With Valentine’s Day’s here, a lot of people start to think about (what else?) chocolate. Chocolate is the epitome of all that is sweet and luxurious. At least it is for us. For others, including many unfortunate children, growing and harvesting chocolate is a bitter existence. I watched the Netflix series, “Rotten, Bitter Chocolate” to get some background about their lives . The chocolate farmers are dirt poor, and forced to endure back-breaking labor. Most cocoa farmers earn less than $1 a day, the average make less than $200 a year. The children who are forced to work on these farms and in these cocoa processing areas are scarred all over their bodies; silent witness to the mistreatment they must endure on a daily basis. 30,000 children are being trafficked to work on the cocoa farms. In 2002, an investigative reporter for a Dutch television show discovered that the agreements signed by chocolate manufacturers to use fair and equitable employment were being totally disregarded. Many cocoa farms in West Africa utilize slave labor. I did some further research into this problem and discovered that many of the major chocolate manufacturers know and admit that they use slave labor in the production of cocoa and chocolate. These companies are: Hershey, Fowler’s Chocolate, Nestle, Godiva and Mars. This reporter tried contacting several confectioner companies to determine if he could generate any interest in fair labor practices. Finding none, he decided to take matters into his own hands and started his own company to manufacture chocolate, giving people an opportunity to be free and to live their lives free and with dignity.
Tony’s Chocolonely was founded on 11/29/2005. It focuses on producing and selling chocolate closely following fair trade practices opposing chattel slavery. By partnering with trading companies in Ghana and Ivory Coast to buy cocoa beans directly, Tony’s Chocolonely provides chocolate farmers with a premium price for their cocoa beans and combating exploiting exploitation. Tony’s pays 40% on top of the price that the cocoa board of the local government sets. The company’s slogan is “Crazy about chocolate, serious about people.” For this post, I ordered an assortment of flavors: milk chocolate caramel sea salt, milk chocolate honey almond nougat 32%, dark milk chocolate pretzel, white chocolate turmeric chai, dark chocolate chili fudge with pink peppercorns and milk chocolate salt honey comb. There are another few companies that are fair trade. They are Equal Exchange, Sjaak’s, Divine, Evalla, Altereca Foods, Sweet Riot, Green & Black, Loving Earth and Fair for Life.
Oh, and by the way,
O-Live & Co. Partners has partnered with the charitable organization, One Tree Planted! As of 2018, whenever you purchase a bottle of your favorite O-Live extra virgin olive oil through their online store, you will also be planting and caring for a tree in California!
The inspiration for this partnership came to them after seeing the devastation brought by the 2017 wildfires to the people of California. This campaign will help California’s environment recover from that disaster, and we are grateful for this opportunity to help in that recovery process by planting at least 8,000 trees.
Trees are the lifeblood of what we do at O-Live & Co. and are a necessity for the many olive farmers across California, which made the decision to take on this mission an easy one. We want to do as much as we can to help California recover, while fighting back against the changes to our climate that make these disasters more frequent and intense.
Trees play a vital role in the balance of our planet and its ecosystems. Planting trees and forests has many positive impacts including:
Reducing air pollution, which is at an all-time high worldwide
Preventing flooding and helping to filter water
Capturing and storing carbon dioxide, mitigating excess CO2 and global warming
Creating the oxygen needed by all life.
Creating valuable habitat for wildlife and biodiversity.
Preventing desertification and the loss of soil quality.
Providing a sustainable economic resource for poor communities.
Addressing the effects of climate change.
This partnership and its various positive effects reflect O-Live & Co.’s desire to achieve positive environmental, social, and economic impact. O-Live & Co. run a certified carbon neutral operation, we offset our carbon emissions by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Our state-of-the-art mill is eco-friendly and uses geothermal temperature controls, our groves are watered with a solar-powered irrigation system, and no part of our olives go unused – from the skin to the p