Thoughts (and chocolate) for Loving Day and Juneteenth

Hello! Happy solstice, a day to mark planetary shifts!

Below are a couple of my social media posts on two other big days in June — Loving Day, and Juneteenth — plus chocolate to go with them!

Enjoy!

Valerie Beck is in Chicago, Illinois.
June 11 at 2:19 PM ·

Happy Loving Day tomorrow, June 12!

No, it’s not another Valentine’s Day, though it could be! Loving Day celebrates interracial marriage, by marking the anniversary of the unanimous US Supreme Court decision in 1967 in the case of Loving v Virginia, which said no state can make interracial marriage illegal, and that blacks and whites and anybody else can legally marry each other or anyone of any background. This recognition of freedom to marry who you choose also underpins the later 2015 US decision recognizing same-sex marriage, so happy Pride Month too!

It always seemed like common sense or basic human rights to me, to live as you choose and love whom you choose, without interference from government, oligarchs, vigilantes, or anyone else. Maybe that’s in part because as you may know, I come from a mixed race and mixed religion family! In case you’re curious, this post in another one of my blogs, Diary of My Disastrous Law Career, gives you a bit of background on my family, plus fun vintage photos!

So, I’ve gathered here today some delicious craft chocolate that explicitly represents love — Chocolatasm‘s Hawaii salt chocolate hearts, the Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate Love & Happiness raspberry orange olive oil chocolate bar, and the Violet Sky Onward & Upward Love rose and pistachio chocolate bar on which I collaborated, plus Love-themed snacking cacao by Good King Cacao — to say happy Loving Day, and here’s to our human birthright of love, liberty, and unity! May we deepen and expand these elements in our hearts and in our world, for the Golden Age of empathy and equality!

#lovingday

Valerie Beck is in Chicago, Illinois.
Yesterday at 1:10 PM ·

Hello! Happy #Juneteenth!

This date [June 19] marks the ending of (1st-wave) slavery in the United States. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during the Civil War over slavery, yet enslaved people achieved liberation over an elongated period of time, culminating on June 19, 1865, in Texas.

But wait, you or people of the future may ask: aren’t all people born free, as expressions of the One Great Soul, and isn’t it true that no political or social (or tech-med) structure shall violate the fundamental principles that people are to care for people (e.g. love thy neighbor) and exercise their own liberty and free will while respecting that of others?

Of course!

To celebrate eternal inviolable liberty, how about a delicious liberation brunch of Crow & Moss Chocolate of Michigan, and Xocolatl Chocolate cacao nibs, on cinnamon toast with berries, all organic?

But wait, you may ask: what makes this a liberation brunch? Here comes one of my it’s-all-connected stories : )

My mother often made cinnamon toast for us kids when we were growing up, so I always think of her when I make it! She spent part of her childhood in Michigan, on a small family farm in a township that had been illegally racially integrated since its founding in the 1860s. That’s not a typo: racial mixing was illegal in the US, mixing of the One Human Family, in the North too. But people in Mom’s area did it anyway because it was ethical and practical, sending their black children and their white children to the same school for example. When my mother spent a summer with relatives in the South as a little girl in the 1950s (the time of 2nd-wave slavery: brutal “Jim Crow” apartheid), she was horrified by the abuses against black people. Now the laws have changed, and segregation is illegal, yet it happens in many ways including incarceration where prisoners work for the state or corporations for little or no pay (part of 3rd-wave slavery), or consider West Africa where over 2 million black kids work in hazardous or slavery conditions on cacao farms so corporations can sell cheap chocolate.

Mom never bought Aunt Jemima “slavery syrup,” and doesn’t buy slavery chocolate. Voilà! @ Chicago, Illinois

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Activism, Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

Rad Dads: Men Who Craft Chocolate and Equality [video, shopping links]

Hello!

Click for my chat with “rad dad” bean-to-bar chocolate makers Matt Weyandt of Xocolatl Chocolate of Atlanta, and Mark Gerrits of Obolo Chocolate of Santiago, Chile, about craft chocolate and crafting equality [video on YouTube, recorded from our Instagram Live broadcast] and scroll down to the end of this post to shop.

Happy June!

This is the month of the Solstice, and of liberation celebrations such as Loving Day and Juneteenth, which all represent types of awakenings. June is also the month of Father’s Day, which could represent an awakening to equality and to what leadership could look like reimagined for an enlightened society.

