All posts by chocolatethoughtscom

Interview With A Chocolate Lover

 This interview is being conducted for the purpose of chocolate research, and to gain a deeper understanding of how chocolate affects people’s lives.  Many people enjoy the delicious, sweet substance, yet not all are aware of the history.  The interviewee will be asked a series of questions about how chocolate affects her life.  She enjoys chocolate on a daily basis, and so this interview will be beneficial to everyone. First, she will be asked about her favorite kind of chocolate, and why she chose it.  Secondly, how chocolate has affected her life, either health wise, or pleasure.  Lastly, we will discuss how chocolate has progressed, or stayed the same over the years. For example, does chocolate taste the same now, as it did hundreds of years ago?  Is chocolate as healthy now as it was in the time of the Mayans or Aztecs? The interview will give everyone a new perspective on almost every aspect of chocolate.  Without further ado, let’s begin our interview with a chocolate lover.

The interviewee was born and bred in Southeast Michigan, and is now twenty-one years old.  Her obsession with chocolate began when she was very young.  She recalls, “eating chocolate as young as two years old when my father would feed me spoonful’s of chocolate ice cream.” I laughed, responding, “Yes, chocolate ice cream is very good.  Do you still enjoy chocolate ice cream?” She replied, “Of course! Only, now I eat organic, dairy free chocolate ice cream.” At this point, it was a perfect time to move the interview toward our first question.  Obviously the interviewee has enjoyed chocolate her whole life, and it would be interesting to know what is her favorite kind of chocolate.

She replied, “My favorite chocolate comes the Endangered Speciesbrand, and my favorite flavor is Dark Chocolate, With Forest Mint.” It sounded delicious. I asked, “Why is that your favorite brand of chocolate?” Interviewee: “Well, the ingredients are healthier than something you would find in a Nestle brand for example.  This brand is a NON GMO product, Kosher, certified gluten free, and certified vegan. It also contains around 70% cocoa.”  It was refreshing to know that the interviewee had a respect for healthy, organic chocolate.  I was able to research the product, and gathered the ingredient information.  It contains, “BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE (CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, CANE SUGAR, COCOA BUTTER, SOY LECITHIN, VANILLA), NATURAL MINT FLAVOR” (Chocolatebar.com).  It also contains 5g’s of fiber, 12 g’s of sugar, and 3 g’s of protein.  The total calories per bar is 210.  The fact that the interviewee was aware of the health benefits of cacao surprised me.  Cacao is the purest form of chocolate, and to give the reader some perspective, we will explore its origins.

The following information has been qouted from my last blog post, Eat More Organic Chocolate!: “Christopher Columbus was said to have brought some back with him, after his fourth trip to the New World, but Europe was not quite ready to acknowledge its significance.  Actually, “It was his fellow explorer, the Spanish Conquistador Don Hernán Cortés, who first realized their commercial value. He brought cocoa beans back to Spain in 1528 and very gradually, the custom of drinking the chocolate spread across Europe, reaching England in the 1650s” (Cadbury).  Cacao, the ancient chocolate of the world, had just started its long journey to modern popularity.” (Wydo)

In fact, “By 1682, a British report detailed cocoa exports from Jamaica to Boston. By inference, cocoa exports into the colonies can be assumed to be used for local chocolate production, marking the beginning of chocolate production in the American colonies” (History of Chocolate: Chocolate in the American ColoniesSnyder).  It became so popular in North America, that even John Adams and his wife would have some with their morning breakfast.  Snyder records, ‘“John and Abigail Adams were very fond of chocolate. In 1779, John Adams, while in Spain, wrote, “Ladies drink chocolate in the Spanish fashion. Each lady took a cup of hot chocolate and drank it, and then cakes and bread and butter were served; then each lady took another cup of cold water, and here ended the repast.” Abigail Adams, writing to John Quincy Adams in 1785, described drinking chocolate for breakfast while in London.””

Cacao has a deep and rich history.  The interviewee was read the information to give a better perspective.  In response, she said, “Wow, I thought I knew a lot about Cacao, but apparently not.  I did not know that Abigail Adams drank chocolate for breakfast in London. That is very interesting.  It seems like chocolate was a delicacy in those days.  People of high class consumed it.  They made it popular.”  Next, I wanted to move the interview towards my next question. I asked, “How has chocolate affected your life in all areas? Do you consume it for health, pleasure, or perhaps both?

