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Posts Tagged ‘news’

Fair Trade Chocolate for Halloween

Friday, October 17th, 2008
The Fair Trade Logo

The Fair Trade Logo

I came across a news story by the United Methodist News Service about Fair Trade chocolate and they are trying to raise awareness this Halloween, a time when lots of people will eat lots of chocolate. The basic premise of Fair Trade is fairly simple:

  1. Provide access to the market for small scale food producers by purchasing directly from them.
  2. Develop equitable and sustainable partnerships with producers by paying fair markets prices for their goods and reinvesting in their communities.
  3. Raise awareness among consumers and other purchasers about the benefits of Fair Trade (via conferences, newsletters, blogging…)

Eating Fair Trade foods is really not as difficult as one might think. In the past few years, supermarkets and especially smaller, local food coops have put more Fair Trade products on their shelves. However, even if you are not able to stock everything you eat with Fair Trade certified goods, you can still probably find most of your staple foods with the Fair Trade logo. Items such as sugar, coffee, cocoa, tea, fruits, honey, etc. are widely available at any decent food coop.

If you would like to learn more about the Fair Trade movement, check out The Fair Trade Foundation and The International Fair Trade Organization for ways to get involved. Also, take a look at our Organic, Fair Trade Cocoa Powder and Cacao Beans for two of International Organics most popular Fair Trade products.

The Many Different Faces of Cacao

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
A Ripe Cacao Pod

A Ripe Cacao Pod

Anyone who has sampled cacao from different producers is often surprised at just how different one cacao bean can taste from another. Many people are even more surprised to learn that there are at least three different types of cacao beans grown worldwide: the Criollo, the Forastero, and the Trinitario. To even further complicate things, any number of factors can also create huge taste (and nutritional) differences between one crop and another: soil, water, climate, cultivation method, whether or not fertilizers are used, etc.

I was browsing some news articles this morning and came across an interesting story about some of these taste differences and particularly how the different varieties of cacao affect their taste.

  • Criollo. The Criollo variety of cacao bean is considered by many to be the most prized of all cacao beans, if not the most rare and difficult to come by (only about 10% of cacao worldwide is Criollo).
  • Forastero. The Forastero cacao bean is by far the most commonly grown bean in the world (about 80%) due to its hardiness and high yield. In many areas of the world, particularly west Africa, this is the only variety of cacao that is grown.
  • Trinitario. The Trinitario cacao bean is actually a hybrid of the Criollo and Forastero, and accounts for about 10% of the worldwide cacao crop. It is valued by farmers and cacao connoisseurs as having the delicate, not overly bitter flavor and aroma of the Criollo bean, while still being hardy enough for large-scale cultivation and disease resistance. Much of the world’s finest chocolate is Criollo, Trinitario, or a combination of the two.

The cacao beans sold on are all bought from a single, organic-only coop in the Dominican Republic. About 80% of their cacao crop is Trinitario beans and the other 20% is Criollo. Our beans are 100% raw, organic and fair trade certified. So, the next time you bite into a piece of chocolate, take a moment to consider just how complicated and amazing that little piece of candy really is!

Chocolate: Some Definitions

Friday, October 10th, 2008

So we often get a lot of questions asking to define some of the common terminology when dealing with cocoa. “What’s a cacao nib?”, “What’s the difference between cacao and cocoa?”. Well, it just so happens the International Herald Tribune published a brief but informative article today that we just found that accurately answers a few of these questions. Take a look at that article here.

  • What is cocoa? Made by pulverizing material left after part of the cacao fat has been removed from ground nibs. Cacao fat content is between 10 percent and 22 percent by weight.
  • Cacao Nibs. Made by removing the shell from cacao beans. May be processed by heating or adding other ingredients, such as sodium bicarbonate or citric acid.
  • Cocoa Liquor. An ingredient in many types of chocolate. Prepared by finely grinding cacao nibs. Contains between 50 percent and 60 percent by weight of cacao fat. Can be adjusted using cacao fat and cocoas, such as breakfast cocoa, regular cocoa or lowfat cocoa.
  • Lowfat Cocoa. Same as cocoa but cacao fat is less than 10 percent.
  • Milk Chocolate. Made by mixing and grinding chocolate liquor with at least one dairy ingredient, such as milk, and one type of sweetener. Contains not less than 10 percent by weight of chocolate liquor and not less than 3.39 percent by weight of milkfat.
  • Cacao or Cocoa? Generally speaking, cacao is used to describe the whole, intact bean while cocoa generally is used to refer to the powder, liquor, and butter. However, both terms can be used interchangeably since they are technically both the same plant.