I simply can't get away from chocolate. Like my colleague and brother, Gregory, says: "I was conned into the chocolate world". Each time I've tried to leave a part of the 'industry', I've found myself deepening my relationship to the spirit of cacao and the importance of its continuing legacy. And, I want to be clear: it is not like I am unique in this regard - Americans, on average, eat 11 pounds of chocolate per year! Clearly, none of us can really 'get away' from chocolate. But, as I deepen into my personal relationship with Kaluna/pachamama/Gaia/Mother Earth, I understand I was introduced to chocolate not solely because I love preparing and eating her in various ways (who doesn't!) but also because I am deeply in love with our planet. I love Her peoples, I love Her creatures, and I love Her stunning and diverse beauties. She is both beautiful and gentle; She is both mysterious and powerful; She is both unforgiving and violent; and She is both paternal and maternal. She is the great embodiment of our true selves. And, yet, somehow along the way the majority of human culture has lost its conversation with Her. And, this is a terribly sad realization...and, I am reminded of this unmistakeable truth when I witness peoples' chocolate habits. Though we all eat a lot of chocolate, I propose, the majority of us don't truly know what we're eating or why we're eating it!
"Think about it. About how even a small purchase helps alleviate misery &, more importantly, achieve the possibilities – guilt-free btw – with each & every bite you take, knowing that you’re heeding the bumper-sticker to ‘Save the Earth: It’s the Only Planet with Chocolate’." ~ Mark Christian, The C-Spot
When there are such unique and well-intentioned artisan chocolate shops in our country like Fruition, Patric, Nova Monda Cacao & Chocolate, Ritual, French Broad, and Madre Chocolate - to name only a select handfull of the small businesses featured @ The Chocolate Shack all of whom excel or specialize in different facets of the artisan chocolate experience - more of us need to want to know about this chocolate movement! More of us need to want non-homogenized ethically produced beautiful tasty chocolate (and all other foods, I might add). It is the small chocolate artisan who pays the campesino(s) or the cooperative(s) living wages for their rainforest-shaded cacao. And why? Because, it is the artisans who truly value taste-diversity, uniqueness, high-quality, direct relationships. And, it is the artisans who truly understand the value of 'community' - they would perish without the support of their friends; families; and community support. Whereas the corporate chocolate cartels mass-purchase cacao from commodity brokers at cheaper prices dictated by an arbitrarily defined market index, the artisan typically buys cacao at above-market prices ensuring the health and vitality of the communities they are purchasing from as well as the forests in which the cacao grows. Speaking from experience, at a chocolate shop I previously worked at, we paid well over a dollar more per pound for our cooperatively stewarded cacao. We didn't pay this price because we wanted to sabotage our company, but, rather, we paid this price because we collectively determined this price could enable a right livelihood. When you are ordering tons of cacao, literally, this dollar plus more per pound comes out to thousands of dollars more of disbursable income amongst the co-op members - not an NGO or some other intermediary. This makes a huge differences in these communities! This makes a huge difference for our rainforests. It is up to each and every one of us to learn more about these issues.
If you think you are ready to dive in very deep, I suggest starting here. If you simply want to learn more about some of the issues I've briefly touched on in the preceding paragraphs, stop on by 'The Chocolate Shack' here @ Kaluna's Whitestone Farm & Trade Market. Let's understand each other a little better and let's help each other live more consciously, more healthily, so we can enjoy a healthier relationship with a healthier and truly respected Mother Earth. And of course, let's chat while we enjoy some artisan chocolate.