The interviewee replied, “I love chocolate for many different reasons. Chocolate is not just something I eat or drink for pleasure, but something I consume for my health as well. There are many ways to consume chocolate.  You can eat it from a chocolate bar, drink it hot chocolate, enjoy some chocolate ice cream, sprinkle it on desserts, and so much more.  Chocolate is just fun to prepare. You can enjoy it so many different ways.  As I mentioned before, I only eat organic chocolate that has a high percentage of Cacao in it.  The reason for that is because cacao has numerous health benefits.  Raw cacao contains, magnesium, Iron, Flavonoids, and PEA.”

Luke: “Where did you get this information from?” Interviewee: “From a Women’s Health article. I’ll go ahead and read you some of the article now. The article reads, ‘“Raw cacao is one of the best food sources of magnesium – a mineral that many of you lack from your diet. Magnesium is essential for energy production, for a healthy brain and nervous system, for our muscles and for strong bones and teeth. Magnesium may also support a healthy blood pressure. Cacao is a source of iron, which builds the blood and helps to transport oxygen around our body, as well as potassium, copper, zinc, manganese and selenium. Cacao can also be high in flavonoids, which have antioxidant activity. Raw cacao and flavonoid-rich chocolate have been linked with heart health benefits including increasing the good form of cholesterol (HDL) in our blood, lowering blood pressure and even improving vascular function in patients with congestive heart failure. These effects are thought to be primarily due to the antioxidants contained in the cacao.In addition, cacao contains a compound called phenylethylamine (PEA for short!). PEA is thought to elevate mood and support energy, and is said to be one of the reasons that many people love chocolate! Raw cacao is also very low in sugar, and of course does not contain any milk, so is suitable for those who are milk-sensitive or following a low-sugar diet”’ (Menato).  Luke: “Yes, chocolate is very good for you! I did not know all of that information.  I actually wrote a blog post for this class, and I quoted an article written by James Howe.  I’ll read you part of the article. It reads, ‘In the mid-1990s, with funding from the Mars Company, Hollenberg set out to prove that what protected the Kuna from heart disease was chocolate. As the research has progressed since then, he and other researchers have zeroed in on a “flavanol” in chocolate called epicatechin, which, he says, may protect against diabetes and cancer as well as high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks.”’ Interviewee: “I’m glad I eat and drink plenty of chocolate! That research really makes me grateful for Cacao.  It truly does impact your health in a positive way.”

At his point in the interview, it was my intention to steer the conversation towards social issues surrounding chocolate, and it’s production.  The interviewee has a history of being very passionate about human rights, so this topic was perfect for our conversation.  First, I wanted to gauge her familiarity with the subject.  After doing research, I was astounded from what I found.

In America chocolate isn’t given a second thought. Everywhere you turn there is chocolate. From candy to desserts there is no shortage. Most often, Americans do not give a second thought to were products we use and eat come from and the effects those products have on other societies in order to produce it for our enjoyment.  Luke:“Do you mind if at this point in the interview, we discuss the effects chocolate has on society?” Interviewee: “Of course not! I love being able to talk about these things because it brings awareness to the subject.” Luke: “Let me start off by reading from an interesting news posting from the BBC. It quotes, ‘African cocoa farms are still employing hundreds of thousands of children, the BBC has discovered, 10 years after the world’s leading chocolate companies promised to tackle child labor. Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa producer with as many as 800,000 children working in the industry, often in dangerous jobs’ Humphrey Hawksley reports from Ivory Coast. Most Americans today do not know this. It’s so important that people today are educated’” (BBC News).

Luke: “Another interesting article I found from Fortune.com reads, “Child labor in West African cocoa farming first became a cause célèbre around the turn of the century when a number of pieces of investigative journalism focused the world’s attention on the plight of children who had been trafficked to Ivory Coast to farm cocoa, often from other former French colonies such as Mali and Burkina Faso, and held as slave laborers. In a documentary that aired on the BBC, filmmakers interviewed young boys in Ivory Coast who said they’d been beaten and forced to work long hours without pay. One who said he’d been working on a cocoa farm for five years was asked what he thought about people enjoying chocolate in other parts of the world. “They are enjoying something that I suffered to make,” the boy answered. “They are eating my flesh.”” (Fortune.com).”

Interviewee: “Wow.  I knew that chocolate production has posed these kinds of risk’s to kids in Africa, but I was not aware of all these facts.  It honestly breaks my heart.” Luke: “It breaks my heart too because there’s not much we can do except boycott these companies who buy their chocolate from West Africa.  However, almost everyone buys their chocolate from there.  According to the same article, around 70 percent of the worlds cacao is grown there.  This means that they produce around 60 percent of the global market in chocolate.”

