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It’s fair to say that I’ve always had a sweet tooth and chocolate is something I love. Not so much that I’m obsessed by it but I can appreciate a bar of chocolate whenever I’m feeling a little low or have a craving for the sweet stuff. The Fairtrade system currently works with over 1.65 million farmers across 74 countries to bring over the delicious treats we’ve come to know and love. But are you a fan of milk chocolate or is the darker chocolate more to your taste? So what is there to know about fair trade chocolate?
So Britain consumes 660,900 tonnes of chocolate EACH YEAR. I mean that’s like three bars of chocolate each week. I feel like that’s a lot more than I normally consume but if I had the metabolism I had in my teens, I’d be eating that much every day. So where does chocolate come from?
Cocoa from Bolivia: El Celibo
The creation of chocolate requires a very specific environment so Bolivia is a great place for production. However, there are six million growers, farmers and processors across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Chocolate is the result of hard workers from one of the world’s poorest countries, Bolivia. The nation is estimated at 10.89 million. The country has a history of cultivating cocoa, which started in the 1960s. Most growers tend to be from the Alto Beni region. Although these farmers grow cocoa, some have also started to grow organic bananas, citrus fruits and vegetables too. El Ceibo, established in 1977, works with 50 co-operatives. The majority of additional money earnt from their own fair-trade cocoa is used to fund the technical agricultural support, a programme that replaces cocoa plants and deforestation.
History Of Chocolate
Located on the west coast of Africa, São Tomé is often referred to as ‘Chocolate Island‘. With a population of just 200,000, many residents get their income from cocoa and the island’s signature bean, the criollo bean. Chocolate, however, has a lot more history than you may think. Traidcraft Shop has provided me with the following graphic which shows us just a brief history of this delicious treat.
What are the main differences between traditional and raw chocolate?
Raw chocolate usually contains fewer ingredients than traditional chocolate — such as cocoa powder, cocoa butter, coconut blossom sugar, and raw fruit or seeds. Traditional chocolate can contain milk, soya, sugars, sweeteners, soya, and a host of artificial flavourings and preservatives. While Traidcraft’s fair trade vegan chocolate may not be raw chocolate, it’s kept its recipe as natural as possible — fair trade, organic, and free from GMOs, cheap emulsifiers, cheap oils, artificial colours or preservatives.
Not only that, did you know that cocoa beans that are used for raw chocolate are never heated above 42 degrees? In commercial chocolate, the cocoa beans are roasted at a temperature between 130 and 400 degrees. When drying cocoa beans for raw chocolate, some cocoa growers just leave their beans outdoors to dry naturally in the sunlight!
What are the main differences between cocoa and cacao?
Cocoa and cacao are technically the same plants. Though the words cocoa and cacao are often used interchangeably, generally cocoa is the term used for cacao that’s been fermented, dried, and roasted at high temperatures. It’s then pressed until all the oils are separated and the solids that remain can be turned into a dry powder — cocoa powder. Cacao powder is made in a very similar way but at a far lower temperature.
Where is cocoa originally grown?
The Theobroma Cacao has been used throughout time for nutritional and medicinal benefits and is native to Central America. This scientific name for the tree actually translates as ‘food of the gods’. These trees produce pods which contain 20-40 cacao beans — and it’s these beans that eventually get turned into chocolate. Theobroma Cacao trees grow most successfully in a narrow band called the Cocoa Belt or the Chocolate Belt. This band extends up to 20 degrees north and south of the equator.
Was chocolate worth more than gold?
Back in the Mayan period, cocoa beans were worth more than gold and were even used as currency. The Mayans maintained the value of cocoa beans by restricting the harvesting of the beans.
Have cocoa farmers ever tasted chocolate?
The majority of cocoa farmers have never tasted chocolate. Beans are shipped almost instantly as if chocolate was created in these typically warm countries, it would melt! Many cocoa farmers will have never tasted chocolate in their lives. In 2017, Traidcraft hosted Linda, a cocoa farmer from the co-operative Kuapa Kokoo (and who grows fair trade cocoa for the Divine Chocolate Company), and she reminded us that any chocolate left lying around in Ghana would just melt anyway.
Do you love chocolate? Let me know in the comments below.
*Disclaimer – This is a collaborative post. This has been part pre-written.