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Thursday
Feb112010

Sustainable Dark Chocolate Tasting: 21 Bars, 12 Tasters...


Last week, Analiese Paik, Editor of the Fairfield Green Food Guide, walked the CTbites staff through a sustainable dark chocolate tasting. We managed to consume (in very small pieces) 21 different varieties of chocolate...it was a very productive morning. Here's what you should buy for your loved one...

If someone had told me there were more than 20 different companies that made premium, organic and fair trade chocolate bars, I might have doubted the veracity of that statement. But there I was in Whole Foods Market in Westport, in chocolate heaven, scrutinizing the sustainable labeling on beautifully wrapped bars of Dagoba, Equal Exchange, Newman's Own Organic, Kallari, Divine and 15 more chocolate companies, each just begging to be chosen for the sustainable chocolate tasting I was holding with the help of CT Bites. I couldn't choose; they all had to come home. It was only fair.

I decided to divide them up by percent cacao, from lowest to highest, just as a wine tasting would be arranged from lightest to fullest bodied. 21 bars were divided into 4 flights of 5-6 bars each (a list follows). These would have to be small pieces if we were to make it through all 21. Luckily I had recently bumped into Marcy Shinbaum, one of the tasting panelists and CTbites contributor, who had actually done a "real" chocolate tasting before, and she sent me to allchocolate.com for advice about organizing the chocolate tasting. 

I found All Chocolate's advice about setting up a tasting indispensable and used it to write a guide to lead the 12 panelists through the blind tasting. Yes, it was really blind, and we tasted, smelled, wrote, cleansed our palates with room temp water, tasted some more, compared notes, voted for our favorites, and had a lot of fun. We obviously had no idea which bars we were tasting, but by the time we got to the fourth flight, we had gotten so good at evaluating what was in our mouth that some of us were able to identify the single origin chocolates. Others were suffering from palate fatigue, including one panelist who reported being cured of her chocolate addiction. So I ordered a short break with some Fairfield Baking Company bread and room temperature water to cleanse our palates. 

At the conclusion of each flight, we reviewed the bars by inviting panelists to call out the tastes and aromas they had scribbled on their tasting sheets: fruity, milky, smooth,  chalky, bitter, spicy, coffee, caramel, burnt caramel, toffee, floral, tannic, sour, orange, raisin, vanilla, balanced, acidic, intense chocolate/cacao, red wine, cedar, earthy, popcorn, tobacco, espresso. Maybe some of these seem a bit strange, but we’re not talking bulk bean bars here, these are premium bars made from rare (less than 10% of cacao production worldwide) flavor beans, some of which were single varietal or single origin, or both. 

We were genuinely surprised as brands were revealed and it was especially interesting to see how different our taste perceptions and preferences are. A true revelation was how unique and complex the flavor profiles of the single origin and single varietal bars were. Single origin bars come from a single cacao cooperative in a country like Madagascar, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Panama, Ghana or Venezuela. Unique and intensively flavored, these bars varied widely in their flavor profiles and a few may be too exotic or intense for consumers used to mass market chocolates made from bulk beans from Africa, Brazil and Indonesia. Premium chocolates are made from the rarer, more difficult to grow noble or “flavor” varietals including Cacao Nacional, Criollo, Trinitario, Venezolano, & Blonde Cacao. When you think of these bars, don’t just think organic and fair trade, think biodiversity and preservation of species. Perhaps the rarest single varietal we tasted (and ranked among the highest) was one from the Ecuadorian Amazon called Cacao Nacional. It turns out that we have Slow Food to thank for giving this varietal a much needed sustainability boost in 2004 when they selected it for their prestigious Presidium Award (footnoted below). According to Slow Food, “Nacional Cacao is a descendant of the cacao trees first developed and cultivated by the Mayans in South America. It is an exceptionally flavorful and delicate cacao type, found only in Ecuador hence its patriotic name.” 

In nearly every flight each of the bars received at least 2 votes for best in flight. That means there were no clear winners. But for what it's worth, I asked for a show of hands to vote for the favorite bar in each flight and overall. Our results are listed below, but I recommend you hold your own tasting as a Valentine's Day celebration! I recommend a dedicated single origin/single varietal tasting since they are so unique.

