Last week, I went to a chocolate-making workshop at Chocosol. For those of you in the Toronto-area, Chocosol is a fantastic company that creates fair-trade chocolate. Rather than look at chocolate as candy or a superfood, they have gone back to cacao’s origins and view it as a food of the gods. And food of the gods it is! Their chocolate is nothing like the leftover halloween candy you are used to eating. It’s rich and decadent, while also providing you with a host of health benefits. Here is a summary of their principles from their website:
Founded in 2004 in Oaxaca, Mexico, ChocoSol is now in its tenth year. ChocoSol is a learning community/social enterprise that focuses on making the ‘food of the gods’ – commonly known as cacao – into fresh, whole food, stone ground chocolate on an artisanal scale.
Our learning community is also focused on the teachings of cacao. The ‘Sol’ in ChocoSol is from the Spanish word for ‘sun’ and refers to our first 1,000 kilos of cacao that were roasted with solar power in Oaxaca. In French, ‘sol’ means soil and in English ‘sol’ sounds like ‘soul’ and reminds us of how important it is to do things with a good spirit to continuously build and expand our learning community. That’s why we say: Good for mind, body and soil.
Our artisanal chocolate is a symbol that embodies our values of socially just, ecological chocolate made, not only, with a ‘cradle to cradle’ approach, but also, charged with the use of solar energy, bicycle-powered product deliveries, and pedal-powered machines such as bicycle blenders at farmers’ markets and special events.
The main ingredient used in our chocolate is the organically- and shade-grown cacao bean sourced directly from Indigenous communities and forest gardens in the Lacondon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico and the Oaxacan mountains of Southern Mexico. Our reciprocal horizontal trade relationships with the farmers go beyond the exchange of commodities, and extend to the exchange of heirloom seedlings, best practices and social enterprise models.
Their focus on socially just chocolate practices ensures that both the farmers and the cacao are well taken care of.
The workshop I went to introduced us to jaguar chocolate. For those of you that have never heard of jaguar chocolate, it is made from white cacao beans, instead of the traditional red cacao beans. This is real white chocolate (most white chocolate has no cacao in it). It has an amazing caramel/coffee crisp/almond/butterscotch taste.
We learnt not only the process of making chocolate but also the social and cultural history of chocolate, the use of forest gardens and the health benefits of chocolate.
There are several compounds in cacao that may provide significant health benefits. Firstly, cacao is high in antioxidant polyphenols which combat oxidative stress and may assist in the prevention of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases. Secondly, cacao contains anandamide which is a neurotransmitter that can cause feelings of bliss. Thirdly, the theobromine in cacao can cause mental alertness and clarity…and these are just some of the benefits of cacao!
But please keep in mind that all these health benefits are lost when you add milk, butterfat, preservatives and process the cacao into candy.
Now, I’m going to go enjoy a cup of xocolatl…