If I have a signature as a formulator, the glory of this bean is certainly a part of it. I believe in cacao as more than just a special sweet treat or even as an ingredient to lend a hunger-inducing aroma to all but one formula in my collection.
Exceptionally high in antioxidants, raw cacao blocks free radicals, protecting skin against damage to collagen and elastin while promoting and renewing skin cell tissue. Cacao contains omega 6 fatty acids and raw enzymes, both of which help in cellular repair and rejuvenation. Topical use increases blood flow to the skin, reducing inflammation and redness, slowing the visible aging process, and supporting healthy moisture content.
“Chocolate is the answer. Who cares what the question is.”
Nearly all of the cacao on the planet is produced for consumption in the massive food and fragrance industries, where the priority is strictly to maximize aromas and flavors with aggressive toasting processes. Unfortunately, the excessive heat used to achieve the characteristic chocolate scent you are accustomed to greatly diminishes the nutritional value of this precious food ingredient. It was an uphill battle to find producers who are instead dedicated to the gentle extraction and distillation of aromatic raw materials that preserve and honor the bean’s high antioxidant content.
I am committed to ever-increasing my quality standard, taking every challenge as an opportunity to dig deeper into our core values. After years searching the world, testing cacao samples from a zillion vendors, navigating ingredient adulteration and dilution and the underbelly of labeling loopholes that plague our industry, I can say without hesitation we have earned access to the best of the best with each form of cacao we incorporate into our treats. From our rich and succulent cacao butter to our exclusive, freshly-made raw oleoresin, to our nutrient-dense powdered bean, our cacao is a point of pride and total joy.
Historically, cacao has been, and still is, a significant source of tropical deforestation. At the same time, it is a crop on which many conservationists and natural resource managers base their hopes for an agriculture that not only provides a livelihood for tropical farmers, but also helps to conserve biodiversity in the tropical landscape. Growing cacao under a canopy enhances the soil, protects it from erosion, provides non-cacao products to the farmer and a refuge for an array of animal groups like birds, insects, small mammals, and reptiles. The leaf litter provided by a shade canopy is particularly important for the life cycle of the insects that pollinate the cacao blossoms.
Farmers that choose to grow cacao using sustainable methods rely on organic or premium markets for the higher prices they must charge for making a commitment to increasing biodiversity and embracing an environmentally-friendly agriculture. Although chocolate is a huge ($70+ billion annually) global business, only about 6-8 percent of this revenue actually makes its way back to the cocoa farmers, many of whom run small family operations. Labor abuse is rife in many cocoa regions, and reports of farmers enslaving thousands of child workers have sparked widespread criticism of the industry.
Labor and environmental issues have inspired the formation of several organizations and associations of wholesalers, retailers, and producers whose members are committed to growing cacao sustainably, providing fair wages and opportunities to economically disadvantaged artisans and farmers worldwide. We are committed to supporting this vital effort by choosing makers that produce organically and ethically under Fair Trade guidelines.