Winners by Category

Flight #1 52%-65% cacao 

Lake Champlain Chocolates Organic Dark Chocolate, 55% cacao, USDA Organic, Certified Organic by Quality Assurance International. Made in Burlington,Vermont in their factories.

Flight #2 70% cacao

Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate, 70% cacao, USDA Organic, Certified Organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Green & Black's announced on January 28, 2010 that it will convert its entire range of chocolate, worldwide, to use only Fair Trade Certified ingredients. This bar is made using organic Trinitario cocoa beans sourced from the Dominican Republic, a flavor variety of cocoa bean that makes up only about 2 percent of the world's crop yet is more complex in flavor than ubiquitous, ordinary bulk beans. This chocolate contains enough sugar to balance the inherent bitterness of the cocoa. "Cocoa is amongst the most highly sprayed food crops in the world. At Green & Black's, we choose to grow and make our chocolate organically to bring out the signature intensity and flavor in our cocoa beans. We ensure that every one of our ingredients is grown using natural, sustainable farming methods with no pesticides. This allows the true cocoa flavors to shine through and our chocolate to taste the way it was meant to - deep, fruity and full."

Flight #3 71%-77% cacao

Equal Exchange Organic & Fairly Traded Very Dark Chocolate, 71% cacao, USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth (OTCO), Kosher Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. Our organic fairly-traded gourmet chocolate bars are a rich and delicious treat that supports small-scale farmers and their families. The bars combine famous Swiss standards in chocolate making with cocoa from the farmer co-operatives CONACADO, in the Dominican Republic, COCABO, in Panama, and CACVRA, in Peru; fairly traded organic sugar from co-operatives in Paraguay and Costa Rica; and fairly traded vanilla from Madagascar. This is a top seller at on their retail web store - a delicious and rich dark chocolate experience. Vegan and gluten-free.

Flight #4  80%-91% cacao

Kallari Single Source Organic Cacao Nacional (rare single varietal), 85% cacao, USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. This single source USDA organic chocolate made by a cooperative of 850 indigenous Kichwa farmers in the Ecuadoran Amazon and they are "the only farmers' cooperative in the world that harvests, markets and enjoys all profits from its own line of organic chocolate" according to The Kallari Story printed inside the box .100% of the proceeds go back to the farmers so they can lead a good life and preserve the Napo region, home to "some of the most species-rich forests in the world", according to the World Wildlife Fund. Made from a rare cacao varietal called Cacao Nacional that flourishes in this area and once faced extinction, these rare beans were singled out for protection by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and the Nacional Cacao Presidium was established to improve the quality of the production. Later that year, the community presented their first chocolate bars at the international Terra Madre meeting, marking the beginning of a more profitable enterprise."

Favorite Bars Overall

365 Organic Swiss Dark Chocolate, 52% cacao, Fair Trade Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. This is Whole Foods Market's Everyday Value brand of chocolate that's made in Switzerland using beans from the Dominican Republic. The Whole Trade Guarantee symbolizes a commitment to Ethical Trade, the Environment and Quality Products. Whole Trade Guarantee products must meet Whole Foods Market's high Quality Standards, provide more money to producers, ensure better wages and working conditions for workers and utilize sound environmental practices. February is Fair Trade Month at Whole Foods Markets across the country and 1% of sales from products carrying their Whole Trade Guarantee are donated to the Whole Planet Foundation. The mission of this foundation is to create economic partnerships with the poor in those developing-world communities that supply their stores with products.Through innovative assistance for entrepreneurship - including direct micro-credit loans and tangible support for other community projects - the Whole Planet Foundation seeks to create prosperity in emerging economies.

Newman's Own Organics Signature Series Dark Chocolate, 54% cacao, USDA Organic, Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth (OTCO), Rainforest Alliance Certified. Newman's Own Organics was established as a division of Newman's Own in 1993, and became a separate company in late 2001. The Newman's Own Foundation has given over $250 million to thousands of charities worldwide since 1982. The new Signature Series line of Chocolate Bars is formulated with fine Certified Organic chocolate made from cocoa beans grown on Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM farms.

