Healthy cacao trees are given room to breathe as tropical winds blow around all four sides, ensuring the cacao ripens to maximum flavor. Dedicated cocoa farmers "know" each tree personally and oversee the cacao fruit that is washed clean daily by the afternoon thunderstorms.
Take a break from the typical. Enjoy the lasting impression of organic chocolate, elegant flavors and steadfast USDA Certification - ethical and sustainable every step of the way.
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You've probably heard that organic foods are better for you and better for the earth. But despite many people's legitimate concerns about the process to produce and distribute healthy food, few people know the details about what makes a chocolate real organic. Often, the terms "organic", "natural," "local" and "small batch" are used interchangeably.
All of these concepts are important for consumers who care about the quality of their food and global ecosystems. For this blog, however, I'm going to narrow in on what it means when you see "USDA Organic" and "Fair Trade" on a food label and why it's a good idea to choose those products to feed your family.
If you remember experimenting with seeds back in school, you're aware of how everything that comes in contact with that little seed ends up as part of the growing plant. Perhaps you placed white flowers in water with food coloring and noticed how the leaves changed color as the dye was brought up through the stem of the plant.
Organic cacao is no different than those seeds. Everything in the harvested cacao fruit must have organic origins in order to be considered for certification. That's why, even if you have a beautiful peach tree in your backyard, its fruits may not be real organic. If you use chemicals to get rid of weeds out of the lawn, or pesticides that make their way into the soil, your tree is absorbing that material even if the pesticide is used in a flower bed 30 feet away. The fruits of your tree may be local or small farmed -- but they are not real certified organic.
In order for a food to be certified organic, all stages of the life cycle of the plant must be taken into account. In terms of the cocoa plant, which creates the precious cocoa bean and eventually the gourmet chocolate you love, organic starts with the grower.
We like to emphasize that our cocoa growers know each tree personally. That's not simply a nice idea -- it's an important element in creating a healthy growth life cycle that stretches from farmer to consumer. Organic starts with the soil, hydrated by the rains, and continues with collecting and processing the cocoa fruit which are rinsed by thunderstorms.
When you see a product is "USDA Organic," you can be sure it was not simply rubber-stamped by filling out a few bureaucratic forms. The USDA takes the organic label seriously, insisting on a multi-stage process before letting chocolate makers place the logo on their packaging.
The five-stage process is straightforward on paper, but complex in practice. First, food makers must come up with a plan to produce organic goods with audited steps throughout. They must look at all aspects of food production, including tilling the soil, harvesting the plants, storing and transporting the goods. No part of the supply chain is left out of this process.
Second, food makers must implement the plan and have it reviewed by a certifying agent. In the third step, the process is inspected by an agent; in the fourth step, the agent's report is reviewed. The fifth and final step is the receipt of a decision as to whether or not the food maker can use the "USDA Organic" label on their goods.
That is no small process, and it should not be. The rigorous nature of these steps gives the certification significant meaning so consumers can trust that the food products they buy are good for them and safer for the environment.
Fair trade is often understood as a process that guarantees local producers, such as those farmers who take care of the cocoa trees, receive fair compensation and a living wage for the work they do. Indeed, Fair Trade USA makes sure that is the case, in addition to ensuring those same farmers follow rigorous environmental standards that protect their own local ecosystem and the food that eventually becomes part of the consumer product range like chocolate.
Fair Trade makes sure that farmers do not have to ruin their local environment in order to put food in their mouths. By ensuring both a living wage and insisting upon standards of quality, Fair Trade encourages workers to become a part of healthy, self-sustaining communities. The chocolate industry that seeks both organic certification and Fair Trade certification can be certain they are sourcing their ingredients from the right place.
Make It Organic and Fair Trade -- It's Good for You
Organic foods are great for the environment and they reduce the amount of chemicals we consume. If you want to indulge in a gourmet food, l highly recommend enjoying something made with organic, fair trade chocolate that will satisfy both your sweet tooth and your desire to be healthy and ethically minded. Your delectable dessert will be free from harmful chemicals, and it will also ensure that the growers who produced the cocoa will be fairly paid and able to sustain their livelihood. This comprehensive system contributes to the betterment of the food industry as a whole. Buying organic and fair trade chocolate makes all of this possible.