose to forgo the Fair Trade certification process. These companies may choose to develop relationships directly with farmers, monitor their own supply chain and label their products ‘direct trade’ or ‘ethically’ made. The benefit of direct trade, some argue, is that producers can pay higher prices to farmers due to the savings incurred by not going through the certification process.

While we at deliberateLIFE are strongly in favor of producers receiving the best possible price, we do encourage supporting companies that undergo external evaluation of their supply chain to maintain transparency. Note: Organic products are definitely better for the environment and for one’s health, but it’s important to note that ‘organic’ is not synonymous with ‘slave-free’.

Editor-in-Chief, Fay Johnson, and photographer Brandon Dube, working on product stills for the chocolate article. Kona, Hawaii.

Editor-in-Chief, Fay Johnson, and photographer Brandon Dube, working on product stills for the chocolate article. Kona, Hawaii.

When buying chocolate, there are a few things to keep in mind: First, look at the ingredients. The simpler the ingredients, the better the chocolate. There should only be very few ingredients, four to five at the max and chocolate should not include ingredients that you don’t recognize. The next checkpoint is certifications. Look for one or more of the following: Fair Trade, Fair for Life, Rainforest Alliance and USDA Organic.

Here are a few treats we think you should try.

  1. Theo Chocolate is organic. Their beans are sourced from multiple countries to ensure the best bean possible. With excellent care taken from bean to bar, the Theo Chocolate family makes small batches at a time to guarantee the best taste. www.theochocolate.com
  2. Divine: A leading Fair Trade brand in the UK, and an agent in the world of socially responsible enterprise, Divine Chocolate stems from Ghana and is known for its quality and taste. www.divinechocolate.com
  3. Green & Black’s: Run by a husband and wife duo, Green & Black’s name is simple: green for its organic qualities and black for its deep, rich flavor. Made with 70% cocoa, their bars are almost black in color. www.greenandblacks.com
  4. Endangered Species Chocolate is on a mission to raise awareness about endangered animals while selling natural and ethically traded chocolate. Each year, Endangered Species Chocolate donates ten percent of their net profits to non-profits. www.chocolatebar.com
  5. Equal Exchange: Always searching for new ways to improve the food system, Equal Exchange offers a variety of products that consumers can feel good about. With a commitment to only source from small organic shareholder farmers, their chocolate is good for you and the producer.  www.equalexchange.coop

In the middle of production for issue no. 2, several of our team were invited to a wedding in Hawaii.  Not wanting to miss out on the celebrations, we took our work on the road. Below are some of the outtakes from the shoot in Hawaii.

Photos by Brandon Dube.

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