Five years ago Michael Sacco and Graham Corbett showed up in Oaxaca, Mexico with an idea for a solar coffee roaster that would be "useful and profitable". They built solar concentrator based on the designs of Canadian inventor Fraser Symington and started trying to roast coffee and chocolate. Coffee was tough and competitive, so they started working with local cacao growers- "Their dream is to to improve the lives of their families by adding value to their products, while at the same time setting an example for neighbouring villages" Thus started the ChocoSol project. Its vision: -To invite and delight people with a delicious and nutritious product line.
-To address current problems relating to ecology, inequality, and interculturality in fun, educational and interactive ways.
-To co-move and spread these learning and re-search models horizontally, to promote sustainability so that many people can benefit from these opportunities, techniques, technologies, unique products, and creative work from which a dignified living can be made.
Michael and Graham then set about building a market, and moved back to Toronto. They are opening a store on Valentines day, the first of an "artisanal chocolate network," based on principles of sustainable trade:
We will only be importing durable goods that cannot be grown locally.
We are committed to keeping food miles to a minimum.
We support communities and individuals, not large corporations.
Our products are ecological, artisanal scale, natural and durable
We are also committed to the promotion of artisanal techniques and technologies that encourage healthy eating through local fresh production.
"For us this is not a mere business or social enterprise," said Michael Sacco. [at Trent University] "It is a lifestyle and life choice. It is a calling and, at the same time, an experiment. We call it the ChocoSol project, but more than anything it is about the relationships and work that we have with a group of friends that stretch between Chiapas and Ontario, and then all throughout cyberspace as far as India and Brazil. We are not entrepreneurs, we are antrepreneurs and our definition of sustainability is one much different from what that term usually refers to."
According to the National Post, "Mr. Sacco and fellow chocolatier Graham Corbett are so serious about the store's ecological integrity that they have built a bicycle powered grinder for the beans."
"I wouldn't call us activists but actionists," Mr. Sacco said. "We just want to do work, you know, that is meaningful, dignified and will pay the bills." Its not just a store, its a movement.
::Chocosol, 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto. If you have 148 meg to spare, watch the powerpoint show. The movie is interesting too.