Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Green Chocolate

Salon has an article about Grenada Chocolate Company, an eco-friendly, p.c. small producer of healthy dark chocolate. Here is an excerpt:
Edmond Brown, one of the owners of Grenada Chocolate, sits on a set of concrete steps outside of the factory. "I like making chocolate because I like the work," he says in a thick Grenadian accent, swatting at sand flies and stressing the last word to show his deepest respect for the human undertaking of doing something tangible with one's hands. He is a man who tends to speak only when there is something worth saying, yet Brown becomes animated when talking about chocolate, "the organic chocolate," as he calls it. His partner, Doug Browne, is a lanky, gentle 6-foot-7 giant, who now spends most of the year in rural Oregon. In the eyes of the islanders, Doug bears a striking resemblance to Jesus.
Mott Green completes the trio, and he is the talker, the dreamer, the man who first envisioned a Grenadian chocolate company. A sinewy American with a closely shaved head, Green lives in one small, spartan room in the corner of the factory, and exudes kinetic energy, as though he never sleeps. Originally from New York, he describes himself as an "ex-tourist instead of an expatriate." Green has lived in Grenada on and off for more than 20 years, whenever he wasn't hopping rail cars between his other bases in New York and Philadelphia squats or staying with friends in Oregon. It was in Oregon that Green and Browne met, and over the course of their friendship the two developed a taste for tinkering: transforming a Volkswagen squareback into an electric car and building a 20-foot-high solar steam generator, the remains of which reached up into the sky on Browne's Oregon farm for years after the experiment, like some alien communication device.
Browne, Green and Brown make an unlikely business team, with ambitious ideals about every step of production for their chocolate. But their dark (and darker) Grenada Chocolate bars -- 60 percent or 71 percent cacao content, no milk, no nuts, no fruit -- and Smilo cocoa powder are earning accolades. In 2006, they received a World Chocolate Award from London's Academy of Chocolate and were declared "the world's finest, and rarest, chocolate" in the Guardian. Within the company's first year of production, in 2001, they unexpectedly sold out in the Grenada market and since then have only been able to produce enough to meet limited distribution in the United States and Europe, through online outlets and in select shops.
But all that is changing. The co-owners are in the process of replacing their manufacturing infrastructure in order to increase the company's batch size from 45 kilos to 250 kilos. For now the Grenada Chocolate Co. may well be the smallest, most politically correct chocolate factory on earth. But does it have a future in a Hershey world?
IREJN is Connecticut's Interfaith Power and Light. Visit us at www.irejn.org.

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