Welcome and why I started Aloha Feels
Aloha from a mellow, cozy night on the Island of Hawai’i. Today, already July 7 in some time zones, someone decided that it is the World Chocolate day so after plenty of requests and a final push by Tim Caminos, our web developer, I get going with a blog. The inspiration for an Aloha Feels blog is to share my personal discoveries on the bittersweet cacao and chocolate industry and also about my love for Hawaiian Chocolate and ethical businesses. So, let’s ride the wave.
Starting with ethical businesses, I remember as a child how my mum made selections of products in the grocery store based on businesses we support or don’t support. As a 7 years old hearing her say ‘we are not buying these bananas because they use slavery and unfairly treated workers’ made an impression on my young mind. And of course, I now know conscious consumerism is quite a thing.
Later studying the Ending Slavery program at the University of Nottingham I learned that what my mum did was something called the Free Produce Movement in the 1790s. Boycotting was established to fight slavery by only supporting businesses and products made from non-slave labor. We now call it voting with your wallet.
Maybe I just grow my own Cacao
Jump forward to the spring of 2009, the idea to grow cacao for my own chocolate company started on the grounds of a Retreat Center in Oxford, UK. I worked with a leadership company designing a program together with the Vice President of Sustainable Development for Unilever. After days of discussing sustainability in corporate leadership I blurted out that I’d like to do something to set an example not only train other leaders. We agreed the chocolate industry slack in ethical treatment of workers so that would be a good place to start.
YES, slavery and child labor are widely used in the chocolate industry and slavery and chocolate together in the same sentence just sounds out of tune. Slavery is suffering, greed and egotism. Chocolate is joy, love and celebration. How ironic.
Cacao in Hawai’i?
Anyway, I also thought Chocolate is a delicious topic through which to raise awareness of ethical treatment of workers in general and everyone needs more joy in life, so chocolate is a good place to start. But I didn’t know anything about Cacao or how chocolate is made.
My journey back home to Hawai’i that year started a long process of research into how Chocolate is really made. Can Cacao even grow in Hawai’i? Cacao only grow 20 degrees latitude North and South of the equator after all. Well, I was to find out during countless workshops, lectures, articles, books and meetings that the very coast I live on was thought to be the ideal environment for cacao and much like what Kona is for Coffee. From there I have been riding waves on a surf board that was just placed under my feet.
Aloha means Love
In another post I’ll tell the story about how the set up the Cacao orchard I now have finally came to be. For now, I will conclude with the reminder that Aloha means Love…and Chocolate should give good feelings all the way. It should give good, loving feels all the way from the cacao farmer to when the chocolate you got from your lover for Valentines, melts on your tongue. Don’t you think? In a nutshell, that is why I started Aloha Feels. Happy World Chocolate Day to all, now go a grab a really good quality, dark chocolate bar and enjoy your weekend.