It’s National Chocolate Week this week so thought I’d share a closer look at the original organic chocolate company available in the UK.
When an invitation to meet the founders of one of your favourite chocolate bars comes along, you don’t say no do you. And so I had the chance to spend a wonderful evening celebrating the 25th anniversary of Green & Black’s hosted by Craig Sams and Jo Fairley, the husband and wife team who founded the company in 1991.
Over the course of the evening, I had the chance to chat with the founders about how the company started and all the challenges faced, make my very own chocolate bar and tantalise my tastebuds with a chocolate and wine pairing. And did i mention there was chocolate. And more chocolate. Think died and gone to chocolate heaven.
The Green & Black’s Story
I have eaten many a Green & Black’s bar but beyond knowing that they are organic, I really had no idea what trailblazers they have been. Craig has been involved in healthy eating businesses and organic farming since the 60s. Jo, I knew as an acclaimed beauty journalist/author and had no idea she was the same person behind the chocolate company!
They are truly an inspirational pair. So much of what we now take for granted were revolutionary ideas not so long ago. Organic farming, fair trade, even dark eating chocolate was something that was not commercially available in UK shops.
So the name Green & Black’s? Invented by Jo to sound like an old established confectionary company. ‘Green’ for their organic principles and ‘Black’ for the darkness and sophistication of the chocolate, which when they launched in 1991 was the first 70% bar available on the High Street.
It’s always fascinating to be reminded how every new “superfood” and food trend is as old as time! Craig opened a macrobiotic restaurant in London and founded Whole Earth, one of the biggest manufacters of unprocessed sugar-free foods, back in the 60s; and a store specialising in seaweed in the 70s.
The 90s doesn’t seem that long ago but it seems to be light years away in terms of how the chocolate industry has improved ethically. Like many pleasurable and luxury goods, the exploitative manner in which the raw materials are sourced can sometimes leave a bitter taste.
Doing business ethically and sustainably was always part of Green & Black’s DNA. As a long time advocate of organic farming, organic cacao was a given. However they also wanted to ensure fair working conditions for the producers. A testament to their commitment is that the first ever Fairtrade product was actually their Maya Gold chocolate bar in 1994! The positive impact it has had on the environment, education and overall development in Belize is something the founders are justifiably proud off. And to think when I used Maya Gold in this cake recipe I had no idea what a game changer it was!
Better tasting chocolate for us to enjoy and better conditions for the producers to live and work in is win win. Green & Black’s way of doing business has had a ripple effect though out the chocolate industry with all the big manufacturers now changing their practices to some extent at least. Though Jo and Craig no longer own the business, they still maintain an advisory role.
Where all chocolate begins…..
Making My Own Green & Black’s Dark Chocolate Bar
We had the chance to make our own chocolate bars. I can’t resist salty and crunchy combinations so went for dark chocolate with sea salt, biscotti and almonds.
Green & Black’s Chocolate & Wine Pairing
Tastebuds got tantalised pairing chocolate with various wines and spirits. Japanese whisky was a surprisingly pleasing experience.
Get Your Willy Wonka On With the Silver Ticket Competition
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Green & Black’s is running a ‘Silver Ticket’ competition. 50 tickets are hidden inside Classic and Milk Miniature Collections, available in supermarkets nationwide. All 50 ticket finders will win a luxury chocolate hamper and be entered in to a draw to win one of 15 places (plus guest) for a VIP the choctastic day in London with all travel expenses paid.
For more information visit greenandblacks.co.uk