Sunday, 10 February 2019

Fair Trade Chocolate - A complete guide

I'm a complete chocoholic and love it in any form from dark to white to chocolate chips to chocolatey recipes I've never found chocolate I don't get on with, but I do think it's really important we pay attention to our chocolate, where it comes from, how it got here and the history behind it all

Fairtrade Chocolate Guide

The Fairtrade System currently works with more than 1.65 million farmers across 74 different countries around the world to bring us some of the most delicious treats known to man — one being chocolate. There is a lot to consider when it comes to determining what type of chocolate person you are; do you opt for a magnificent milk chocolate or a delicious dark chocolate bar? I personally as I said love all chocolate and like to mix it up a bit 

Research has suggested that, each year, Britain consumes 660,900 tonnes of chocolate, which calculates to 11kg per person — or three bars each week which is crazy right? But where does it come from?

Cocoa from Bolivia: El Celibo
The creation of chocolate requires very specific environmental conditions with every bar that is produced — which makes Bolivia a great place for production. However, there are six million growers, farmers and processors across Africa, Asia and Latin America to meet the demands of the rest of the world.

Chocolate is the result of hard workers from one of the world’s poorest country; Bolivia. The nation has an estimated population of 10.89 million people and sits alongside Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. 

The entire country has a history of cultivating cocoa, which started in the 1960s, but most growers tend to be from the Alto Beni region. Although many farmers grow cocoa, some have started to grow organic bananas, citrus fruits and vegetables, too.
El Ceibo, which was established in 1977, works with 50 co-operatives across Bolivia and reaches out to around 1,106 men and 194 women farmers from different ethnic groups. 

As well as this, the majority of the additional money earnt from their own fair-trade cocoa is used to fund technical agricultural support, which is a programme that replaces cocoa plants and deforestation. 
Fair Trade Bolivia

History of Chocolate
Located on the west coast of Africa, São Tomé is made up of two main islands, as well as several islets, and is often referred to as ‘Chocolate Island’. With a small population of 200,000 people, many residents’ incomes come from cocoa and the island’s signature bean — criollo bean — which has been farmed there since the 1700s. 
However, chocolate has a lot more history than you might think as demonstrated in this graphic from Traidcraft:
History of Chocolate
Learning about the history of chocolate really got me thinking about chocolate and there's so many cool facts about all the different types and methods of making

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 plant. 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!

So there you go, next time you have a chocolate fix make sure it's Fair Trade and think about the journey it's taken to get to you

What's your favourite chocolate?



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1 comment

  1. I love chocolate so much and is great to learn the history
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