For example, if we believe that Black Lives Matter, don’t we also agree that Black African lives matter, that it is monstrous that 2.1 million Black African children work as cacao farmers in hazardous conditions in Cote d’Ivoire so that big chocolate brands can take the local cacao and sell cheap global chocolate, and that these big brands and their sales and distribution channels must immediately stop using child slave labor? This is the #ChocolateFreedomProject I talk about: bringing awareness and an end to child slave labor on West African cacao farms that supply cocoa beans for 70% of the world’s chocolate.

Similarly, if we believe that white people should not have power or privilege over black or brown people (I would change words like white and black, by the way, to more accurate terms, less fraught with metaphor; any suggestions?), don’t we also believe that masculine should not have power or privilege over feminine, and, going further, government officials and corporate oligarchs should not have power or privilege over people; going all the way: no one should have power or privilege over anyone.

Implementing true respect for all in the human family necessitates a reimagining of not just individual relationships, but also of economic and government structures and of the patriarchal colonial capitalist oligarchy in which our world operates. Why not a new Golden Age of empathy and equality, where we care for people and planet, and believe in equal participation?

Maybe I should have warned you that when I put Equality in the title of this blog post, I meant it, all the way!

To explore our theme of equality, I invited two dear craft chocolate maker friends and clients of mine — Mark Gerrits of ÓBOLO Chocolate, and Matt Weyandt of Xocolatl Chocolate — to chat with me on Instagram Live as part of the Stay Home With Chocolate festival, Father’s Day edition. Thank you to these gentlemen-supermen for sharing their time and thoughts! Click for a low-tech video-of-a-video version of our IG Live, on my YouTube channel! [video on YouTube, recorded from our Instagram Live broadcast]

Craft chocolate gives us a delicious view into an equitable way of life, because it involves a supply chain and products that meet my 5 Ss of ethical chocolate:

  • slavery-free
  • soy-free and industrial additive-free
  • sustainable
  • small-batch and
  • scrumptious!
Set-up on my kitchen counter for our Instagram Live chat.

Click for a low-tech video-of-a-video version of our IG Live, and click below to shop:

[video on YouTube, recorded from our Instagram Live broadcast]

Xocolatl Chocolate — use code HEALTHY20 for 20% off

Yahara Chocolate of Wisconsin — online ordering for shipment anywhere, use code chocolateuplift for 10% off ÓBOLO Chocolate, Xocolatl Chocolate, or other brands

Xocolatl and Obolo are also available at these retailers who are open as of the time of writing:

As always, if you are looking for a specific bar or brand or general type of craft chocolate, you can use my free Chocolate Finder service: just send me a message and I’ll help you find what you’re looking for!

As you may know, I typically don’t sell retail; instead my business Chocolate Uplift sells and distributes craft chocolate bars like the ones listed above wholesale to retailers, and I also provide consulting services to chocolate makers and cacao farm owners, and speaking engagements to the public and for meetings and events.

Thank you, and keep eating ethical chocolate!

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

With Mark of ÓBOLO (left) and Scott of Totto’s Market
With Matt of Xocolatl (right) and team

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Activism, Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

Washington Post: “much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labor”

Cocoa’s child
laborers

Mars, Nestlé and Hershey pledged nearly two decades ago to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labor.



June 5, 2019

Thank you to the journalists and the Washington Post for publishing this article, on a topic our circle has long discussed through the #chocolatefreedomproject I started! Read the article here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/business/hershey-nestle-mars-chocolate-child-labor-west-africa/

Your friend in slavery-free chocolate,

ValerieValerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift

Delicious Ethics: What’s in Your Chocolate, Who Grew Your Cacao?

Hello there!

20181115_190658
Craft chocolate and sustainable cacao for my talk at NW Choc on Delicious Ethics!

Click for the presentation I developed for my talk at the 2018 Northwest Chocolate Festival in sweet Seattle, entitled

Delicious Ethics: What’s in Your Chocolate, Who Grew Your Cacao?

To support cacao and chocolate that are slavery-free and sustainable, you can use the #chocolatefreedomproject hashtag, purchase transparent-trade chocolate, and let brands know you care about what’s in your chocolate, and who grew your cacao.

Thank you and keep eating real chocolate!

Onward and upward!

Valerie

IMG_20181109_133425_228
On my way to sweet Seattle for the talk and chocolate festival!

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com

Sustainable Chocolate Brokering, Distribution, Consulting, Speaking

 

 

Child labor in cacao: scale of efforts to solve problem nowhere near scale of problem

The Cocoa Barometer 2018 report is out, and it reminds us that 2.1 million children work on cacao farms in West Africa, so that shelves in the US and Europe and elsewhere can stay stocked with cheap chocolate.

