Smother her in Chocolate February 13, 2011
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Dark and decadent, she cascades over a smooth silky tongue creating pure bliss; chocolate, she solves every problem. Whether it be walking down the street and twisting an ankle or having a bad day at school- chocolate has always been there.In terms of Valentine’s Day, if someone forgot about the overly publicized, loving, commercial holiday- then all they have to do to make up for it is buy a beautiful box of chocolate to please their significant other.Unfortunately, while chocolate does an excellent job of showing our loved ones how special they are to us, it may have the opposite effect on Mother Earth. While she’s busy changing the seasons around, making the Baton Rouge, Louisiana weather extra cold, cocoa bean workers all over the world are viciously ravaging her loins.Cocoa beans may be beautiful and delectable in their final product but in the process to become luscious or gourmet- they’ve come to be nothing but trouble. Often grown in tropical climates such as Central America, South America andAfrica, these small pods were originally developed under the tall, handsome canopy in dense rain forests where they promoted biodiversity. This kind of growing is known as shade-grown cocoa and as deforestation becomes more and more popular, shade-grown cocoa has become harder and harder to come by.Without the luscious canopies to protect the forest floor from the sun’s strong rays and the weather’s strong sway, many migratory bird species are now being exposed to the harsh climate in areas where they once found winter solace. As a direct after effect to these species disappearing, the insect populations where cocoa plantations are booming are calling for the use of stronger poisonous pesticides, furthering the damage to biodiversity as well as to the livelihood of its workers.Most shade-grown chocolate is also fair-trade which according to Oxfam International and many other organizations, means that the producers get a fair deal- good working conditions, a decent living wage and reasonable security.It pretty much means they’re promised to be paid better than they would without fair trade arrangements and thank goodness for that.Without the promise of fair trade chocolate, the cocoa bean industry would hold no hope for the future of sustainability. And yet now, according to Cocoa Sustainability, it’s gained the dedication of Mars, IBM and the USDA in a cocoa bean genome project as an effort to better utilize the tropical land.The aims of the project are to get farmers to be able to produce not only more cocoa beans per plant but to also use the remainder of their land for better yielding crops as a way to increase their income and pull them out of poverty.Could there be a sweeter way to grow chocolate?Could there be a sweeter way to give back to Mother Earth this Valentine’s Day, showing her how much you love her?Fair trade chocolate is one of the few ways to smother our mother with love during this holiday, it’s fair to all and it can be found just about anywhere bearing a small symbol stating its fair trade certified. Better yet, by buying fair trade chocolate for those we love, we demonstrate that Valentine’s Day isn’t just a day where we show our love to one other person but rather a day for us to show our love to everyone.In the paraphrased words of Forest Gump, if the world were a giant box of chocolates, we should know exactly what we’re getting with each delicious bite- a soulful helping of good karma that comes with buying the right way.