Information on raw, organic, and fair trade dark chocolate:
health benefits + what and where to buy.
The Magic of Dark Chocolate
If you're like me, you're in love with chocolate. Most of the world is in love with chocolate. And if you've seen the research, you know how healthy chocolate can be for you. If you're eating the right kind of chocolate in the right amounts, research suggests that dark chocolate can:
Ongoing research shows other possible benefits, but in short, we know that the right kind of chocolate is more than just delicious. It's nutritious too. But what is the best chocolate to consume ... and where can you get the best deal on it?
The Power of Raw
First, let's be clear: most of the studies I'm aware of have been done on cooked dark chocolate. You know, the kind you find in any grocery store. The studies haven't distinguished between cooked and raw, organic and conventional, or anything along these lines. The one thing they tend to agree on, however, is that you shouldn't eat more than about one ounce a day, and some suggest as little as about 10 grams a day.
But if you ask most of the natural health community, you'll get the resounding message that raw chocolate gives you the most powerful health benefits because raw keeps all of the natural elements of cacao (the bean used to make chocolate) in the best shape.
In fact, many people notice the power of raw chocolate simply by eating it -- the effects are far more intense than when you eat cooked chocolate. This means you can eat less of it (which is recommended by the studies anyway) while still seeing results. I'm talking about things like more energy and a huge lift in mood.
Amazon offers a number of raw chocolates at good prices.
One of my favorites is Gnosis Pom Acai. You can buy Gnosis Chocolate direct.
Another preference in the natural health community is organic chocolate for two primary reasons: first, organic growing usually involves growing in natural settings rather than on farms. The cacao has the opportunity to draw more nutrients from its environment, and these are passed along to you.
The other important point is that -- as we know -- cacao has a high fat content. This is healthy fat when eaten in moderation. But like any fat, it stores toxins. When cacao isn't organic, it's one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and the toxins from these sprays are stored in the fat, ready for you to consume. Gross. It costs more, but I recommend choosing organic if you can.
Choosing Fair Trade
From a moral standpoint, I hope that everyone chooses fair trade chocolate once they understand that slavery -- including children -- is a widespread problem in the chocolate industry. This is especially true of any chocolate grown in Africa, and most of the mainstream chocolate you can buy is likely tainted.
To avoid supporting slavery, simply look for some sort of 3rd party certification regarding fair trade. I understand that people feel some certifications are more valid than others, and we don't live in a perfect world, so some standards may be higher. But we can push for what's right by supporting fair trade, and hopefully the standards will continue to improve with time.
The nice thing about fair trade is that it doesn't have to cost much more than conventional chocolate, and it IS possible for us to end chocolate slavery through our conscious choices.
Types of Cocoa Beans
Much like you have high quality and low quality coffee beans (arabica vs. robusta), cacao or "cocoa" beans come in 3 basic varieties.
Forastero is the low-grade, mass-produced bean that comprises about 95% of the cocoa beans grown worldwide. It is bland and basically has to be burned (terrible for health purposes) to get any flavor out of it.
Criollo is the highest-grade option. It is the rarest type, difficult to grow, and a delicacy. Because of the farming methods, it's likely to have the most possible nutrients and has a complex, multi-layered flavor.
Trinitario is a natural hybrid of the other two, so this is your mid-grade option.
Unless a company tells you what kind of beans they're using and where they get them from, you won't know what you're buying. But if you can get chocolate made of criollo beans, you'll get the best possible chocolate experience.
Raw Chocolate Companies
There is a growing number of raw chocolate companies today. As far as I know, they're all small operations, because high-volume factories have to choose lower grade ingredients and methods for spitting chocolate out quickly.
What I LOVE about buying raw chocolate is that every raw chocolate company I've found is really sincere about providing you with something of quality with your health and the health of the earth in mind. Each has its own approach and offers its own value, but most (if not all) use organic and fair trade ingredients, and often choose environmentally friendly packaging. Some will also travel to their farm sources to verify the farming conditions.
Raw Chocolate Costs
Because raw chocolate uses premium ingredients, supports fair trade, and uses more expensive methods to bring you a raw product, costs are much higher for raw chocolate than for anything cooked. Typically you'll see prices 3 to 4 times higher than organic cooked chocolate.
Keep in mind that you can EAT LESS and enjoy a premium product with a powerful health impact, and this effectively lowers the cost. But I have scoured the web and find that costs are typically 10 to 18 cents per gram. The lower prices typically come with bulk purchases and possibly low-grade beans. A two-ounce bar of raw chocolate will usually cost about $7 to $10, and a 10 gram piece bought in bulk will cost $1.00 to $1.80.
If you're buying gift packages or truffles, you're likely to pay more. As an example, one of the most popular raw chocolates costs about 14 cents per gram for its two-ounce bars; its specialty bars are more than 21 cents per gram. And a pack of 4 truffles is 37.5 cents per gram. This pricing is typical of the industry.
Premium Raw Chocolate
One of the most exciting finds for me has been ChocoNat, because I've never found a better raw chocolate experience, and its competitive on price.
ChocoNat is sold on a referral basis, but unlike many companies that give referrals a bad name, it does NOT sell for more than its retail competition. So I encourage you to give this a moment of your attention. You don't have to sell anything!
ChocoNat uses premium Criollo beans that are shipped within just a couple days of being picked, so they are FRESH. If you know chocolate, you will taste the difference! Many raw chocolate companies do NOT use beans of this grade.
While ChocoNat is raw chocolate, they've found a way of making the chocolate with a traditional chocolate "snap." Most raw chocolate is soft and gives a different experience than people are used to. Like many raw chocolate companies, they also offer some related products.
Best of all, ChocoNat is a great value. As a Customer, you pay around 17 cents per gram (typical of the best raw chocolates) when you use my link below to save 20%. (Or about 12 cents per gram for truffles.)
As a Member, you pay 14 to 15 cents per gram when purchasing boxes of chocolate. Truffles cost about 10 cents per gram.
Purchase as a Customer
No membership fees. No referral business. Just great raw chocolate and other premium products. Use my link to save 20%. (The discount will be applied automatically when you check out.)
Purchase as a Member
Want the best prices possible for ChocoNat? Members save 30% on boxes of chocolate, and get the deepest discounts on other products when purchasing at least $50/month on autoship.
There is NO COST to becoming a member. Simply buy the chocolate you wish to enjoy.