Luke: “Another source reports, “Holding a single large pod in one hand, each child has to strike the pod with a machete and pry it open with the tip of the blade to expose the cocoa beans. Every strike of the machete has the potential to slice a child’s flesh. The majority of children have scars on their hands, arms, legs or shoulders from the machetes. In addition to the hazards of using machetes, children are also exposed to agricultural chemicals on cocoa farms in Western Africa. Tropical regions such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast consistently deal with prolific insect populations and choose to spray the pods with large amounts of industrial chemicals. In Ghana, children as young as 10 spray the pods with these toxins without wearing protective clothing (foodispower).” Interviewee: “That is devastating.  It really makes me rethink who I will be buying my chocolate from!”

Luke: “I hope I haven’t turned you off from chocolate altogether! The reason I bring up these issues is because we as Americans need to be more aware.  It is all about bringing awareness to the issues at hand, and doing everything we can do to help.  For example, when you go to buy your chocolate, buy brands that are committed to eco-friendly production.  This way, you know that no child is suffering in an effort to produce it.  Another thing you can do is not buy from brands that are known for importing from West Africa.  Choose another brand.  It’s all about taking small steps toward a better tomorrow.  Anyway, I was so glad you accepted my invitation for this interview. You have really brought a fun atmosphere.  I have enjoyed getting to know you and your favorite chocolate better!” Interviewee: “Thank you so much Luke.  I had fun as well. Let’s raise our chocolate bars to a great interview!”

 

Works Cited

 

  1. http://www.chocolatebar.com/products/dark-chocolate-with-forest-mint/
  2. History of Chocolate: Chocolate in the American Colonies.” History of Chocolate: Chocolate in the American Colonies: The Colonial Williamsburg Official History & Citizenship Site,
  3. Menato, Francesca. “Cacao Powder Benefits | Why It’s Better Than Chocolate.” Women’s Health UK, womenshealthmag.co.uk/weight-loss/healthy-eating/2736/health-benefits-of-raw-cacao-over-chocolate/.
  4. “Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health: The Kuna Case Reconsidered.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, vol. 12, no. 1, 2012, pp. 43–52., doi:10.1525/gfc.2012.12.1.43.
  5. “Inside Big Chocolate’s Child Labor Problem.” Fortune, Fortune, fortune.com/big-chocolate-child-labor/.
  6. “Ivory Coast Cacao Farms Child Labour: Little Change.” Http://Www.bbc.com/News/World-Africa-15681986.

Eat More Organic Chocolate!

Chocolate has been around for thousands of years.  It was first discovered by “…Spanish con-quistadores among the Aztec and Maya—is characterized by consumption mostly in solid form rather than liquid…” (Howe).  Since then, chocolate has been consumed by virtually everyone with a sweet tooth.  However, many people are not aware of the health benefits of chocolate.  For example, Cacao, or Theobroma cacao, which are beans found in the tropical regions of Central and South America.  They contain numerous health benefits when harvested organically, and taste rather delicious as well.  In this blog, I want to give you, the reader, a historical background of Cacao, provide you with the health benefits, and finally share some tasty, easy recipes that you can try at home.

Cacao plant

The cacao bean, as seen above, grows on trees in the tropical parts Amazon Basin, Central, and South America. It was first discovered by “…the Maya Indians, an ancient people whose descendants still live in Central America, who first discovered the delights of cocoa as long ago as 600 AD” (Cadbury).  That is a long time! As long as civilization has been around, so has the sweet, organic cacao plant.

Christopher Columbus was said to have brought some back with him, after his fourth trip to the New World, but Europe was not quite ready to acknowledge its significance.  Actually,  “It was his fellow explorer, the Spanish Conquistador Don Hernán Cortés, who first realised their commercial value. He brought cocoa beans back to Spain in 1528 and very gradually, the custom of drinking the chocolate spread across Europe, reaching England in the 1650s” (Cadbury).  Cacao, the ancient chocolate of the the world, had just started its long journey to modern popularity.

modern cacao.jpg

In fact,  “By 1682, a British report detailed cocoa exports from Jamaica to Boston. By inference, cocoa exports into the colonies can be assumed to be used for local chocolate production, marking the beginning of chocolate production in the American colonies” (History of Chocolate: Chocolate in the American ColoniesSnyder).  It became so popular in North America, that even John Adams and his wife would have some with their morning breakfast.  Snyder records, ‘”John and Abigail Adams were very fond of chocolate. In 1779, John Adams, while in Spain, wrote, “Ladies drink chocolate in the Spanish fashion. Each lady took a cup of hot chocolate and drank it, and then cakes and bread and butter were served; then each lady took another cup of cold water, and here ended the repast.” Abigail Adams, writing to John Quincy Adams in 1785, described drinking chocolate for breakfast while in London.””

