When most people think of Valentines day, the first thing that comes to mind are heart-shaped boxes full of chocolate. This year, indulge yourself (and your Valentine) by attending the Global Cocoa Project’s bi-coastal chocolate-tasting fundraiser: Explore the World of Chocolate.Vintage Irving near New York’s Union Square will be hosting the event on Saturday, February 12th from 1-4 pm. You’ll get the opportunity to taste the incredible range of flavors found in bars and bon bons created by premium makers and chocolatiers like Amano, Bonnat, Valhrona, Cacao Prieto, Alter Eco, Kallari, El Ceibo, Pacari, Taza, Green & Black’s, XOCO, Roni Sue, Tcho, MOJO and Madecasse – all of whom cultivate working relationships with growers from whom they source their cocoa.
The Global Cocoa Project is a high-impact poverty alleviation project whose goals are to significantly improve the lives of cocoa farmers worldwide through the supply of equipment and basic needs. The secondary goal is to educate Americans about the realities of the cocoa industry and leverage the power of knowledgeable, concerned consumers to help make cocoa growing a profitable and sustainable occupation for farmers. Shana Dressler, the founder of the Global Cocoa Project, states, “When I found out from Tom Neuhaus (founder of Project Hope & Fairness) how poor cocoa farmers are I thought, ‘Cocoa is the raw material of my favorite food. This isn’t right. What can I do about this?’ This event is one of several ways to create awareness around the issues facing cocoa farmers around the world and especially in West Africa where the farmers are among the poorest. By buying chocolate from chocolate companies that have built their businesses using ethical principles and value chains that support farmers, a consumer actually contributes in the most profound way to the sustainability of not only a company worth supporting, but also the farmers. While many consumers are aware of fair trade coffee, tea and possibly sugar, many don’t realize that chocolate is also ethically sourced by a number of great chocolate companies. As far as poverty alleviation goes, there is definitely a place for philanthropy, but more and more I see the long term solutions being made through social enterprise.”
Proceeds from the event will be going to Project Hope & Fairness, a 501c3 organization that supports West African cocoa farmers who live below the poverty level, working in dire conditions without basic needs such as scales, access to clean water and transportation.
As a trusted third-party provider of Fair Trade certification for cocoa and more than 100 other product categories, Fair Trade USA is a lead sponsor of the event. “We applaud the leadership of the Global Cocoa Project to rally ethical businesses in an effort to educate consumers about the known injustices found in the cocoa industry and the solutions that are available. Through our partnership with the Global Cocoa Project, we hope to grow the demand for socially and environmentally sustainable cocoa, ultimately benefiting the lives of thousands of cocoa farmers and their families around the world,” said Cate Baril, Director of Business Development, Fair Trade USA.
If you’re like me, you may be wondering if you’ll even be able to tell the difference between so many different chocolates. Before meeting Shana myself, I was under the impression that there were only a few different types ranging from dark to light, with maybe some nuts thrown in for good measure. However, after sitting down at a table with her and tasting a small chili chocolate wedge, followed by a dark chocolate square from Madagascar, it became very clear that there is in fact a big difference, and it’s delicious.
So, you’re officially invited to discover distinctive regional cocoa bean flavors, while experiencing an equally important taste of how it feels to change the lives of those who grow them. You’ll also be able to wash it all down with coffee, tea, and wines from Vintage Irving. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Valentine’s afternoon than that! You can buy tickets for $30 by clicking here (2 for $55!), and a small number will also be available at the door for $40; last year’s event drew a crowd of over 350 people, so you should purchase now before they’re all gone.