I am a city* girl. I was born in the city and I grew up there. Provincial life was only revealed in short bursts during summer, but these short sojourns never failed to leave me hungry for more. I’ve always wanted to stay longer and dreaded the return back to the city (or more likely dreaded going back to school). So I guess it came as no surprise when I’ve decided to turn my back to the city and sought livelihood elsewhere. I tried staying in the mountains–citified, but nonetheless, it was different–then I tried my luck in the island (of Boracay), then I found my heart in working with the fields: rice fields, to be very precise.
The best part about working with the farmers and these rural communities is the sheer wealth of knowledge I gain from them. Of course, working and living in the city has its own phenomenological lifeworld that requires a familiarity with its logic and systems. Coming from the city, this is no longer something that fascinates because it is so intrinsic (although that which is intrinsic or mundane is fascinating in its own way) and uniform. In the province, the ways of living are so diverse and the landscapes–don’t even get me started with the myriad of vistas I’ve seen. I took many photos but none that do justice to being there physically.
Anyway, enough waxing poetic and I’ll get to the point: the photo of the fruit above is where chocolates come from. Yes, I repeat: this fruit is where chocolate comes from. Epiphany: chocolate grows on trees and they come from fruit like these and you eat the fleshy parts (tastes a bit sour and sweet, kind of similar to mangosteen) surrounding the seeds then you clean and dry the seeds then you roast the seeds then you ground the seeds then you get pure chocolate. I love chocolate, but I never really thought of wondering where chocolate comes from apart from knowing which grocery or store sells the good kind.
Today, some chocolates are being sold with the tag of “fair trade” or the Rainforest Alliance certification. Well, why is this important to know? Chocolate, like ALL of our food, are produced by the agricultural industry. Millions of farmers all over the globe produce the food that we have on our plates and sustain us for all our days. Chocolate requirement of the world is massive (billions of dollars in the global market) mainly because it is such a well-loved product (not an expert opinion). In some parts of the world, slavery is a reality–especially those of young children (for more information, read this) because of chocolate. Fortunately, this reality can change if you support those chocolate producers who source their raw materials from fair trade.
Better yet, go to an ordinary farmer and buy their chocolate tablets for the same price you would pay for store-bought chocolates. I guarantee that not only will you get a better product, you will also help them out. Let’s do our share in the quest of getting better chocolates in a better world!
* When I refer to “city”, I mean the Metropolitan Manila, or the National Capital Region, of the Philippines.