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Mott Green in NOTHING LIKE CHOCOLATE

Mott Green, who founded the Grenada Chocolate Company, the subject of the documentary “NOTHING LIKE CHOCOLATE,” directed by Kum-Kum Bhavnani, died on June 1 in Grenada. He was 47.

The NY Times is reporting that his mother, Dr. Judith Friedman, said he was electrocuted while working on solar-powered machinery for cooling chocolate during overseas transport.

Green was born David Friedman in Washington, and grew up on Staten Island in New York City. He later took Green as his surname to reflect his environmental interests.

As a child he built go-karts using lawn mower engines; he ran the New York City Marathon when he was 16; he dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania just months before graduation; and he spent much of his 20s squatting with a community of anarchists in abandoned homes in west Philadelphia, where he “rescued” food that restaurants had planned to throw away and distributed it to homeless people.

He eventually ended up in Grenada, an island he visited as a child when his mother, Dr. Sandor Friedman, the director of medical services at Coney Island Hospital, taught there each winter.

Mr. Green founded the Grenada Chocolate Company in 1999, under the slogan from “tree to bar.” Human rights advocates had criticized the treatment of small cocoa farmers, and Green set out to address these issues by dealing directly with small growers and by keeping the entires process including processing and packaging of chocolate within Grenada. 

A message on the filmmakers website reads: “Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company, died suddenly while working in his beloved chocolate workspace in Grenada on June 1, 2013. We miss you, Mott.”

Here is how the filmmakers, describe the film:

Deep in the rain forests of Grenada, anarchistchocolatier Mott Green seeks solutions to the problems of a ravaged global chocolate industry. Solar power, employee shareholding and small-scale antique equipment turn out delicious chocolate in the hamlet of Hermitage, Grenada. 

Finding hope in an an industry entrenched in enslaved child labor, irresponsible corporate greed, and tasteless, synthetic products, Nothing like Chocolate reveals the compelling story of the relentless Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company (GCC). [grenadachocolate.com]

Relocating from Oregon to Grenada in 1998, headstrong and driven, Mott Green set out to make chocolate, from the tree to the bar, using recycled antique equipment. Wondering “would we really learn how to make great chocolate?”, the neophyte entrepreneur leased 100 acres of land from a neighboring estate and established the Grenada Organic Chocolate Co-operative.

Within 5 years, the co-operative was producing 9 to 10 tons of local organic chocolate. Nothing Like Chocolate looks at this revolutionary experiment, focusing on how solar power, appropriate technology and activism merge to create a business whose values are fairness, community, sustainability and high quality. While Hersheys threatens to remove cocoa from chocolate, and can not guarantee slave-free cocoa in its chocolate, it is Mott Green and his friends, including calypso singer and lawyer Akima Paul, and Shadelle Nayack Compton, owner of the Belmont Estate, who defy all the odds. They insist that this worker co-operative is the model for the future: “We’re doing this for idealistic reasons: we are activists and our goal is to create a true worker-owned co-operative.”

Nothing Like Chocolate traces the continued growth of Mott’s co-operative, exposing the practices and politics of how chocolate has moved worldwide from a sacred plant to corporate blasphemy. Governments around the world, beholden to multi-nationals, sell cocoa for export at the best possible price. Industrial chocolate dominates taste buds and the market. Threatened by boutique producers, such as Grenada Chocolate Company, mega-companies work hard to buy up these small artisans, as Hersheys has done with Scharffenberger.

Confronted by the financial challenges of small-scale farming, Mott Green envisions a unique niche for exquisite organic chocolate in the global market, whose profits will come back to nourish the working shareholders.

With a suitcase full of chocolate bars, Mott boards a plane to persuade chocolate distributors in the UK and the USA that Grenada Chocolate Company makes the best chocolate in the world. 65,000 chocolate bars in stylish new packaging, stashed in air-conditioned storage, await their destiny.

How successful will this bold experiment be? The Grenada Chocolate Company produces less than 1% of the world’s chocolate, while at least 43% of cocoa beans come from Ivory Coast, where trafficked child labour is exploited to harvest cocoa. In the chocolate industry, Mott’s way of doing things – delicious chocolate, organics co-operatives, employment for local communities – is unusual.

From currency to candy, chocolate reflects a rich history saturated with sacred ritual, endorphin highs, hip anti-oxidants, exotic sensuality and high quality luxury. Nothing Like Chocolate adds new depth to the stories of chocolate.

via NYTimes

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