On this same occasion, we had a chance to chat with founder Craig Sams and his wife Jo Fairley.
Craig Sams, Celine Ruben-Salama & Jo Fairley.
Following a 1991 vacation to Belize the duo sampled a local drink flavored with cocoa beans and spices made by Mayan farmers. Inspired by the taste and aroma of the rainforests, they decided to recapture their essence in Green & Black's Maya Gold chocolate — a blend of intense dark chocolate with a refreshing twist of orange, perfectly balanced by the warmth of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Green & Black's introduced the Maya Gold flavor in 1993. Once it was established, the Fairtrade Foundation reviewed and awarded it the Fairtrade Mark in 1994, declaring that it "exceeded their requirements to qualify for the mark." It was the first product to be awarded such a distinction in the UK. "We knew we were on to something," said Jo, "when our grand-daughter proclaimed - I need more of this stuff - after sampling the chocolate for the first time."
Most of the chocolate is bought from the Conocado Cooperative in The Dominican Republic (registered with TransFair and certified under the USDA National Organic program (NOP), by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)). Unlike plantation-grown cocoa, Green & Black's farmers grow their beans under the shade of the indigenous rainforest trees alongside other crops like avocado, pineapple, coffee, papaya and bananas. A canopy of shade trees — mahogany, cedar and teak — are grown above, and ginger is occasionally grown underneath. This biodiversity means that the cocoa is more resistant to disease and the crops are not sprayed, so the river water stays clean, which helps preserve the habitat for wildlife.
TreeHugger Kyeann Sayer and Anne Hettinger of Gominyc
I had a nice chat with Craig about ongoing mangrove and corral reef conservation efforts in the area and he promised to share video footage from their upcoming visit to the cocoa plantations later this spring with us TreeHuggers! :: Green & Black's