Lake Champlain Chocolates Organic Dark Chocolate, 55% cacao, USDA Organic, Certified Organic by Quality Assurance International. Made in Burlington, Vermont in their factories.

Equal Exchange Organic & Fairly Traded Very Dark Chocolate, 71% cacao, USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth (OTCO), Kosher Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. Our organic fairly-traded gourmet chocolate bars are a rich and delicious treat that supports small-scale farmers and their families. The bars combine famous Swiss standards in chocolate making with cocoa from the farmer co-operatives CONACADO, in the Dominican Republic, COCABO, in Panama, and CACVRA, in Peru; fairly traded organic sugar from co-operatives in Paraguay and Costa Rica; and fairly traded vanilla from Madagascar. The top seller at their retail web store - a delicious and rich dark chocolate experience. Vegan and gluten-free. 3.5oz per bar.

Equal Exchange Organic & Fairly Traded Extra Dark Chocolate (Single Origin) Panama, 80% cacao, USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth (OTCO), Kosher Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. Our organic fairly-traded gourmet chocolate bars are a rich and delicious treat that supports small-scale farmers and their families. The bars combine famous Swiss standards in chocolate making with cocoa from the farmer co-operatives CONACADO, in the Dominican Republic, COCABO, in Panama, and CACVRA, in Peru; fairly traded organic sugar from co-operatives in Paraguay and Costa Rica; and fairly traded vanilla from Madagascar. This 80% cacao content bar is Equal Exchange's darkest yet. Unlike many high cacao content bars that are dominated by a bitter or sour note, this bar is perfectly balanced in a way that allows the true chocolate flavor of the Panamanian beans to shine. Vegan and gluten-free.

Kallari Single Source Organic Cacao Nacional (rare single varietal), 85% cacao, USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. This single source USDA organic chocolate made by a cooperative of 850 indigenous Kichwa farmers in the Ecuadoran Amazon and they are "the only farmers' cooperative in the world that harvests, markets and enjoys all profits from its own line of organic chocolate" according to The Kallari Story printed inside the box .100% of the proceeds go back to the farmers so they can lead a good life and preserve the Napo region, home to "some of the most species-rich forests in the world", according to the World Wildlife Fund. Made from a rare cacao varietal called Cacao Nacional that flourishes in this area and once faced extinction, these rare beans were singled out for protection by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and the Nacional Cacao Presidium was established to improve the quality of the production. Later that year, the community presented their first chocolate bars at the international Terra Madre meeting, marking the beginning of a more profitable enterprise."

The Complete List of the 21 Sustainable Chocolate Bars Tasted

Flights are ordered from lowest to highest percent cacao with descriptions of each bar from the company's web site.

Flight#1 52%-65% cacao

A. 365 Organic Swiss Dark Chocolate, 52% cacao, Fair Trade Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. This is Whole Foods Market's Everyday Value brand of chocolate that's made in Switzerland using beans from the Dominican Republic. The Whole Trade Guarantee symbolizes a commitment to Ethical Trade, the Environment and Quality Products. Whole Trade Guarantee products must meet Whole Foods Market's high Quality Standards, provide more money to producers, ensure better wages and working conditions for workers and utilize sound environmental practices. February is Fair Trade Month at Whole Foods Markets across the country and 1% of sales from products carrying their Whole Trade Guarantee are donated to the Whole Planet Foundation. The mission of this foundation is to create economic partnerships with the poor in those developing-world communities that supply their stores with products.Through innovative assistance for entrepreneurship - including direct micro-credit loans and tangible support for other community projects - the Whole Planet Foundation seeks to create prosperity in emerging economies.

B. Newman's Own Organics Signature Series Dark Chocolate, 54% cacao, USDA Organic, Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth (OTCO), Rainforest Alliance Certified. Newman's Own Organics was established as a division of Newman's Own in 1993, and became a separate company in late 2001. The Newman's Own Foundation has given over $250 million to thousands of charities worldwide since 1982. The new Signature Series line of Chocolate Bars is formulated with fine Certified Organic chocolate made from cocoa beans grown on Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM farms.

