Meeting Divine Chocolate Cocoa Farmers, Christiana & Afriye

As the season turned to spring on the first of May, it came time for the Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade Trailblazers to once again don the great banana suit and conduct one final performance on fair trade to a energetic group of students at Media Elementary School.

The fantastic event, organized by Earth & State, invited fair trade Divine Chocolate farmers, Christiana Adusei and Afriye Kwesi Boateng, to discuss the cocoa farming process to all of us in Media. Let me tell you, all of us were amazed by the amount of hard work that went into harvesting cocoa!

As consumers, we only really get to see the neatly-packaged end product of hours and hours of painstaking labor. And so, meeting Christiana and Afriye in person and hearing their stories helped so much to bring the process alive; engaging in conversations with them about their lives humanized the great effort in producing a simple bar of chocolate.

The event made me realize that in this era of increased globalization and amazing technological advancements, communication is truly the key in making the world a more transparent and more moral place–one in which unethical labor practices cannot go unanswered.

Aimee and I performed the prelude to the event with a short dialogue. While Aimee had a basket of fair trade items that she enthusiastically showed off and explained to the crowd, I was dressed in a banana suit, telling the crowd of the story of the lives of bananas as they are farmed and, later, sold in the USA.

Overall, we had a wonderful time meeting so many amazing people in the local and national fair trade action team. It was an absolute privilege to talk to everyone from Divine Chocolate and Earth & State!

To learn more about Afriye and Christiana, check out the Media Fair Trade Committee’s May newsletter!

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern, Labanya Mookerjee.

2012- A Year to be Thankful

Although the year 2012 has not yet ended, the Fair Trade TrailBlazers of Penn State Brandywine have much to be thankful for this year.

We are thankful for our Penn State Brandywine community that supported us becoming a Fair Trade University.  Without our students, staff, faculty, and alumni taking the time to learn about Fair Trade and agreeing that Fair Trade is significant and important for us to connect with, we would not have been able to establish such a strong community of passionate people that are continuing to educate others and using their purchasing power to make a difference.

We are thankful for Hal Taussig and America’s First Fair Trade Town.  Would Fair Trade even be here without Hal pursuing the idea of bringing Fair Trade Towns to the USA?  Would we have any Fair Trade Towns without Media taking the first steps to gaining the approval?  Would we at Penn State Brandywine have even considered becoming a Fair Trade University if Media wasn’t a Fair Trade Town?  We thank those that are the true “trailblazers” for bringing Fair Trade to America.

We are thankful for the certifiers.  Yes, you may not all get along, but we appreciate the challenges you offer each other.  By keeping the conversation going, it keeps the Fair Trade discussion moving forward.  Fair Trade has come far, but there is still so much further to go.  All movements have growing pains, and we as a university value informative, detailed, constructive, and civil discussions of all sides of the issue of Fair Trade certification.

We are thankful for social media.  OK, so this item may not seem like it fits in with the rest of what we are thankful for.  But if it wasn’t for Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Flickr, etc., we would not have made our initial connections with Fair Trade Campaigns National Coordinator Billy Linstead Goldsmith, or Divine Chocolate’s Amanda White.  We would not be exchanging tweets with Alta Gracia or other Fair Trade supporters from literally across the globe.  Thank you, social media, for allowing our campus to be connected in a global conversation about Fair Trade.

Most importantly, we are thankful for the farmers and the makers of Fair Trade products.  For the people that give so much of themselves to produce food and crafts ethically sourced that benefits not only their communities but our entire planet Earth – thank you for your tireless, beautiful work.


Making Thanksgiving Desserts Fair Trade

Every year for Thanksgiving, my husband makes two desserts from scratch that he brings to the family Thanksgiving feast.  Fortunately, because he has been brought up to speed on the impact of his purchasing Fair Trade products, he didn’t blink at all at my suggestion he swap some of his standard ingredient purchases for Fair Trade food items.  One dessert was a White and Dark Chocolate Ice Box Cake (including Green & Black’s Organic White Chocolate and 72% Dark Baking Chocolate).  But here, I’d like to share his other creation.