As Cacao became more popular, it’s health benefits became more known.  Snyder gives some interesting medical uses for chocolate in Colonial America: “Drinking chocolate was ascribed to have a variety of medical benefits. It was purported to promote weight gain to restore flesh to emaciated patients, especially to those who suffered from tuberculosis. It was used to stimulate the nervous systems of feeble patients, and also to calm patients who were over-stimulated such as soldiers fresh from battle. It could improve digestion, and was used to bind to medicines to make them more palatable to patients.”  Even then, people were aware of the benefits of the organic cacao.

James Howe writes an interesting scholarly article called, “Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health, The Kuna Case Reconsidered”, on medical research surrounding this ancient plant.  He begins,  “This research program encompasses every sort of laboratory and field investigation—studies of rats fed a chocolate diet; of the nutritional and chemical makeup of cacao; of the effects of ingesting chocolate on human platelet function, immune response, and blood flow to the extremities; and of chocolate consumption and health in samples drawn from such populations as diabetics, heart transplant recipients, German smokers, and elderly residents of Amsterdam.” The research project essentially followed and recored two groups of indigenous Panamanian people called the Kuna or Tule.  One group lived in urban areas, and the other lived in the countryside.  The results were shocking.

He deducted, “In the mid-1990s, with funding from the Mars Company, Hollenberg set out to prove that what protected the Kuna from heart disease was chocolate. As the research has progressed since then, he and other researchers have zeroed in on a “flavanol” in chocolate called epicatechin, which, he says, may protect against diabetes and cancer as well as high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks.” So, are the Kuna people more healthy?  Does drinking organic cacao help you live longer? Hollenberg seemed to think so.  Howe writes, ‘”On his research Web site, he (Hollenberg) characterizes cocoa as “their primary, indeed sole drink,” and in another place he claims that “for most Kuna people, it is the only thing they drink from when they are weaned to the day they die.  Overall, he says, the Kuna “probably have the most flavanoid-rich diet of any population,” all of it derived [from] their own farms: “The Kuna are exposed to more cocoa than anyone else on earth, and they are living longer.”‘  The bottom line? Drink more organic chocolate!

Eating organic chocolate has been proven to be good for your overall health.  Buffy Allen, who published a blog on the benefits of cacao on Begoodorganics, gives us five very helpful reasons why we should consume more cacao.  First, it  has “40 Times the Antioxidants of Blueberries.”  Secondly, it contains the “Highest Plant-Based Source of Iron.”  Thirdly, it is “Full of Magnesium for a Healthy Heart & Brain.” Fourthly, it has “More Calcium Than Cow’s Milk.” And lastly, it’s “A Natural Mood Elevator and Anti-Depressant.”  Not only is cacao healthy, but its also a natural antidepressant! So, have I convinced you to eat cacao yet? Great! Here are some simple recipes you can try at home.

cacao drink.jpg

This recipe is from Buffy Ellen’s blog (Which I highly recommend you visit) and is simple, and easy.  The directions are as follows:

“Add 1 Tbsp of raw cacao powder to a mug, pour in 1c of warmed plant-based milk, and add 1-2 tsp of natural organic unprocessed sweetener such as yacon syrupagave syrupcoconut nectar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup.  Or for a super easy version, try my Warming Hot Cacao Chocolate recipe.

For a cold choccie milk, add 1 Tbsp of hot water to the raw cacao powder and sweetener first to dissolve, then add 1c of cold milk and a couple of ice cubes (or try this Chocolate Milk recipe).

Note: some studies have shown that dairy products block the absorption of antioxidants and calcium in cacao, so save the cow’s milk for the calfs.”  And that’s all you need to enjoy a delicious cup of hot, healthy, organic, cacao hot chocolate!

I hope this blog has given you a good understanding of how cacao was first discovered, its ancient history, its transportation into Colonial America, it’s many health benefits, and finally some easy knowledge on how to prepare it for yourself.  Theres only one more thing left to do: Eat more organic chocolate!

Works Cited

  1. “Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health: The Kuna Case Reconsidered.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, vol. 12, no. 1, 2012, pp. 43–52., doi:10.1525/gfc.2012.12.1.43.
  2. Cacao: 5 Little Known Benefits of This Amazonian Superfood … http://www.bing.com
  3. http://www.iconinc.com.au, Icon.Inc -. “Discovering Chocolate.” Cadbury, http://www.cadbury.com.au/About-Chocolate/Discovering-Chocolate.aspx.
  4. “History of Chocolate: Chocolate in the American Colonies.” History of Chocolate: Chocolate in the American Colonies : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History & Citizenship Site,
  5. http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume9/jan11/featurearticle.cfm.