Love locks, ethical chocolate and other Valentine’s Day tidbits

Saying it with a padlock at the Corkstown Pedestrian Bridge in Ottawa. Photo: Lucy Martin

Saying it with a padlock at the  Somerset Street Pedestrian Bridge in Ottawa. Photo: Lucy Martin

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, depending on how you feel about so-called Hallmark holidays, or where you live. As reported by CNN:

Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry has designated northern Georgia a “NO VALENTINES DAY ZONE” in a post on the department’s Facebook page Wednesday night.

Men are “exempt from having to run out and buy lottery scratchers and Hershey bars from the corner stores until February 18, 2014, due to ice, snow, freezing rain,” the tongue-in-cheek post said.

It’s all in fun. But rescheduling the festival of lovers to Tuesday would give the ice storm-battered region time to get roads back to normal and make Valentine’s a safer affair.

Even in good weather, it’s not always pleasant when everyone tries to have an extra special occasion, all at once. I spent 14 years working at various restaurants. That includes haunting memories of welcoming shell-shocked customers on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s who had spent hours waiting for their table. Lucky me got to let them know the kitchen had run out of lobster and prime rib. Let’s just say I prefer to eat out on different dates.

Giving chocolate may seen safe and easy. Unless you’re the ethical type who doesn’t want their clothes made in sweatshops or their chocolate produced by human trafficking and exploited children. That’s the message from some human rights groups, according to this from the CBC:

As Canadians indulge themselves on this annual day of chocolate consumption (or Valentine’s Day as it’s known in some circles), World Vision is urging consumers to buy ethically certified, child labour-free treats.

The non-profit organization is reintroducing its Good Chocolate Guide, a list of fair trade chocolate companies to help Canadians make more informed purchases.

The cocoa industry has long been plagued with revelations of human trafficking and child labour abuses. Global criticism has pushed a number of major companies to commit to sourcing only ethical, child labour-free chocolate by 2020, including the Hershey Company and Italian confectioner Ferrero.

So, is there a way to make a statement of love that harms no-one and can stand the test of time? In Ottawa, some are putting a lock on their love with personalized padlocks affixed to the Corktown Footbridge, which traverses a scenic section of the Rideau Canal.

The Ottawa Citizen’s Jakob Kuzyk found out how that works, as illustrated by comments from someone at Multi Arms Security, a store on near-by Bank Street:

“It’s insane with people coming in to buy locks,” said the store’s locksmith and manager, Tyler Black.

He said spring and summer are high-season for love locks.

There are telltale signs when people are buying one, too. They will be flat-surfaced for engraving, and brass or aluminum so they can stand up to the weather, he said. They’ll last hundreds of years, even outside, Black said. If they tarnish or wear he said they can easily be polished to look new again.

Popular, yes. But you can see how this could get out of hand! Photo: Lucy Martin

Popular, yes. But you can see how this could get out of hand! Photo: Lucy Martin

Mind you, the practice apparently involves throwing the padlock keys into the canal. Which totally flunks the litter-bug/environmentalist test. Surprisingly, officials in Ottawa don’t seem to mind the popular fad, even though cities like Vancouver and Toronto reportedly take a dimmer view and cut offending padlocks off.

Or you could just get some ethically-sourced ingredients and print up a valentine, as detailed in this article and video: “What says love this Valentine’s Day better than an edible muscle car?

However you mark the day – if you do – here’s to love!

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