The report also points out that

“not a single company or government is anywhere near the sector-wide objective to eliminate child labour. It is high time for efforts to be increased. In that light, it is important to stress that child labour is a symptom of deeper problems; without tackling systemic poverty and a lack of local infrastructures, child labour will not be eradicated.”

Click through this article for the report, or download the report here.

Solutions, on my Instagram:

Social justice Sunday / sustainability Sunday! Reports show 2.1 million children work on cacao farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, so shelves in the US and Europe and elsewhere can stay stocked with cheap chocolate from big brands.
🌟
The Cacao Barometer 2018 report has been released, and reminds us that the cause of child labor is poverty. The authors emphasize that “not a single company or government is anywhere near reaching the sector-wide objective of the elimination of child labour, and not even near their commitments of a 70% reduction of child labour by 2020.” You can see the report on my blog at http://www.chocolateuplift.com.
🌟
Do you agree we can vote with our $, €, voices, and ethics? Companies will act when we demand it. We are empowered:
We can tell Hershey/Nestle/Mars/Mondelez/Ferrero(Nutella)/Callebaut and other big brands – and the retailers who carry them – that we want farmers to be paid a living wage instead of 50 cents per day, and that we want the brands to use #slaveryfree cacao and let kids go to school.
🌟
As I highlight in my talks, we can also buy craft chocolate and can read labels to make sure we see:
1. the cacao country of origin, just as a bottle of wine tells you where the grapes are from; if a brand has no transparency on who grew the cacao, ask what they’re hiding,
2. a small-batch brand that cares about human rights and sustainability in cacao, which also leads to better flavor through better agricultural practices and fair payments, and
3. a soy-free brand / clean ingredients, as chemical additives often go with low-quality cacao from non-sustainable sources in industrial processing.
🌟 Empathy ends poverty.
That’s my #chocolatefreedomproject; join me!
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

You can also check out CREER Africa, a nonprofit children’s rescue center in Ivory Coast, which helps kids who escaped from cacao slavery or other trafficking and which I support by donating meals to the kids at the center, as a way to make a difference.

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

www.instagram.com/chocolateuplift

Who Labors for Chocolate?

Hello there, and happy Labor Day in the USA!

picnic
My picnic this Labor Day weekend included exquisite bean-to-bar chocolate by Dick Taylor, made from direct trade cacao from Belize!

A note on my Chocolate Freedom Project this Labor Day, which brings awareness of and alternatives to child labor on Ivory Coast cacao farms where Big Chocolate buys cocoa beans. Solutions that we can implement as customers include choosing fair trade and direct trade chocolate, which is better for foodie, farmer, family, and field.

Solutions that I recommend to my country clients and cacao farmer clients as a chocolate consultant include making chocolate in-country from sustainably grown cacao, instead of exporting all the cacao.

As this article entitled

Africa produces 75% of cocoa but gets 2% of $100b chocolate market revenue

reminds us: “The formula for the wealth of nations is clear: rich nations add value to exports, poor nations export raw materials.”

The revolution has begun! : )

Have a happy, thoughtful, and delicious Labor Day!

Cocoa
Photo: Ghana Business News article referenced above

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

summer 2016

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift and Valerie’s Original Chocolate Tours

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com/chocolate-tours

social media: @chocolateuplift

Nestlé bid to throw out cocoa child labor lawsuit in US Supreme Court rejected

A civil lawsuit accusing Nestlé, Cargill and ADM of aiding and abetting child slavery on Ivorian cocoa farms has again thwarted attempts to have the case thrown.

Source: Nestlé bid to throw out cocoa child labor lawsuit in US Supreme Court rejected

Sweet Springfield: Chocolate Wellness Talk and Honest Abe

by Valerie Beck, Chocolate Expert and Sweet Speaker

Have chocolate, will travel
Have chocolate, will travel

What do chocolate and President Abraham Lincoln have in common?

They have honesty in common, when the chocolate is made with real ingredients and fairly traded cocoa beans.

Why the “Honest Abe” comparison at all?

Because I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time in sprightly Springfield, Illinois, 200 miles from my home in Chicago, where I gave a chocolate wellness talk, and where Abraham Lincoln lived much of his adult life, practiced law, campaigned for office, and was returned for burial after his assassination.

Old State House in Springfield, IL
Old State Capitol in Springfield, IL, a powerful Abraham Lincoln site for Illinoisans like me and for all other Lincoln enthusiasts

I traveled to the Illinois state capital at the kind invitation of an influential ladies philanthropic organization to speak about chocolate wellness, and we had a marvelous and delicious time. Of course I also took some time to re-visit one of the best museums in the US – the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum – and to do some Springfield “chocolate scouting.”

