From March 26 to April 10, members of the Green & Black’s team and five ambassadors traveled to the Dominican Republic to help the communities that supply their cocoa beans by digging an 11.5 km trench. The trench dug with shovels and picks stretch from a stream down to the cacao farms, helping the farmers grow their plants.
“We wanted to get our hands dirty benefitting the communities that give us a quality product,” says Robert Grgurev, sales associate brand manager for Green & Black’s in the United States.
So for 11 days, the team trudged out at 6:30 a.m to start digging. Pretty soon, community members were joining in — as many as 20 to 30 a day! Grgurev says that without the support from the community the trench digging and pipe laying wouldn’t have picked up so much momentum. “We couldn’t have got it done without them,” Grgurev says.
This huge project not only brought water to the farms, but it brought people together. Besides the digging, the Green & Black’s members were staying with the families and experiencing the culture of the community. Grgurev says that within three of four days in the communities, they felt accepted. The people understood the commitment Green & Black’s had to its farmers, and the members of Green & Black’s learned what the company name really meant. Green stands for the original plant, cacao, that produces chocolate through a long process. At the end of the process, a rich, smooth black chocolate bar ends up on shelves across the world.
Busting open a cacao plant revealed the sweet and sour natural coco, Grgurev says. After that, the father of the house he was staying in showed him the cacao farm and the process of fermenting the beans, the most critical part that gives the chocolate its rich flavor. After that, Grgurev watch the fermented beans be dried and roasted, and then the beans are turned in to a butter that will eventually make a smooth Green & Black’s bar.
Every Green & Black’s member and the ambassadors learned a lot about the process of making fair trade, organic chocolate. Grgurev personally had only learned about the process on paper, but now having seen each step and meeting the people who make it happen, he says he can more confidently talk about the process. He has been there, seen it and helped dig a trench that make it happen. Plus, it makes him even more proud of the chocolate he already loved.
This trip to the Dominican Republic was the first of its kind for Green & Black’s, but Grgurev says that in the next few weeks, they will be looking at more trip options because Green & Black’s wants to make this an annual part of the company.
Since the company started in the U.K in 1991, Green & Black’s has only furthered their stance on organic and fair trade, making their whole production fair trade globally in January of 2010. “It helps show people we are still committed to the values of the brand,” Grgurev says.
By being organic and fair trade, the company does pay more for its product and spends extra time developing it, but Grgurev says it’s ultimately the customer that thinks it is worth it.
“You can be organic without tasting good, but that is not the commitment of Green & Black’s,” Grgurev says.
And Grgurev definitely thinks the chocolate tastes great. His personal favorites are the milk chocolate with almond and the dark chocolate with sour cherries. But those are just two of the 13 flavors Green & Black’s offers.
So, the team here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS sampled some of organic chocolate bars, and we had some favorites.
White chocolate was a clear winner in the office, and I would agree. Most of the time white chocolate can have a plastic taste to it, but this bar was nothing but pure sweet.
The Maya Gold chocolate bar, which has a hint of orange of other spices, was loved as well. Getting reviews such as, “This is the ultimate chocolate.”
Toffee hit the taste buds, too. “It’s a tiny bit bitter, but also oh-so-sweet, and the tiny toffee bits add a nice crunch and flavor.”
Now that you have heard some of our favorites, comment below and let us know what you think of organic chocolate and its tastes!
Photos by Stanton Media