Written by Christopher Kelly
Aug. 29, 2016
Christopher: Hello and welcome to the Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast. My name is Christopher Kelly and today I’m joined by my good friend Torea Rodriguez. Hi Torea!
Torea: Hi! How’s it going?
Christopher: Good. So we’re broadcasting in glorious mono from our Bonny Doon studios and it is raining. I promised Torea the sunshine and it’s raining. I can’t believe it. It’s August in California and it’s raining, whatever next. Today, we’re going to talk about chocolate.
Torea: My favorite. I love to kick out on cocoa and chocolate.
Christopher: For those of you who don’t know Torea, Torea has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and chocolate is one of her favorite subjects. But before we get into the details Torea, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself. You’ve been on the podcast a couple of times before and you have an incredibly interesting story and I will link to this in the show notes for this episode. And I already encourage people to listen to those. But can you just give us the potted version to encourage people to go and listen to the full version?
Torea: Sure. Let’s see. So I did my undergrad in biochemistry and for awhile went into technology and worked in the tech industry in Silicon Valley and hated cubicle life. Decided that I was going to become a professional pilot, so I went through all the training and became a professional pilot and started flying charter and for a couple of corporations in the Bay Area. And it was at that time that I did a routine medical exam, an annual exam actually before my FAA medical. And she found that there was a problem with the thyroid. So we started doing some investigation that went a long with a lot of fatigue. I wasn’t recovering very well sleeping a lot like crazy 14 hour nights of sleep and still feeling like I was run over by a Mack truck the night before.
So we started doing further investigation and that’s when we realized that I had Hashimoto’s. And I found an endocrinologist, was working with him, got to the point where I wasn’t able to pass my FAA medical. And I went with a month remaining and I’ve said, "We need to fix this. I’m going to have to stop flying and…" He kind of didn’t really know what else to do with his roster of stuff, so he kind of reached in to his tool bag like, "Well, you know, the only thing that I can do now is we can eradiate the thyroid and cut out the rest of tissue." And that’s when I put the major breaks on. That wasn’t an experience I was ready to go through and started turning towards more natural healing. And in that process, I realized that with Hashimoto’s being an autoimmune disease, I don’t have a disease of the thyroid really, that’s kind of like the secondary effect of autoimmunity. I have disease of the immune system. And the immune system is what where I need to focus my attention and so in that process, I fell in love with biochemistry all over again, so it’s kind of come full circle.
Christopher: This time it mattered?
Torea: This time it completely mattered which is a huge difference when you’re just in stack of books, university, and so now this time, it was me, it was my life. And it was my health and it was how I felt and I wanted to figure it out and so I fell in love with it again, and found FDN as a certification. So I decided that I get certified so I can help other people. So now, you and I do very similar roles.
Christopher: Right, the function medicine has been a forced necessity. And you have a lot in common with Fabian Popa who I interviewed and he talked about his recovery from antibiotics injury. And the thing that you both have in common is you’re extremely bright, technical, you enjoy the technical details and you’ve come to functional medicine as a tool to fix your own problems. And you’re actually further than the road than Fabian. I don’t know whether this will ever happen for him but it’s only for you now. You used those same tools and techniques to help other people recover their health. And I think it’s the coolest thing in the world to see people take charge and let’s get it done.
Torea: Absolutely and it’s totally possible and there has been a lot of really great recoveries in both my clients and your clients and I think it’s a fantastic tool not only for recovery but also for ongoing health. Like you and I will do labs on a regular basis on our own.
Christopher: Yeah, just do it for fun.
Torea: Kind of for fun but also kind of as a check up, right? You and I were just looking at my blood chemistry a few minutes ago and then it’s like, yeah, it’s a check up and things are actually looking great compared to where they were a couple of years ago but there’s a few things now that I can tweak and work on and --
Christopher: And I just interviewed Jeremy Powers who is the National Cyclocross Champion. And he’s running blood chemistry every month.