C. Lake Champlain Chocolates Organic Dark Chocolate, 55% cacao, USDA Organic, Certified Organic by Quality Assurance International. Made in Burlington, Vermont in their factories.

D. Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Dark, 59% cacao, USDA Organic. Dagoba is dedicated to pursuing Full Circle Sustainability with high standards in Quality, Ecology, Equity and Community. Chocolate bars are made in small batches from cacao sustainably sourced from Latin America, South America and Madagascar in their Ashland, Oregon facility.

E. Chocolove Organic Belgian Dark Chocolate, 61% cacao, USDA Organic. Make in Boulder, CO from Belgian chocolate made with Caribbean beans. "On a Caribbean Island, organic farming has stimulated the cocoa trees to produce cocoa beans that are full of character. The big fruity flavor, acidity, and bitterness of the beans are artfully crafted into a balanced full-bodied premium chocolate as only the Belgians know how to do. Upon eating, the extra cocoa butter softly gives way to tangy, bittersweet cocoa flavor."

F. Theo Madagascar (Single Origin), 65% cacao, Whole Trade Guarantee. "This is a single-origin organic chocolate from the island nation of Madagascar. The dynamic fruit and wine notes in this dark chocolate reflect the unique and diverse environment of this exotic land." "As the first and only organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the country, all of our ingredients are carefully screened to ensure they meet our standards for social and environmental responsibility. Theo's standards and practices include: Using only pure ingredients that are grown sustainably. We source our ingredients locally whenever possible. Partnering with our growers by ensuring they earn a living wage and have access to education for their families. Honoring and respecting our employees and suppliers. This is possible due to the unique fact that we control every step of our own manufacturing process. Using green energy sources to power our factory. Using sustainable packaging and printing methods. Educating about social and environmental accountability 7 days a week through public tours of our artisan factory.

Flight #2 70% cacao only

A. Theo Jane Goodall Organic Dark Chocolate, 70% cacao, Fair Trade Certified, USDA Organic, Whole Trade Guarantee. "As the first and only organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the country, all of our ingredients are carefully screened to ensure they meet our standards for social and environmental responsibility. Theo's standards and practices include: Using only pure ingredients that are grown sustainably. We source our ingredients locally whenever possible. Partnering with our growers by ensuring they earn a living wage and have access to education for their families. Honoring and respecting our employees and suppliers. This is possible due to the unique fact that we control every step of our own manufacturing process. Using green energy sources to power our factory. Using sustainable packaging and printing methods. Educating about social and environmental accountability 7 days a week through public tours of our artisan factory. As a leader of the environmental movement for over 40 years and a United Nations Messenger of Peace, Jane Goodall has created her own "Good For All" seal to reflect her personal commitment to supporting high quality, ethically produced products from the developing world. Our two newest Theo chocolate bars carry Jane's seal, essentially her seal of approval, and truly are "Good for All." Proceeds from the sale of these chocolate bars will benefit cocoa farmers, promote conservation in the tropical rainforest and directly contribute to the Jane Goodall Institute's efforts to save chimpanzees, develop community centered conservation efforts and direct youth education programs around the world.

B. Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate, 70% cacao, USDA Organic, Certified Organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Green & Black's announced on January 28, 2010 that it will convert its entire range of chocolate, worldwide, to use only Fair Trade Certified ingredients. This bar is made using organic Trinitario cocoa beans sourced from the Dominican Republic, a flavor variety of cocoa bean that makes up only about 2 percent of the world's crop yet is more complex in flavor than ubiquitous, ordinary bulk beans. This chocolate contains enough sugar to balance the inherent bitterness of the cocoa. "Cocoa is amongst the most highly sprayed food crops in the world. At Green & Black's, we choose to grow and make our chocolate organically to bring out the signature intensity and flavor in our cocoa beans. We ensure that every one of our ingredients is grown using natural, sustainable farming methods with no pesticides. This allows the true cocoa flavors to shine through and our chocolate to taste the way it was meant to - deep, fruity and full."

