A philosophy can not be summed up in a slogan or an advertising hook, I will allow myself here to develop the reflections which are at the origin of this project.
RESPECT is the starting point, the basis of my philosophy.
I think that respect must be a sine qua non condition at the origin of any project.
What are the actions that come into play in the production of chocolate? And what are the direct and indirect consequences to take into consideration to ensure the production of a respectful and respectable chocolate? A quick list of the elements to be respected would be: the Earth, the farmers, the chocolate makers, the consumers. I will then introduce other elements.
I am often called an extremist. Yes, thank you, that’s right. I am for extreme respect and extreme common sense. Do not stop in the middle of an idea, but go all the way! Do not just hit my neighbor a bit but do not hit him at all…
The Earth being our home to all, without exception, like a huge common house, it seems logical to respect it. If we break a piece of wall here and a part of framework by there, without repairing the damage, it is our comfort to all who is in danger, even our survival because damage after damage there is a threat of collapse. To avoid the double effort: that of breaking then that of rebuilding, it is easier not to affect the Earth and to respect it as it is. Especially since unlike a house, the Earth does not require any maintenance, it is autonomous to keep itself in good condition, provided not to affect its natural functioning.
Cocoa must therefore come from a non-destructive farming, called organic farming. I’m not talking here just about the organic label, which does not by itself ensure the farmer’s good intentions towards the Earth. Indeed, a farmer certified organic can participate in destroying the Earth, and conversely a farmer not labeled organic can very well have non-destructive biological practices. Respect goes much further than just a label.
By the way, why was the BIO label invented, should not we instead introduce a NON BIO (or NON-RESPECTFUL) label, which would be fee-based and mandatory. The amount of the fee would correspond to the cost of cleaning up poisons used, land recovery after use for future generations, and participation in social security costs for the health problems generated? We would soon realize that organic products are cheaper… much better, right? Indeed, all these costs that result from non-respectful agriculture, are nowadays the responsibility of all, through taxes, social charges and health problems. What a great lesson for our children: Theft is encouraged and lucrative, and even called CONVENTIONAL.
My vision of a respectful agriculture is the absence of use of any product of synthesis, without exception, the respect of the ground (its nature and the life which composes it) as well as the respect of the local biodiversity (fauna and flora). All these elements, when they are respected, work for the Earth and its inhabitants (including the human being, who persists in domesticating and controlling his entire environment, wasting energy for very negative results).
I would have been treated as an extremist a few years ago, I dare to hope that respectful agriculture, called organic, no longer shocks today.
Farmers (employers and employees) also deserve respect. Slavery is unfortunately still relevant today. A few hundred years ago, wanting to give rights to a slave would have been considered madness, even terrorism. Today, fortunately, people who have stood up for the abolition of slavery have gone from being terrorists to being heroes. How to explain that a cocoa farmer earns only 1% of a chocolate maker’s salary? Does he work less hard? Is it not a cooperation?
Again a label HARVESTED BY SLAVES, or HARVESTED BY UNDER-PAID MEN should exist! There is trade, called fair trade, which provides so-called fair revenues. Let’s analyze this a bit. A work day will bring the farmer an income of the order of one euro. The remuneration of other stakeholders (carrier, processor, chocolatier, distributor, consumer, fair trade controller,…) will be of the order of one hundred euros. The so-called fair trade provides a little better income to farmers, say on average, no more than double, which is good you say… but far from what I would call equitable. I would call it « little less unfair trade ».
It is widely accepted that a person living in a so-called developed or northern country needs a higher income than a person living in a so-called third world or southern country.
Indeed in the northern countries, spending is higher: housing, car, education, health … than in the southern countries. It would therefore make sense that incomes are also higher. But in fact, if we really compare, a car of equivalent quality is often much more expensive in the southern countries, the same for housing, education, health,… It is actually just accepted that the comfort of life is tied to the standard of the country, so that a southerner does not need the same comfort as a northerner. Is it fair? My concept of comfort is far from what is considered standard in the northern countries, I would need much less (or say different), so I will not go into the debate about what should be the level of comfort, but at least let everyone have the freedom to choose for themselves. If we allow ourselves a certain income, can we agree to give our southern colleagues 100 times less? I am not in favor of a strict control system, which would spend (waste) a lot of human energy, but at least that the benefits of the cocoa trade should be distributed more equitably and according to the work provided, and not according to the geographic or hierarchical position of the work provided.
It also seems important to me to point out that a large number of slave children have been observed coming from kidnappers who trafficked children in West African cocoa-producing countries. This is a repugnant practice, to be banned altogether, but which, in my opinion, is the result of the price forcing down by the giants of cocoa trade and processing, which operate quasi monopoly on the market and therefore have the opportunity to set prices as they please.
