A year to move and be moved

Happy New Year chocolate lovers!

As I sit here by the fire, glass of red wine in hand, and a sampling of 75% Madecasse, 70% Agapey from Barbados, and Theo’s newest Pili Pili Congo bar, I am filled with goodwill and good tastes.¬†This chocolate moves me, it causes me to engage my senses – I look, I listen, I touch, l smell, and I take my sweet time allowing the flavors melt in my mouth.

I get pops of cherry, coffee, chilli. I think fondly of my trip to Madagascar years ago. I dream about how my cold toes would benefit from soaking up the sun and sand in Barbados. I think of the farmers and their families in the DRC who will benefit from the proceeds of Theo’s pili pili bar, the result of a partnership with the Eastern Congo Initiative, whose founder is a certain well-known actor. I may not be a fan of all his work on screen, but I admire what he does outside of his day job, and am definitely behind his organization’s vision:

“ECI believes that lasting, long-term success happens when the Congolese lead and develop solutions that work for their own communities. Be a part of the solution- get involved.”

– ECI Founder, Ben Affleck

I implore you, if you can handle the heat, to go and buy yourself this bar. The story of why the ECI partnership arose is written on the inside. You will learn that cocoa is a high-yield crop that prevents deforestation and can provide a significant source of income and stability in a country that has gone through immense upheaval. Further, this is the type of development model that makes sense. A participatory one where the community that one is trying to help is directly involved in planning their own future. This is sustainable business in action.

With the year ahead on my mind, my passion for spreading the word about sustainably sourced and delicious chocolate is ever present in my thoughts. I am curious to learn more about where my chocolate dollars travel, who they impact, how they can be routed to support organizations’ who give a damn about both quality and ethics. Chocolate cannot just save you from a meltdown at work, a bad breakup, a stressful move. It can save families from abject poverty. It can send kids to school instead of out in the fields, wielding machetes that are half their size. It can teach farmers how to efficiently grow cacao trees in a way that nurtures and sustains the earth. It can connect you to people half way around the world, to a product’s origins.

And, as I’ll never cease to repeat, it can blow your mind when you taste a well-crafted bar. I challenge you to make 2013 the year you try a sustainably sourced chocolate bar you have never had before. I encourage you to learn about the country where the beans in that bar came from and learn about the climate and culture and people there. Heck, maybe this will inspire ideas for your next trip?

What chocolate bar has moved you lately? What cause will you move to support this year?