Espresso-Chocolate Speckle Angel Food Cake

Espresso-Chocolate Speckle Angel Food Cake


1 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (he used Woodstock’s Organic Powdered Sugar)
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
12 large egg whites
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar (he used Wholesome Sweeteners Organic & Fair Trade Sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (he used Frontier Vanilla Flavor)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (unfortunately, we could not find any Fair Trade instant varieties!)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (he used Divine 85% Dark Chocolate), grated on the fine holes of a hand grater, or in a rotary grater
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted as a chocolate drizzle (again, Divine Chocolate)

STEP ONE:  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray (notice we used a cake pan with a cathedral design).

STEP TWO:  Sift the cake flour and confectioners’ sugar together onto a piece of waxed paper three times; set aside.

STEP THREE:  In the 4 and 1/2 quart bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, using the wire whip attachment, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat at high speed, adding the sugar gradually, until the whites are glossy and stiff, but not dry.  Add the vanilla and espresso powder and continue mixing until just incorporated.  Scrape the mixture into a large bowl.

STEP FOUR:  In three batches, resift the flour/sugar mixture over the whites and gently fold in with a large rubber spatula until just combined.  Gently fold in the grated chocolate until combined.  Scrape the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan.  Using a knife, loosen the cake form the pan.  Let sit on a cake rack for 5 minutes and invert onto another cake rack.  Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

STEP FIVE:  To garnish the cake, dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle the glaze over the top and sides of the cake.

STEP SIX:  Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

Divine Chocolate: empowering small farmers

I was excited for today’s speaker, Amanda White from Divine Chocolate, not only for the free samples our faculty adviser ordered for us (the toffee nut crunch is, well… divine!), but for the opportunity to engage in conversation with someone who is in the depths of this complex and valuable global movement.

After giving us the history of Kuapa Kokoo, the farming co-op in Ghana that began their own chocolate company in 1997, Amanda talked about the importance of the Fair Trade business model. Not only does it provide farmers with fair wages in the form of minimum prices for their cocoa plus a social premium, but it provides them with knowledge, power, and profits that enhance many areas of their lives.

Divine Chocolate seminar

Amanda White (Divine Chocolate) speaking at Penn State Brandywine, April 16, 2012 (via Fair Trade at Penn State Brandywine)

Empowering small farmers is at the root of the Fair Trade movement. Farmers learn more about their product by understanding the industry and having face-to-face communication with consumers, retailers, politicians, and activists. They have power over their own company by knowing exactly where their cocoa goes, how it’s handled and traded, and what contracts look like. With the knowledge and power that comes with owning their own chocolate company, farmers are swimming in profits that are not just monetary. The Fair Trade model gives farmers the ability the share in the profits they have helped create. So instead of using a lump of charity-donated money to build a school or a health clinic, their business practices allows for sustainability.

“It’s more than just a school or a health clinic,” Amanda shared with us. “It’s teachers and clinicians, too.”

Co-op farmers utilize this business model to build upon their profits. And with sustainable profit growth comes more knowledge, more power, and ultimately, the empowerment that the Fair Trade movement has set out to provide.

After her talk about Divine Chocolate (and a dozen or so chocolate bars later), Amanda fielded some questions and sat down with our committee to talk about the future of Fair Trade in the United States.

Amanda White and the Fair Trade TrailBlazers

Amanda White (Divine Chocolate) with the Fair Trade TrailBlazers, after her seminar on April 16, 2012 (via Fair Trade at Penn State Brandywine)

We talked about the many facets of the movement. Want to get involved? Study agricultural anthropology, economics, international business, nonprofit management, women’s studies, communications, environmental sustainability… the list goes on. Our conversation reminded me of what Billy Linstead Goldsmith of Fair Trade Towns USA said during a workshop at Temple University a few weeks back: “Fair Trade is kind of a meeting point of all the aspects of social justice.”

That is what makes me so invested in the movement. That is why I’m eager to continue learning about all that Fair Trade has to offer, about it’s successes and vulnerabilities, about finding a place and a voice in our society, and moving forward as a sustainable movement in our country, and ultimately, the world.

Many thanks to Amanda and Divine Chocolate for lending her to us on this beautiful spring day! Learn more about Divine Chocolate at

[View the story “Divine Chocolate speaks at Penn State Brandywine” on Storify, created from the live tweets during Amanda’s talk!]

Contributed by Sara Neville