C. Divine Dark chocolate, Ghana (Single Origin) 70% cacao, Fair Trade Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. Divine Chocolate is today a leading Fair Trade UK brand and pioneer in the world of socially responsible enterprise that is partially owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana. Kuapa Kokoo, which means good cocoa growers, is a farmers' cooperative which began trading its own cocoa and eventually set up a chocolate company of their own in order to return even more benefits to cocoa farmers. With investment from The Body Shop and Twin Trading, and support from Comic Relief and Christian Aid, Divine Chocolate was born. Its mission is to empower farmers in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood, to increase women's participation in all of Kuapa's activities, and to develop environmentally friendly cultivation of cocoa. At present, there is no national program for organic certification of cocoa in Ghana.  In 2006, Divine Chocolate Inc. opened in Washington DC to bring fantastic Fair Trade chocolate to US consumers. The farmers of Kuapa Kokoo own one-third of Divine Chocolate in the US. Additional investment is provided by Divine Chocolate Ltd. in the UK, Lutheran World Relief, Oikocredit, and SERRV International.

D. Endangered Species Organic Smooth Dark Chocolate, 70% cacao, USDA Organic, Certified Vegan, Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth (OTCO), Whole Grade Guarantee. Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC) was founded in 1993 in effort to spread awareness and to make an impact on the growing number of plant and animal species that are disappearing from Earth. Since then the mission has grown to embrace a new definition of "endangered" - that all species, habitat and humanity are endangered on our planet, not just animals on a list. 10% of net profits of this Indianapolis, Indiana-based company are donated to help support species, habitat and humanity. Organic Smooth Dark Chocolate features the Karner Blue Butterfly on the outside of the 30% post-consumer FSC certified paper wrapper and the plight of this delicate creature on the inside. Made from ethically traded, shade-grown, organic-certified chocolate, Organic Smooth Dark Chocolate is also certified vegan, gluten-free and kosher. Since it is ethically traded, we ensure farmers humane working conditions and a fair price for their cacao.

E. Kallari Single Source Organic Cacao Nacional (rare single varietal), 70% cacao, USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. This single source USDA organic chocolate made by a cooperative of 850 indigenous Kichwa farmers in the Ecuadoran Amazon and they are "the only farmers' cooperative in the world that harvests, markets and enjoys all profits from its own line of organic chocolate" according to The Kallari Story printed inside the box. 100% of the proceeds go back to the farmers so they can lead a good life and preserve the Napo region, home to "some of the most species-rich forests in the world", according to the World Wildlife Fund. Made from a rare cacao varietal called Cacao Nacional that flourishes in this area and once faced extinction, these rare beans were singled out for protection by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and the Nacional Cacao Presidium was established to improve the quality of the production. Later that year, the community presented their first chocolate bars at the international Terra Madre meeting, marking the beginning of a more profitable enterprise."

Flight #3 71%-77% cacao

A. Equal Exchange Organic & Fairly Traded Very Dark Chocolate, 71% cacao, , USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth (OTCO), Kosher Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. Our organic fairly-traded gourmet chocolate bars are a rich and delicious treat that supports small-scale farmers and their families. The bars combine famous Swiss standards in chocolate making with cocoa from the farmer co-operatives CONACADO, in the Dominican Republic, COCABO, in Panama, and CACVRA, in Peru; fairly traded organic sugar from co-operatives in Paraguay and Costa Rica; and fairly traded vanilla from Madagascar. The top seller at our retail web store - a delicious and rich dark chocolate experience. Vegan and gluten-free. 3.5oz per bar.

B. Chocolove Organic Belgian Dark Chocolate, 73%, USDA Organic. Make in Boulder, CO from Belgian chocolate made with Caribbean beans. "On a Caribbean Island, organic farming has stimulated the cocoa trees to produce cocoa beans that are full of character. The big fruity flavor, acidity, and bitterness of the beans are artfully crafted into a balanced full-bodied premium chocolate as only the Belgians know how to do. Upon eating, the extra cocoa butter softly gives way to tangy, bittersweet cocoa flavor."

C. Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Conacado (Single Origin) Dominican Republic Origin, 73% cacao, USDA Organic, Whole Trade Guarantee. Full of rich, deep and earthy flavors, this dark chocolate hails from the Conacado Fair Trade Cooperative in the Dominican Republic. Dagoba is dedicated to pursuing Full Circle Sustainability with high standards in Quality, Ecology, Equity and Community. Chocolate bars are made in small batches from cacao sustainably sourced from Latin America, South America and Madagascar in their Ashland, Oregon facility.

D. Dagoba Organic New Moon Chocolate, 74% cacao, USDA Organic. Dagoba is dedicated to pursuing Full Circle Sustainability with high standards in Quality, Ecology, Equity and Community. Chocolate bars are made in small batches from cacao sustainably sourced from Latin America, South America and Madagascar in their Ashland, Oregon facility.

E. Kallari Single Source Organic Cacao Nacional (rare single varietal), 75% cacao, USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. This single source USDA organic chocolate made by a cooperative of 850 indigenous Kichwa farmers in the Ecuadoran Amazon and they are "the only farmers' cooperative in the world that harvests, markets and enjoys all profits from its own line of organic chocolate" according to The Kallari Story printed inside the box .100% of the proceeds go back to the farmers so they can lead a good life and preserve the Napo region, home to "some of the most species-rich forests in the world", according to the World Wildlife Fund. Made from a rare cacao varietal called Cacao Nacional that flourishes in this area and once faced extinction, these rare beans were singled out for protection by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and the Nacional Cacao Presidium was established to improve the quality of the production. Later that year, the community presented their first chocolate bars at the international Terra Madre meeting, marking the beginning of a more profitable enterprise."

Flight #4  80%-91% cacao

A. Equal Exchange Organic & Fairly Traded Extra Dark Chocolate (Single Origin) Panama, 80% cacao, USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth (OTCO), Kosher Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. Our organic fairly-traded gourmet chocolate bars are a rich and delicious treat that supports small-scale farmers and their families. The bars combine famous Swiss standards in chocolate making with cocoa from the farmer co-operatives CONACADO, in the Dominican Republic, COCABO, in Panama, and CACVRA, in Peru; fairly traded organic sugar from co-operatives in Paraguay and Costa Rica; and fairly traded vanilla from Madagascar. This 80% cacao content bar is Equal Exchange's darkest yet. Unlike many high cacao content bars that are dominated by a bitter or sour note, this bar is perfectly balanced in a way that allows the true chocolate flavor of the Panamanian beans to shine. Vegan and gluten-free.

B. Theo Ghana (Single Origin), 84% cacao, Whole Trade Guarantee. "The Fair Trade CertifiedTM cacao used in this single-origin dark chocolate bar is from the fertile growing region surrounding Kumasi, Ghana. The perfectly fermented and dried beans yield slightly floral notes over golden and round chocolate flavors. As the first and only organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the country, all of our ingredients are carefully screened to ensure they meet our standards for social and environmental responsibility. Theo's standards and practices include: Using only pure ingredients that are grown sustainably. We source our ingredients locally whenever possible. Partnering with our growers by ensuring they earn a living wage and have access to education for their families. Honoring and respecting our employees and suppliers. This is possible due to the unique fact that we control every step of our own manufacturing process. Using green energy sources to power our factory. Using sustainable packaging and printing methods. Educating about social and environmental accountability 7 days a week through public tours of our artisan factory."

C. Kallari Single Source Organic Cacao Nacional (rare single varietal), 85% cacao, USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Whole Trade Guarantee. This single source USDA organic chocolate made by a cooperative of 850 indigenous Kichwa farmers in the Ecuadoran Amazon and they are "the only farmers' cooperative in the world that harvests, markets and enjoys all profits from its own line of organic chocolate" according to The Kallari Story printed inside the box .100% of the proceeds go back to the farmers so they can lead a good life and preserve the Napo region, home to "some of the most species-rich forests in the world", according to the World Wildlife Fund. Made from a rare cacao varietal called Cacao Nacional that flourishes in this area and once faced extinction, these rare beans were singled out for protection by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and the Nacional Cacao Presidium was established to improve the quality of the production. Later that year, the community presented their first chocolate bars at the international Terra Madre meeting, marking the beginning of a more profitable enterprise."

