I love how he talks about going beyond Fair Trade:
“I shop fair trade as much as possible. How do you pay your farmers and how do they share in the profits?
I love the Fair Trade idea. I believe that we have to be vigilant that Fair Trade does not become a marketing gimmick or reduced to a bumper sticker. We must ask the questions and dig deeper to find out how the company treats those that supply them raw materials AND how they treat their own employees. Fair Trade has been scrutinized because some question if the money ever finds its way to the farmer in the field and not coop bureaucrats. My chocolate is not “certified” Fair Trade mainly because the farmers I deal with cannot afford the certification and they are very very loosely organized. They are very poor. I go way way beyond Fair Trade and here is how I do it–
- I deal DIRECT with the farmers 100%. I have a rule that I will not buy beans from farmers I have not met – in person. This is hard because I travel a lot and while it is fun it’s not always easy. The travel is not the hard part; it is the complicated nature of importing that I do myself. I have a local company that handles shipping and customs clearing, but other than that it is all me. I am the only chocolate factory in the US (that I am aware of) that sources 100% of their beans direct. There may be one other person who does this, but I cannot verify this and he is a much smaller company. When I go to these origins I see the farms and determine myself the issues that a Fair Trade certifier would look at. The main thing is that I am building relationships with the farmers and their families. This is hard and takes time, but it is worth it.
- I pay far above the Fair Trade market price (which is set above the world market price) for beans.
- I have implemented a program called Stake in the OutcomeTM (a profit sharing program for the farmers) which is described below and on our website at The Farmers. This guarantees to the farmers open books. This is not a negotiation tactic to get them to lower the price on the beans; it is in ADDITION to what I pay them for the beans. I know the name of every farmer who contributed to the crop in both locations. This is something that I doubt any other chocolate maker in the world can say. You can’t share with someone if you don’t know their name. I distributed my first profits in Ecuador in December 2007 and in Mexico in January 2008. These were, by far, my best days yet in the chocolate business! They said that nobody had ever come back to thank them let alone share money with them and show the books.”
I also love that he’s a family man and isn’t afraid to show his sentimentality towards them in his product:
“What do the “1-2-3” and “toot-toot” mean on the back of the bar packaging?
1-2-3 is something that my wife and I have been writing in cards and notes to each other for nearly 25 years. Nobody but us knows what it means and this was my little tribute to her on the package. Our daughter says that we need to put the meaning in our will or safe deposit box so they can know what it means someday. As for “toot-toot”, when our daughter Lawren was little and we tucked her in at night we would leave her room and say “night night” and she responded “toot-toot” for some odd unexplainable reason. This phrase has carried on with us now for years. Putting “toot-toot” on the package was my way of remembering her in those days long ago.”
When If I order this chocolate, I will DEFINITELY do a review for y’all. Perhaps even a giveaway!