Theo Chocolate


Brightening Up Chocolate’s Dark Side | 

Joe Whinney and Theo Chocolate factory
Tom Paulson

Welcome to the Humanosphere podcast, our weekly look back at the world of global health and development. This week we discuss the Obama administration’s new foreign budget proposal, plus Madonna’s celebrity philanthropy gone awry in Malawi.

But our focus is on the delicious dark sweetness we call chocolate – how’s it made, who makes it, where it comes from, and the ethics or lack thereof behind it.

Joe Whinney, founder and President of Seattle’s own Theo Chocolate, gave us the lowdown. Whinney is an industry veteran who bore witness to the extreme poverty and abusive business practices suffered by cocoa farmers in the Global South. In 2006, Whinney founded his own chocolate company with a commitment, he says, to organic and fair trade chocolate that equitably compensates farmers and their families.

We had some questions: Are corporate social responsibility programs actually accomplishing any good? What does “fair trade” certification really mean? What about labor practices in Theo’s Seattle factory? How can consumers drive ethical business practices? And what does the future of chocolate look like?

Whinney doesn’t mince words. Listen to find out.

Produced by Ansel Herz.

How to avoid the dark (chocolate) side on Valentine’s Day | 

Flickr, Bob Fornal

“Everybody loves chocolate.”

That’s the first line of a documentary film called “The Dark Side of Chocolate” in which the film-makers investigate the use of child laborers, slave laborers, on cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast where 42 percent of the world’s chocolate production is managed by four leading international corporations.

Using a (sometimes hidden) camera, these journalists interview child traffickers in Africa, representatives of leading chocolate makers and government officials to document the ongoing abuses.

“It moves you to tears,” said Joe Whinney, founder and owner of Seattle’s Theo Chocolate, which bills itself as the only organic, fair trade “bean-to-bar” chocolate manufacturer in the U.S. Continue reading

Using chocolate to fight poverty: Tastes great … makes enemies. | 

Tom Paulson

Joe Whinney and Theo Chocolate factory

I just spent a few days hanging out with all sorts of humanitarians at two local meetings that illustrate just how big a player this region has become in the fight against global poverty.

It made me think of chocolate. Continue reading