Heartland
Midwest moment

Where chocolate begins: sharing cacao at my talk
Where chocolate begins: magnesium-rich and health benefit-filled cacao, which I shared at my talk

The audience enjoyed lunch and dessert before my talk and chocolate tasting
Dessert before dessert: the audience enjoyed lunch and dessert before my talk and chocolate tasting

One of the elements of my talk involved playing a game I created called “Sometimes, Always, Never: What’s Really In Your Chocolate.” The way it works: I explain which ingredients and origins to look for in chocolate bars, and which to avoid. Then we have audience members read the labels on a variety of chocolate bars I’ve brought, and we talk about where the cocoa beans came from, and what the ingredients are in each chocolate bar are. Knowing the health, labor, and environmental benefits or risks, the group decides whether each chocolate bar is one that they might sometimes choose for themselves and their families, one that they can always feel good about choosing, or one that they would never want in their household.

The game resulted in some surprises as it does every time, and then of course we ate the chocolate bars that the group decided to put into the “Always” pile! This included delicious, healthful, fair trade chocolate bars by Alter Eco, Dick Taylor, and El Dorado. The latter is made in Ecuador and is not yet available in the US, and this group was my first group to sample it!

Inside joke: Dick Taylor craft chocolate from California meets Dick Taylor Collision Services of Illinois
Inside joke: Dick Taylor craft chocolate from California meets Dick Taylor Collision Services of Illinois

I was impressed with the group, and moved by the glowing testimonial I received:

“Valerie is an exuberant and extraordinary speaker who superbly involves the audience as she presents such interesting facts about chocolate and wellness.  She is very friendly and personable, yet a cylinder of dynamite showering listeners with delightful energy!  The manner in which she shares her heart, soul, lively humor and vast knowledge makes her presentations quite enjoyable.  Valerie is highly recommended as a speaker to your group!”

  Janie Rast, Ladies organization, Springfield, IL

Great state of Illinois chocolate by first-class local chocolatier Cocoa Blue for my audience
Great state of Illinois chocolate by first-class local chocolatier Cocoa Blue for my audience. Honest Abe would have approved. Click for my blog post on Cocoa Blue.

Thank you, Ladies of Springfield! I appreciate your hospitality, eagerness to hear about chocolate’s health benefits, and openness to my Chocolate Freedom Project to raise awareness of child slave labor on West African cocoa farms and of fair trade alternatives that are healthier and more delicious. “Keep eating real chocolate!”

Honored to have dinner - and dessert - at the home of the dear chocolate lover who invited me to town
I was honored to have dinner – and a very chocolatey dessert – at the home of the dear chocolate lover who invited me to speak in Springfield; we connected because she and her husband had been on my Chocolate Tours years ago when I operated that business.

There’s even more deliciousness to this sweet Springfield story:

I arrived in Springfield the day before my talk and checked into the Inn at 835, a captivating antiques-filled bed-and-breakfast. The rooms were lovely, breakfast was delicious, wine and cheese hour at night was a charming touch, and the chocolate chip cookies at bedtime were the ultimate!

Bedtime chocolate chip cookies served at the Inn at 835
Sweet dreams at the Inn at 835

From the Inn, it was a short walk to the Abraham Lincoln Museum. This was my third trip to Springfield since this exceptional museum opened 10 years ago, and I’ve visited the Lincoln Museum each time. I continue to  notice additional details in the exhibits, such as the pile of legal papers in the re-creation of Lincoln’s utterly disorderly law office marked “if you can’t find it, look here.”

Children's art at the Lincoln Museum
Children’s art display at the Lincoln Museum

The exhibit that shows the 4-year Civil War in 4 minutes, using a video map of the US, music, and a running tally of the dead, but no spoken words, always makes me weep. And the exhibit in which the late journalist Tim Russert broadcasts about the 4-way presidential race “Campaign 1860” always makes me smile.

Vegan friendly Cafe Andiamo
Delicious chocolate cake doughnut at vegan-friendly Cafe Andiamo, against a background of local art by Billinda DeVillez

I followed my museum visit with some chocolate scouting – of course! – and some sightseeing, and enjoyed every element of my sweet Springfield visit.

Dana-Thomas House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Springfield’s Dana-Thomas House by Frank Lloyd Wright

Cafe Moxo
Cookies galore at Cafe Moxo, including chocolate chip cinnamon raisin

Your friend in “honest chocolate,”

Valerie

3rd from right with some of Springfield's philanthropic ladies
3rd from right with some of Springfield’s philanthropic ladies

Valerie Beck, The Chocolate Queen

CEO/Founder Chocolate Uplift

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Instagram: @chocolateuplift