D. Dagoba Organic Eclipse Extra Strong Dark Chocolate, 87% cacao, USDA Organic. Barely sweetened cacao with a hint of coffee flavor. Dagoba is dedicated to pursuing Full Circle Sustainability with high standards in Quality, Ecology, Equity and Community.

E. Theo Venezuela (Single Origin), 91% cacao, Whole Trade Guarantee. "A blend of Venezuelan cacao from Barinas, Merida and Tachira. The delicate flavors of these remote western regions are highlighted in this very high cacao percentage dark chocolate." This special bar is available for a limited time only and you may see it already replaced on the shelf with a Costa Rica Origin bar. "As the first and only organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the country, all of our ingredients are carefully screened to ensure they meet our standards for social and environmental responsibility. Theo's standards and practices include: Using only pure ingredients that are grown sustainably. We source our ingredients locally whenever possible. Partnering with our growers by ensuring they earn a living wage and have access to education for their families. Honoring and respecting our employees and suppliers. This is possible due to the unique fact that we control every step of our own manufacturing process. Using green energy sources to power our factory. Using sustainable packaging and printing methods. Educating about social and environmental accountability 7 days a week through public tours of our artisan factory."

Note: The Whole Trade Guarantee™ label identifies companies with a commitment to ethical trade, the environment and quality products according to Whole Foods Market standards. The Whole Planet Foundation receives 1% of the retail sales of Whole Trade Guarantee™ products, helping to further its mission of ending poverty in the developing world.

The Fair Trade Certified™ label guarantees consumers that strict economic, social and environmental criteria were met in the production and trade of an agricultural product. Fair Trade Certification is currently available in the U.S. for coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, flowers, sugar, rice, and vanilla. TransFair USA licenses companies to display the Fair Trade Certified label on products that meet strict international Fair Trade standards.

About the Slow Food Presidia: (from the web site)

The Presidia began in Italy in 1999 as the working arm of the Ark of Taste. The Ark had catalogued hundreds of products at risk of disappearing, but with the Presidia, Slow Food decided to make a concrete contribution to the world of food production. Presidia are local projects that focus on a group of producers of a single product, developing production and marketing techniques to allow their work to be economically viable. The Presidia program is the tool that Slow Food uses to assist producers directly in the commercialization, protection and promotion of their products. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity supports the development and promotion of the Presidia around the world. Created in 2003 with the assistance of the Tuscan Region, the Slow Food Foundation promotes a new agricultural system that respects local cultural identities, the earth’s resources, sustainable animal husbandry, and the health of individual consumers.

This event was made possible through the generosity of Whole Foods Market Westport. Special thanks go to Stephanie Webster, Founder/Editor of CTBites, and the guest panelists including chef/author Nicole Straight, food writer Elizabeth Keyser, mompreneur Alexandra Wells, Sarah Green, Deanna Foster, Fairfield Parent magazine writer Karen Demeter, and Marcy Shinbaum.

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    Sustainable Dark Chocolate Tasting: 21 Bars, 12 Tasters... - CT Bites - Restaurants, Recipes, Food, Fairfield County, CT
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    Sustainable Dark Chocolate Tasting: 21 Bars, 12 Tasters... - CT Bites - Restaurants, Recipes, Food, Fairfield County, CT
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    Amazing Site, Preserve the wonderful job. Many thanks.

Reader Comments (2)

What a fabulous resource of information. Thank you! Being a chocoholic, how does one procure an invite to an event like this?

Elizabeth

February 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

Glad you enjoyed the article. We love volunteer tasters and will be collaborating on future food and beverage tastings. So send me your name and coordinates at info@fairfieldgreenfoodguide.com to get on a tasting panel!

February 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergreenfoodgal

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