Co-op’s chocolate will be part of upcoming ‘Meltdown’

Calling all chocoholics: Chocolate Meltdown and More returns to Oxford on Saturday, Jan. 14.

The main event is at Oxford Community Arts Center (OCAC), from 1 to 5 p.m. Additional chocolate-themed activities are located around Uptown Oxford beginning at 11 a.m. Hence the addition of “and More” to the title of the event this year.

Start your chocolate day at Oxford’s Farmers Market, which continues every Saturday morning through the winter. A few intrepid local growers have figured out how to keep us in fresh produce this time of year.

MOON Co-op will be in the OCAC ballroom as one of the chocolate vendors (13 signed up as of this writing). MOON Co-op will feature chocolate from Equal Exchange.

Equal Exchange is a producer-owned co-op founded in Massachusetts in 1986 by several former managers of food co-ops (such as MOON) in New England. The 100+ employees each own identical shares of the company and receive equal shares of profits.

Equal Exchange co-op in turn sources its cacao beans from grower-owned co-ops in Latin America. The beans are organically grown and certified Fair Trade.

The guarantee of organic and Fair Trade is especially important, because U.S. government and United Nations studies report that much of the world’s cacao beans are harvested by children subjected to human trafficking, exposure to hazardous conditions, dangerous working conditions, and outright slavery. The major international chocolate companies look the other way, claiming they can’t do anything about it.

MOON Co-op and its co-op partners actually do something about the scandalous conditions in the chocolate industry. The chocolate that MOON Co-op offers passes from grower co-ops, certified to be producing and trading in a socially responsible manner, to a producer-owned co-op, and then to MOON, a consumer-owned co-op.

The chocolate from Equal Exchange is about as intensely “chocolaty” as our taste buds can tolerate. The percentage of cacao ranges from a low of 55% to a high of 92%. In comparison, a Hershey’s bar contains only around 11% cacao, not to mention a number of unspecified chemical additives.

Equal Exchange chocolate contains only 3 ingredients: cacao, sugar and vanilla. The organic cacao beans are sourced from small-scale farmers organized into cooperatives mostly in Peru. The organic raw cane sugar comes from Manduvira co-op, the first farmer-owned sugar mill in Paraguay. The organic vanilla beans come from a co-op in Madagascar.

Chocolate Meltdown and More also includes a chocolate-themed art show in OCAC. The Art Committee accepted my painting titled Chocolate Farm, which includes chocolate moose, chocolate mole, chocolate bunnies and more. Apologies for the bad puns.

I look forward to seeing many of you at Chocolate Meltdown and More. Stop by the MOON Co-op table, say hi, sample our awesome chocolates, and take some home. Let me convince you to try some 92% cacao. For a chocoholic, it’s the ultimate treat!

Organic Fair Trade chocolate is available at MOON Co-op, Oxford’s consumer-owned full-service grocery, featuring natural, local, organic, sustainable, and Earth-friendly products. The store, located at 516 S. Locust St. in Oxford, is open to the public every day. Visit MOON online at

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