Torea: One as extensive as the one that you ran?
Christopher: Almost. Yeah.
Torea: Oh, my gosh, that’s amazing.
Christopher: I think the testing is a powerful tool and if you are interested in the testing, you can come to the front page of website, book a free a consultation and talk to someone about testing. And then I think there’s an important and perhaps subtle difference between the types of people that we work with. So I work with athletes, mostly endurance athletes. Can you talk about the sort of people that you work with, Torea?
Torea: Yeah, I work with people who have either autoimmunity, one form or another. It doesn’t have to be thyroid, it can be rheumatoid arthritis, it could be something else, or I also seem to attract clients who have a lot of difficulty. They’ve tried elimination diets which are a very effective tool but I think sometimes they get used for too long. And can really cause some trouble if you’re not also looking at the functional medicine and the biochemistry and the co-infections and all of those other things. And they end up with this really crazy food and intolerances. Like I have people that come to me with -- their down to 10 foods.
Christopher: Oh, really, I never see that?
Torea: You don’t see that at all and I see that quite often and we work together to really focus on detox, and liver function, and gut function. And over a period of time that starts to get better and they can start reintroducing foods again. So I’ve had a lot of success there too.
Christopher: Cool! ToreaRodriguez.com.
Torea: Show notes because it’s impossible to hear it and know how to spell it. So look at the show notes.
Christopher: Okay. So that’s who you’re talking to. And like I said today’s podcast is all about cacao or chocolate or Cocoa it’s seems to have many synonyms.
Torea: It does and when you get into it, I guess the geek snobbery in me it’s cacao.
Christopher: It’s cacao, yes.
Torea: That’s what I’m interested in. Like chocolate at the store becomes more of confection. We’ll talk about that later but…
Christopher: I’m going to talk about some of the evidence that supports that consumption of chocolate and I think that’s not really going to be a difficult sell. I think that selling chocolate probably should be --
Torea: What you’re telling me I can eat chocolate every day? Are you kidding me? That’s an easy sell.
Christopher: I should probably make some disclosures here which are that I am selling chocolate, literally, selling chocolate. So if you leave me a five-star review on iTunes and then email support at NourishBalanceThrive.com, I will ship you a bar of excellent chocolate. So this is going to be a part of what we’re going to talk about today, is that we think that chocolate has been misrepresented. It’s been bastardized it’s been turned into a trouble food for no good reason. And the bar of chocolate that I’m going to ship you is made by a boutique manufacturer from New York. Their company is called Fruition. It’s a 100% bar so there’s no sugar in it and it still tastes awesome because it’s really good quality chocolate. So yeah, leave me a five-star review on iTunes and I will send you a bar of chocolate if you send me your shipping address to support@NourishmentBalanceThrive.com. Offer limited to the first 100 five-star reviews and US residents only. And I’m also going to go start giving people a bar of chocolate when they spend more than a $100 bucks on supplements in my web store.
So there’s a couple of ways that you can get a hold of this amazing chocolate or you can just buy it from me as well. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes too if you prefer it that way.
Torea: So Tommy sent you this articles and you sent them to me and I was reading through them and I was fascinated that there’s a lot of flavonoids in chocolate but tell me a little bit about like how does it compare to wine, like everybody says wine is still great for flavonoids? Like what’s the deal with cacao flavonoids versus wine flavonoids.
Christopher: Yes, so the problem with the anthoxanthins in wine is they react with other compounds in the wine and end up in the sediment. So the Flavonoids in wine are not going to be available as they are in other foods. And then there are berries, anything with color, red onions, red cabbage, apples, green tea, all of those foods are going to have to the flavonoids in them. But cacao has the highest concentration of flavonoids so it's of interest for that reason.
Torea: Very cool. And then there was also some other effects that we saw in those studies, most notably blood pressure and blood sugar so talk about blood pressure for a second.
