Any way you look at it, February is a big time for the treat and it also just happens to be National Chocolate Month.
While chocolate originated in Central America, the majority of cacao (cocoa) beans harvested today are sourced out of Africa. Concerns over forced child labor in the country of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has socially conscious chocolatiers working to buy their beans from suppliers certified as Fairtrade by a number of different organizations.
"Customers are really looking for traceability in the products that they consume," said Brad Kintzer with TCHO Chocolates in San Francisco. "Fairtrade is a great system, but it doesn't necessarily deliver the quality that a company like THCO is looking for."
That's why TCHO has a team of people working directly with the farmers, training them to make their own chocolate with labs set up on the cocoa plantation property.
"Most cocoa farmers have never tried their own chocolate, and a lot of cocoa farmers have never tried chocolate at all, especially in places like West Africa," said Kintzer.
By teaching the farmers to create their own chocolate, an appreciation for what they're growing is developed and helps instill an understand of how their actions involving the crop directly influence the quality of the cocoa.
Kintzer says this helps the growers become better businessmen and women by "creating a greater diversity in their product line."