NUTRITIONAL & FUN FACTS ABOUT COCOA:
Cocoa is one of the most nutrient dense foods growing on our planet. It is full of antioxidants, the most powerful of which in cocoa are called flavonoids (the very same type of antioxidant found in red wine and green tea). The job antioxidants have in your body is to combat damaging free radicals in your cells and tissue. Destroying free radicals mean that you are protecting your body against aging, cancer, heart & vascular diseases as well as reducing inflammation in your body. What that all means is that your body is a happier, more efficient, healthier place when you eat foods like Cocoa. Please, go ahead, eat your chocolate!
Did You Know? Fun facts about cocoa:
- 70% of our world's chocolate comes from West Africa
- Cocoa beans grow in pods on the cacao tree
- Each pod contains about 40 beans; it takes approximately 500 beans to make one chocolate bar
- Many farmers growing and cultivating cocoa have never actually tasted a chocolate bar
- Rumor has it that if we don't address the challenges facing our ability to grow cacao trees, chocolate could face extinction by 2020
DIFFICULTIES FACING CACAO (COCOA):
Chocolate is one of the most loved foods on earth. It is rich, indulgent, creamy; every layer of heaven. But, because we all love chocolate and want it in any and all forms, what does that high demand mean for our supply?
Chocolate (Cocoa) is grown on the cacao tree 10-20 degrees north or south of the equator in a tropical climate that thrives on ecological diversity. Within many of these regions where cocoa is grown and harvested, various issues including: climate change, plant disease, civil strife, drug lands and deforestation are impacting the sustainability of this valued crop. As a result, cocoa is teetering on a delicate tightrope of survival. 70% of our world's cocoa is produced in West Africa, where growers are facing almost, if not all of these threats to growing cacao. Children are forced into slave-labor, farmers are practicing slash and burn strategies to attempt to maximize their output, but destroying the lands at the cost of meeting demand. Cacao trees are highly susceptible to disease, so if disease hits West Africa, it will spread like wild fire and restrict farmers ability to produce cacao at all, and that threat is very real.
If changes are not made, and implemented quickly, we will be facing a world where chocolate is more precious than caviar and maybe unattainable for us all.
GIVE WHERE YOU TAKE GIVING:
Now that you’re picturing a world without chocolate, let’s talk about what can and is being done to prevent this.
At the same time that chocolate is being mass produced and our demand is soaring, there is a bean to bar/artisanal chocolate movement gaining huge amounts of momentum. Artisanal chocolate makers are making small batch chocolate using the purest of ingredients and are sourcing their beans directly from growers. The chocolate tastes nothing like anything you have ever had before. It is rich with subtleties of flavors that change with each origin of bean and journey it takes from bean to bar. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to the flavor of each batch of chocolate from the soil where it is grown to the number of hours chocolate is conched in the factory. Much like wine, chocolate is developing a growing crowd of people who do taste testings of pure chocolates from artisanal makers and learning to truly appreciate the delicacy of this gorgeous food.
Why is this important to the survival of chocolate? Well, most artisanal chocolate makers care deeply about where they source their chocolate and the quality of their beans…so they develop relationships directly with farmers and pay them 3-4x what large corporations pay. That simple act is doing a number of important things for sustainability, but mostly enabling cocoa farmers make enough money to stay on their farm without the pressure to sacrifice the land for a forced increase in yield. This impacts climate change because in order for the cacao tree to thrive, it needs large shade trees and diverse nutrients in the soil that come from other plants - it requires a diverse ecosystem. Which, is also a happy home for many of our earth’s precious animals. This is a win for the people farming the land, the animals living there, the viability of the trees, the impact on our climate and of course the sustainability of one of our world’s most treasured crops.
So, what can you do right now? Make smart choices as a consumer. Next time you pick up a chocolate bar, read what it has to say…if it describes small batch chocolate making, origin of the bean, traceability or talks about the cacao growers themselves, you are on to something great!
What are we doing?
We are donating a part of profits from all of our products to organizations dedicated to protecting all of our endangered food sources. For example, some of our donations will go to organizations like the Peru Cocoa Alliance who have been established to protect the sustainability of cacao in Peru through educational programs, incentivizing farmers to switch from coca to cacao, as well as, but not limited to implementing sustainable farming methods. We donate to places we trust will make a difference but those for whom we also feel proud to raise awareness.