To stop slavery, it would redistribute this monopoly to an infinity of small artisans, in direct contact with farmers to organize a trade respectful of all, without possibility (nor willingness) of blackmail.
I will quickly pass on the respect of chocolate makers, I will just say that like farmers, they deserve good working conditions and income according to the work provided and energy spent, rather than according to the stock market and the « competition », by the way, I dream that this word is transformed one day in cooperation. Competition might help to push some people to give the best of what they can, but from a global point of view, it is very inefficient because this is a waste of human energy : different people with the same goal are working against each other to become the first or the best, when they could achieve so much more by sharing and working hand in hand.
This brings us to the respect for the other chocolate makers. By doing low quality and/or cheap products, we impact the perception of the whole chocolate world. By doing cheap products, it lowers the global value of chocolate. Too cheap products are becoming the standart, the reference. A normal priced product is then called expensive when it’s supposed to be the reference if we wish to live in a fair world. Large retailers champions at pushing producers to sell them their products at a very low price, giving them the opportunity to sell a larger amount. The same happens with the quality, as low quality chocolate is now the standart. Respecting the other chocolate makers means to me giving the fair price, doing high quality products and refuse to sell throught large retailers.
Respect for the consumer is the result of this whole chain of respect. The Earth being respected, will give the best to the farmer, who is also respected will do his best to produce the best quality of cocoa possible for the chocolate maker, who also being respected will do the same to produce the best chocolate to, at the end, delight the consumer, who will enjoy a healthy chocolate, good and full of love, that will be gracefully given back to the Earth after good use. The cycle is complete.
To this I would add the crucial step of importing. As cocoa is an exotic fruit, growing only around the equator, we therefore resort to the transport of goods over long distances. Nowadays, it is common practice to import almost everything we eat, food or otherwise. Each region of the globe specializes in production to meet the demands of the rest of the world. This results in an infernal and continual coming and going of all sorts of goods traveling thousands of kilometers before reaching their destination. We come to bring from the other side of the world what we already have on the spot. This is often due to the difference in the price of labor between different regions of the world. A certain amount of working hours + transportation over several thousand kilometers cost less than the same amount of local working hours without transportation. It doesn’t make any sense to me. We come back to the above: do not allow disproportionately higher incomes to our partners in the rest of the world (or in other words: do not allow us to compensate the work of our partners disproportionately less than ours), and this problem will be from the past. Locating the production of what we can, and keeping the imports only for products impossible to produce locally, and consider these products as luxury products. This is exactly the case with cocoa. The current means of transport are very harmful for our environment. By locating production, it is quite possible to reduce imports / exports to a fraction of what they are today. For the rest, nothing is better than the wind, clean and inexhaustible energy, to move the goods on long trips at sea. The sailboat is the solution that seems to me the most suitable for the transport of cocoa.
I would like to finish on a very important point in my eyes. I’m talking about a sensitive subject. Surely as sensitive, if not more than the abolition of human slavery a few hundred years ago. All the more sensitive because these are traditions that have not been questioned until now, and therefore accepted by all as normal since childhood, as an integral part of our society and of ourselves. It is not uncommon for a tradition to justify horrors, as we have observed in all periods of history. At each period its challenges. We are no longer burning witches, racism and sexism are not what they used to be, plastic is starting to make people talk and people are starting to get rid of it. I fully understand this mechanism that drives us to protect traditions. We are products of our traditions, how to question a whole life? How to question entire generations, centuries, millennia of traditions? I have a regret with the traditions: it is that the practices are transmitted, but not the reasons which are at their origins. We therefore have no choice but to accept them by forced and unconscious practice since birth. If we would focus as much in transmitting the history of tradition as the practice of tradition itself, then we would have a real free will to accept the acceptable and reject the unacceptable.
This subject that I want to talk about is that of the condition of our cohabitants on Earth: the rest of the animal world; whose living conditions depend mainly on the human will. They became submissive beings with no self-determination of their lives. I wish for myself to be free and independent, not to be the private property of anyone. In the same way, I wish it to all, human or not. Human is almost omnipresent on Earth, everything is organized to serve its function, without the knowledge of other living beings.
So to the other respects stated above I would add respect for animals. In the manufacture of chocolate, this involves the exclusive use of plant based products, so as not to be involved in the massacre or slavery of innocent people who have done nothing wrong and do not deserve their deprivation of freedom or even the death penalty.
I’m aware that the tradition of eating, killing and using animals for the pleasure of our taste buds is firmly rooted in our traditions. But for all animals, I hope that in the near future these traditions will be considered as prehistory.
From a purely egoistic point of view, and to the dismay of the pharmaceutical industry, the abolition of this slavery would lead to a revival of vitality and a much better public health. So in addition to saving tens of billions of animal deaths, we would save millions of sick and premature human deaths, as well as all the health costs they incur.