Christopher: So it would appear that flavonoids, they increase the bioavailability of nitric oxide. And that leads to vasodilation and a decrease of blood pressure and it doesn’t sound like much. Three millimeters of mercury but that is actually a huge reduction in risk and it is as effective as the first line of antihypertensive drugs. So just taking cacao could be as effective as taking a drug.
Torea: That’s fascinating. I knew that a lot of family members are on those drugs and you know would they have needed to be and had they been eating cacao on a regular basis.
Christopher: Yeah, and this is strong evidence. And I’ll link to the evidence so that people can review this for themselves but I’m talking about evidence that came from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and they had paper called the Effects of Cacao on Blood Pressure. They basically taken a whole bunch of reviews that were published online and then they filtered them and look for publication bias and then published the findings like combined them all and published the findings based on several other studies. Most people consider the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews to be a very high standard of evidence.
Torea: And then the other question that I had for you Chris is that ketogenic diets have worked out really well for you and really well for me and also for a lot of our clients. And so blood sugar is something that we look at and are always concerned about increase to blood sugar. These reviews and articles that you sent me were talking about the effect of cacao on blood sugar itself.
Christopher: So there’s one trial that showed a significant reduction in fasting serum insulin and that was 2.65 micro IU/ml and then also insulin after a glucose challenge there was a reduction of 17 micro IU/ml at 30 minutes after a glucose challenge. So it would appear the flavonols in cacao may improve insulin sensitivity as well as having this beneficial effect of increasing nitric oxide and lowering blood pressure.
Torea: Now would you say that what you just read to simply it a little bit more is when we eat food we have a normal response with insulin to that food depending upon how much sugar is in that food that we eat. So what you’re basically saying then is that curve response that peak that we got of blood sugar is actually lower?
Christopher: So it may be that the cocoa flavonols, all of these mechanisms, I don’t think they’re well understood?
Torea: Of course.
Christopher: Yeah, that’s how this type of science works. Its work starts from the top and works its way down. So they only bother looking at mechanism once they figure out that it does something interesting, right? So I think they’re still trying to figure out these mechanisms but my understanding was that the flavonols in cacao they affected Tyrosine phosphorylation and may act like insulin itself. So it’s almost like you’re taking insulin with the food that you’re eating, even though it’s not insulin?
Torea: That’s fascinating.
Christopher: So yeah, I’ll link to Khan Academy video that I found helpful and it’s called Enzyme Linked Receptors and they talk about tyrosine phosphorylation and insulin receptors in that video that people might find helpful. So we first discovered that cacao had this blood pressure lowering effect by studying this group of people called the Kuna Indians. And the Kuna Indians live on an Island just off Panama and it was noted that the blood pressure was lower for the people that lived on the Islands than the islanders that went to the Mainlands. And so they were able to figure out there was something special about something that they were doing with either their diet and their lifestyle. And they eventually pinned it down to the cacao consumption which was 10 times less in the Indians that went to the Mainlands. And they were able to isolate the cacao and separate it from anything else including salt intake. And so that’s how we figured out that cacao has a blood pressure lowering effect.
Now, what’s interesting is that the history that came before this discovery and that’s comes with Christopher Columbus in 1502 who discovered that cacao from this Indians and he brought it back to Europe where the Europeans thought it was too bitter. And so they used processing including heating up to 120 degrees, mixing it, alkalizing it, adding sugar, milk, vanilla, emulsifiers and turned into what we know as chocolate today. And as we get into a little bit later, they maybe some problems, as I've said, with what Christopher Columbus did with -- maybe it wasn’t him personally. Maybe he just brought the cacao back from --
Torea: I think he probably just want it back, yeah.
