Thinking Twice About Cacao
Alongside Halloween and Easter, Valentine’s Day is one of those seasonal events which reminds us of the countless shapes and forms that chocolate can take. From hearts to bunnies, and from trees to ghosts, companies from around the world have been shaping the food preparation known as chocolate as we know it today since the late 1800s.
>> Fun fact: There is evidence of the Mayans drinking a chocolate-y beverage back in 1900 BCE. The more you know 🌠
Yesterday’s theme of love in choco-form reminded us of why we have been serious about where our chocolate comes from for a few years now. We watched a 2012 documentary called Semisweet: Life in Chocolate (see link below), and it forever changed our perspective on everything cacao.
The film follows the journey of chocolate through four different stories: a raw foodist couple selling homemade chocolate, a French chocolatier, an employee at Hersheyland (yes that’s a thing) and children who work in the cacao fields of Mali and Burkina Faso.
Needless to say, the juxtaposition of the first three stories to the exploited and abused workers is a powerful message. In fact, when compared together, the reality of chocolate seems ridiculous. We’ll let you watch it yourselves to make your own conclusions. For us, it definitely resparked the question: where does our food comes from? Because we all generally associate chocolate with candy, birthdays and all around fun, we never really stop and think about the origins of this food product.
Thanks to this doc, we know a little more truth about our world. Let us remind you all that knowledge is power. The ending of Semisweet really blew us away. Yes, we did feel a little terrible about our chocolate purchases up until that point, but from that moment, we knew what our decision was to be: only buy chocolate from reputable sources.
We are totally in favour of supporting those who are doing chocolate right. For example, Theobroma (from Québec City) has fair trade certification (a big plus for ensuring that producers are paid well and that working conditions are safe). Also, their cacao is organic. And if you think that, oh, not with the organic-spiel again, sorry, not sorry — organic makes a big difference. This type of chocolate is free of synthetic food additives, dyes and GMOs (many of which are known to be carcinogens). Most importantly, be sure there is a ‘fair trade’ logo on your choco.
Without sounding too disheartening, it’s vital to know that the chocolate industry has been oft described as modern-day slavery. It is based on human trafficking, harsh use of chemicals and practices that (other than make profit) make no sense.
Don’t feel bad about not knowing the truth behind those Dollarama choco-hearts you thought were a cute idea at good price. You didn’t know the real cost of those so-so tasting, sugary products. Now you do. The choice is yours. Next time it’s your mom’s bday, we know you’ll do the good thing.
*NB: we do not have any kickback nor commercial incentive in advertising for Theobroma. We simply want you all to be able to put a face to the name of who’s doing what, right.