Follow the Frog Week – Bissinger’s Offers Eco-Conscious Chocolate

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Look for the frog before you buy! (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

As part of Follow the Frog Week, the chocolate company Bissinger’s is participating by trying to educate people on responsible chocolate-shopping and sustainable choices.  We caught up with Mark Ebling, Bissinger’s Vice President, and we asked him about what sustainablity means to them.

What is *Follow the Frog Week*?

As we live in a world where food is becoming increasingly industrialized and not all farming practices are environmentally and socially responsible, this is an opportunity for people to become more aware of sustainable and ethical practices in farming behind certain foods that are available. The Rainforest Alliance frog seal is a certification that the designated ingredients were from a farm that engages in sustainable and ethical practices. In order for a farm to be Rainforest Alliance Certified they must meet standards of ecosystem conservation, wildlife conservation, and maintain fair treatment and good working conditions.

Why did Bissinger’s want to get involved with this campaign?

The people at Bissinger’s share the values of Rainforest Alliance. Bissinger’s has a 350 year history – we know sustainability and social responsibility matters. The Rainforest Alliance has trainers and auditors that spend time on small family farms teaching best practices and working to improve the lives of the people, environment and wildlife. They also maintain a custody trail providing traceability from the source to bar.  We are proud to be a part of that commitment and believe people should understand how their purchases can affect people around the world.

What does the common chocolate consumer not realize about where the ingredients for their chocolate are coming from?

It’s important to know who grows your cocoa and that they are following ethical and sustainable practices.

How can they change their habits to be more aware of what they are buying?

Look for the frog – the Rainforest Alliance Certification.
What steps does Bissinger’s take to see that they are more conscious of issues of fair trade?

For us, it goes beyond fair trade. We choose to know who grows the cocoa we are using. We make conscious choices to support Rainforest Alliance Certified farmers. This provided assurances to us and the consumer.

What was it about this particular issue that interested you personally?

In many ways it’s a small planet. I want to feel good about supporting people that are committed to practices that are good for the environment, wildlife, and the people who work on the farm.

What can people expect from the workshops like the one you held at Whole Foods in Venice earlier today?

A better understanding of why they should ask

  • Who grows your cocoa?
  • Why all chocolate isn’t equal?
  • What makes some chocolate real food and others “candy”.

In the end they should walk away with an overall understanding of the many people and steps from the farm to a chocolate bar.

What do you hope they walk away understanding?

How their choices affect the many people that are working to support social and environmental responsibility.