Christopher: Yeah, so like I said selling chocolates should be like selling sex but there is some evidence that suggests that it lowers blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity. And regarding the dose, it’s difficult because it really depends on the type of chocolate that you’re eating. It's going to very much depend on the type of bean, where it’s grown, how much processing was done. But in the Cochrane meta-review, they were looking at 6 grams of the flavonol which is equivalent to 100 grams of dark chocolate. And just to give you some kind of baseline, the Fruition Bar that I’m selling is 60 grams of dark chocolate. In fact it’s a 100% but --
Torea: Can we talk about dark chocolate for a second?
Christopher: Yeah, okay let’s stop there and talk about dark chocolate.
Torea: So let’s talk about dark chocolate. So when you read that 6 grams in the Cochrane review, did they define dark chocolate in terms of what percentage of cacao was in the bar?
Christopher: That’s a really good question. I need to go back and check. And I think you’re right, it’s certainly not a 100%. So it's going to have some milk and some sugar in it. And I think if I recall correctly, that it was 60% dark chocolate.
Torea: Yeah, so typically dark chocolate is define as anything that’s over 60% percent.
Torea: The percentage is 60% or higher. That percentage, so that your listeners know, has more to do with identifying the percentage of cacao in bar. And a lot of times these bars don’t even have a percent.
Torea: Which when it’s actually a candy bar, they’re not required to put on a percentage but if they are going to say it’s dark chocolate for example and differentiate themselves usually it comes with a percentage and really paying attention to that is going to help them determine which bars are going to have more cacao in them to get these flavonoids.
Christopher: Right. I’m just looking at the Cochrane paper now and it’s very non-specific. It says containing 50 to 90% cacao which is almost useless. It's so non-specific. But there’s another study that I will of course link to and that was a randomize control double blinded cross over trial where they looked at 10 grams of cacao in a very low caloric, 38 calories with 18 milligrams of flavonol content and that was significant in their findings. So I think we can conclude from this that you do not need that much cacao to get some of the blood pressure lowering and insulin sensitizing effects.
Torea: Yeah, so I mean the bar that you’re talking about it 60 grams and that is 100%. So that’s going to be a much higher concentration of the flavonols than a 100 grams of dark chocolate that’s 78% for example. So yeah, they may not need to eat a whole bar.
Torea: Maybe not?
Christopher: Which I can easily do. But, yeah, let's talk about quality of chocolate first of all because there’s lots of things I’ve been introduced to since I’ve moved to America that I previously thought I didn’t like and now I realized that I just never had the good version of that thing. So tequila is one example. I thought that Jose Cuervo was good tequila, right? And then somebody somewhere introduced me to a good quality sipping tequila and it just totally changed my world. And I don’t drink that now but I got the point at the time. And then chocolate is another thing I thought that I only like chocolate with milk and sugar in it. And I can remember as kid really liking the white chocolate which is not really chocolate at all. It’s cocoa butter and sugar.
Torea: It’s cocoa butter and sugar.
Christopher: Yeah. So has literally none of the flavonols that we’ve been talking about. And so it was Torea that introduced me really good quality chocolate and then I realized that I could enjoy the flavor as long as it was a really good quality chocolate. So I’m sure there are some people listening and thinking "No way. I’m not eating a 100% dark chocolate. That’s going to taste like shit." And some 100% dark chocolate does taste like shit.
Torea: Baking chocolate and it’s horrible.
Christopher: Yeah, exactly. So I tried this, like after Torea introduced me to this chocolate, I thought, "Screw that, I’m not paying $12 a bar for it. I’m going to go to Amazon just to get 100% chocolate, I’m sure it’s all the same." And this stuff turned up. First of all it’s like chalk. Like the texture of it is like chalk and it does, it taste -- it's bitter as all hell. And now once you taste that you can understand why they want to do all these processing, in particular the Dutching which is just to reduce the acidity.
Torea: Yeah, let’s talk about Dutch process. You've actually researched it and I just knew it was a bastardization of chocolate but tell us a little bit of what it does and like how it changes the effects of cacao.
