Confessions of an Uneducated Chocoholic

This candy bar is helping change the world. Who knew chocolate could be so powerful?

This candy bar is helping change the world. Who knew chocolate could be so powerful?

This post was going to be simple: Get free chocolate bar; eat chocolate bar; write quick post about its awesomeness; done. Blog in, blog out. I was wrong.

I am a card-carrying, should-be-going-to-weekly-meetings-member of Chocoholics Anonymous. If it ain’t chocolate, it ain’t dessert, I always say. So when the lovely Eve from Sweet Earth Chocolates put out a tweet about getting a free chocolate bar to sample, it was like an implanted directive flashed in the primal parts of my brain: GET. THAT. Hence, this part of my post:

While I ate the chocolate bar and shared it with my family (I know! Sharing my chocolate! Shocker!) I slowed down my usual get-that-chocolate-into-my-mouth-like-the-world-is-coming-to-an-end speed  so I could savor it and give it the attention it deserved. This was not your ordinary chocolate bar. This was something special. It had a lack of bitter after-taste even though the chocolate was bittersweet and had a coca content of 72%. It was smooooooooth, not gritty like lower grade chocolates. M1 said he even tasted a “hint of strawberry flavor”. (Hello, Mr. Mature Pallette -Where did you come from?!?) The LOML loved it. M2 and M3 weren’t as big of fans because it was bittersweet,  and not what they were expecting. After eating more (it didn’t taste bad enough that they gave up their share) they gave it a thumbs up as well. All around, we gave the Sweet Earth Chocolates Bittersweet chocolate bar our Calandro Clan Seal of Approval.

That’s where this post could have ended. Short. Simple. Then I looked at the inside of the chocolate bar’s wrapper: it had information about an organization called Project Hope and Fairness based in San Luis Obispo. What is it? “We are a volunteer organization created to help cocoa farmers in the economically developing nations of Ivory Coast and Ghana.” I had heard about Fair Trade Certified coffee and chocolates, but never took the time to learn more about it. (When I eat chocolate I have a one-track-mind. I already said that.) I logged on to their site and had my tunnel-vision-chocolate-blurred eyes opened. I will never look at chocolate so blindly again. Here’s information I learned and copied straight from their site:

  • More than 75% of chocolate consumed in the United States comes from 600,000 cocoa farms in Ivory Coast.
  • U.S. consumers eat 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate annually, representing nearly half the world’s supply.
  • 60% of Ivorian children of cocoa farmers receive no education at all.
  • Large chocolate companies who control most of the American market are not doing enough, and by buying Fair Trade you are bypassing conventional systems of exploitation to the benefit of impoverished cocoa farmers and their villages.
  • So little kids in Africa aren’t going to school so I can feed my addiction? Oh, man. That’s bad. This organization is working to change that. They are building schools for the kids, giving cocoa scales to villages so they aren’t cheated by middlemen when they sell their cocoa beans, paying school fees of sons and daughters of cocoa farmers, buying rubber boots for farmers to protect them from deadly snake bites, travelling to Africa to help distribute purchased items, and much more. All from this organization based out of my small town. Where have I been holed up?!? Why haven’t I heard about this organization before?

    More research informs me the CFO and Secretary of the organization is a man named Ernie Roide who is a fabulous, generous, hard-working, community-minded man. I met his entire, lovely family through a parenting class in our community. Of course he is involved! Because he rocks. The big chocolate world just got smaller.

    My Father got this shirt from the Ivory Coast and wore it all the time when I was little. Isn't it fabulous?

    My Father got this shirt from the Ivory Coast and wore it all the time when I was little. Isn't it fabulous?

    But wait -there’s more: As I write this post I am in our family room where I can see my father’s cool tie-died shirt hanging on the wall that he got on his many travels to the IvoryCoast as an advance-man for the White House (so much more back-story here -I can’t even get into it. Focus, Eileen.) In this room we also have a huge, solid-wood elephant and a wooden mask from my Dad’s travels. He loved this area of Africa and I would sit with him when I was a little girl and listen to stories about his travels. I have heard of the Ivory Coast since childhood, but never really learned much about it or thought about my chocolate-addiction-connection.

    This is amazing! I have to learn more! I want to do more! I want to help this part of the world that has brought me chocolate bliss more times than I can count! I will start this way: from now on, I will work to replace my chocolate habit with ONLY fair trade chocolate. I can’t completely control the flow of chocolate into my house (my addiction is fed by many generous outside sources), but I can change how I spend my own money on my addiction. It may cost more, but these farmers and their families are worth it.

    Also, the bar Eve gave me for review retails at $3.95 in her shop. I will donate ten times that amount to Project Hope and Fairness (plus I will round up, just to keep things simple). So that makes a $40.00 donation to Project Hope and Fairness. Wait. On the site I learned a pair of rubber boots costs $10.00 each for the farmers. These boots help keep them safe from the deadly poisonous green mamba snake. I’ll donate $50.00. That’s enough to buy a pair of boots in honor or each member of the Calandro Clan.

    This donation is what I’m giving my family for Valentine’s Day, and some more chocolate from Eve’s wonderful collection! Happy Valentine’s Day to all our readers and thank you, Project Hope and Fairness, for educating me about the world of chocolate. I’ll never look at my addiction, or a chocolate bar, the same way again.

    Comment (1)

    1. Eve Neuhaus

      Wow! What a thrill to get your check for Project Hope and Fairness when I stopped by the chocolate shop this morning! Thank you so much for appreciating the chocolate bar AND Project Hope and Fairness!


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