Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The holiday season is in full-swing, which means that some among us will take advantage of the spirit of the season to scarf down larger-than-normal quantities of candy. Much of it will be chocolate.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that (a reminder for myself as much as you, dear reader).
But as you enjoy your favorite treat, one Pennsylvania candy-maker also wants you to remember that your candy bar started life as a crop, which comes with all sorts of economic and environmental impacts.
“When people start to realize that chocolate—candy—is actually a fruit, [you] start to think about the farming and the labor and the intensity that goes into it,” Jeff Abella, the co-founder and CEO of Moka Origins, a chocolatier and coffee company in Bethany, Wayne County, told the local River Reporter newspaper recently.
Moka Origins is one around 150 craft chocolate companies nationwide, the newspaper.
And just like your local microbrewer or microdistillery, the ingredients make all the difference in the world. Chocolate, as you probably know, starts with beans, which means someone has to grow them and pick them. And how that happens and how those workers are treated is a very big deal for many of those craft chocolate firms.
“We should start to realize that the true value of cocoa needs to take into consideration how much it costs farmers to grow and the income they need to earn to not live in poverty,” Abella told the newspaper.
While the company is based in northeastern Pennsylvania, its namesake farm is on the other side of the globe in Cameroon, Africa, according to the River Reporter.
Abella and a colleague founded the farm in 2015 while working in the region on humanitarian projects. The Pennsylvania branch opened in 2016, the newspaper reported.
The goal, according to the River Reporter, is to disrupt a production system dominated by massive companies that’s rife with environmental and human rights violations. The company asks its customers to pay a bit more for its products, but that’s intended to make sure workers and farmers are treated justly — a sentiment that tends to resonate during the festive season.
“We’re not here to give aid to farmers,” Abella told the newspaper. “What we’re here to do is establish partnerships where we’re just paying fairly for their beans and ultimately sustainably growing their economic outcome, and the more people we can get aware of that the better.”
There’s an effort afoot, driven by Pennsylvania public school students, to make the iconic Hershey’s Kiss the official state candy. But as Stephen Caruso reports, lawmakers whose districts include other, equally storied Keystone State confectioners would like to have a word. It is, in its own way, the perfect civics lesson.
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said Monday. Stephen Caruso has the details.
The new COVID-19 omicron variant is ‘not a cause for panic,’ President Joe Biden said Monday. Capital-Star Washington Reporter Laura Olson has what you need to know.
The U.S. Interior Department has called for oil and gas leasing updates, but not ending production, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jacob Fischler writes.
In today’s edition of Helping the Helpers, our partners at the Uniontown Herald-Standard tell you about the work of Fayette County’s court-appointed special advocates, who are charged with helping kids in need.
And our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper have six ways Pittsburghers can help their neighbors this holiday season.
The Philadelphia Gay Mens’ Chorus will hold its first in-person concerts in two years starting this week, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.
On our Commentary Page this morning, columnist Michael Coard says the guilty verdict for Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers is a start, but now it’s time to get rid of the slavery-era citizen’s arrest laws that legalize lynching. And Pell yes, the government should boost the federal grant money made available to American college students, opinion regular John A. Tures writes.
In Philadelphia, broken streetlight complaints have more than tripled, and some neighborhoods are darker than ever, the Inquirer reports.
In a public Q&A, Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Ed Gainey talked about policing and other issues, the Tribune-Review reports.
Pennsylvania lawmakers will see their pay rise by $5,000 in the coming year, thanks to an inflation-driven, cost-of-living adjustment. It’s the biggest increase in nearly 25 years, PennLive reports.
LancasterOnline does a ride-along with a Pennsylvania game warden.
Pennsylvania’s share of the opioid settlement can be used to fund drug addiction treatment, Attorney General Josh Shapiro says. The Morning Call has the story.
Dozens of firefighters battled a blaze at a Lackawanna County meat-processing plant, the Times-Tribune reports (paywall). Thankfully, there were no injuries.
After Councilmember Bobby Henon’s bribery conviction, Philadelphia City Council will consider limits on outside employment, WHYY-FM reports.
States and cities are running out federal rental assistance money, the Associated Press reports (via WITF-FM).
GoErie chats with Erie Art Museum Director Laura Domencic.
Stateline.org looks at the new and aggressive tactics that robocallers are using to avert state laws.
The Guardian details what America would look like if Roe v. Wade were overturned and access to abortion reverts to the state. The picture is not a pretty one — and Pennsylvania could be among the most restrictive.
Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:
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What Goes On
11:30 a.m., Capitol Media Center: The state Department of Human Services holds a news conference to talk about programs that can help people during the winter months.
Gov. Tom Wolf does an 8:07 a.m. interview on KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh this morning. At 4 p.m, he heads to Annapolis, Md., for a National Governors Association panel on implementing the new federal infrastructure funding.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept
Best wishes go out this morning to April Hutcheson, spokesperson for state Auditor General Tim DeFoor, who celebrates today. Congratulations, and enjoy the day.
Here’s one from Manchester Orchestra to get your Tuesday morning rolling. It’s the lovely ‘Telepath.’
Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
Calgary edged out the Penguins 2-1 in a dramatic, seven-round shootout on Monday night. The red-hot Flames are 6-1-1 in their last eight games.
And now you’re up to date.
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