Chocolate can be an environmental and ethical disaster when produced by "big chocolate" (sorry to coin an expression if no one else has yet, but like other commodities, when giant companies get involved, greed often wins out over everything). On the other hand, if it is produced by small and connected groups of people, it can be part of an environmentally friendly and ethical industry. The cacao trees themselves are shade trees and in the Philippines are generally grown in companionship with other crops like bananas or coconuts and so provide an environmentally friendly crop. Unfortunately, we usually hear about the Amazon or African rainforests being cut down to produce a mono-crop, which does not need to be the case. Discussion of the treatment of the farm workers in those mono-crop situations is another equally important issue for another time.
Within a few days, I heard Richard Wolacks's interview with Vince (one of 4 partners at Kasama Chocolates and the Philippine connection that got their enterprise started) on the Vanfoodster podcast and an interview with Rowan Jacobsen about the ethics of chocolate on the podcast Climavores. Armed with all that newfound and dangerous knowledge, I was thrilled to see that Kasama would be participating in the Greater Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival and that their offerings would be vegan! I love it when a plan comes together and this wasn't even a plan!