Christopher: Yeah, so it’s just a process that alkalizes that chocolate to a pH of between 7 and 8, so fairly neutral. But that process can reduce the flavonol content to less than 10 milligrams per 100 grams. So that’s about 0.001%. So the Dutching process basically removes the compound of interest. I’ve been drinking fat fiber which is my MCT oil powder in a raw cacao beverage and you can get this from your local hippie supermarket. It should be in the bulk beans. But be careful that you don’t get the Dutch process version because it may test better because it’s less acidic and less bitter but they removed the compound of interest which is the flavonols.
Torea: People would say that that’s kind of like drinking decaf coffee what’s the point?
Torea: So it’s kind of similar to that.
Christopher: Exactly. So yeah, the sugar thing I think is interesting as well, obviously for me eating a high-fat ketogenic diet, I can’t eat a lot of dark chocolate with sugar in it. Even 60% dark chocolate and I assure I would have considered that very dark when I was 18 years old. That’s surely enough sugar to knock me out of ketosis if I eat even more than a couple of squares. So that’s not going to work and do you think the dark chocolate you know you worked with a lot of people that have problems with sugar and cutting sugar out of their diet and do you think, is there a level in your mind or is it very individual where okay if this person is eating a lot of dark chocolate but it still has a certain amount of sugar in it and it’s going to reinforce that addiction and they’re not going to be able to break the vicious cycle.
Torea: Yeah, I usually tell people to up it to 80% or higher like you know if you are still eating a lot of sweets and your taste buds haven’t normalized yet to a different way of tasting food because when you get rid of the sugar you start to actually taste flavors of food again. I think we were at dinner together not too long ago and I was talking about how absolutely sweet these vegetables were.
Torea: And I was really concerned about how much sugar content was in them, it was summer squash. Like who thinks that summer squash is sweet but it was really, really sweet and so your taste buds will change when you take out the white sugar from your diet from your diet. But I start people at 80% because I know they’re getting a high enough percentage of the flavonols that are in the cacao to get the beneficial nature of chocolate but they’re not getting as much sugar.
Torea: So I start them there.
Christopher: People’s palates they readjust and everything taste sweet. You know it was something that I use to say all the time too like, "Judy, did you put honey in this. Is there sugar in this." like it tastes like too sweet to me. And that’s what it is, it’s your palate is readjusting. And if you give a 100% dark chocolate to anyone that’s been eating high sugar diet, they’re probably not going to like it no matter how good a quality the chocolate is for that reason. And then there’s the autoimmune aspect of this. So the autoimmune Paleo diet that we have both benefitted from greatly and both used with our clients is a very beneficial elimination diet and chocolate is certainly not included in that diet.
But what do you think is going on here? Do you think it’s really the chocolate or do you think it’s the dairy and the sugar maybe and the emulsifiers, right? So they put lecithin in…
Torea: Oh, yeah. Lots of other things in chocolate. Yeah, so which we can get to in a minute like the types of things that get put into chocolate but for AIP specifically and autoimmune protocol specifically, you know there’s a couple of reasons why chocolate is eliminated for a period of time, one is because it’s a seed.
Torea: Cacao as a seed, right? And so as we know that seeds have lectins in them and so we’re taking away the lectins from the diet.
Christopher: Right. And so does everything. Lectins are in everything. That's why I find --
Torea: They are. They are in everything but they’re in really high concentration in nuts and seeds. And so that’s part of the reason why they are taken out of the autoimmune protocol. So that you get a period of time of rest of not having to deal with those compounds in your GI tract. The other reason that cacao is in there is because it can be cross-reactive from an autoimmune stand point to gliadin, so can coffee, so can a whole bunch of other foods which is why Cyrex has a complete cross-reactive array, that panel, and that's specifically to figure out has your immune system picked up antibodies to chocolate or coffee or Brewer's yeast or all of these other things that could be causing your immune to have this always on, over reactive fight mode all the time. So that’s why it’s in that as elimination specifically.
But when people reintroduce it, what I found and what I found for me actually is when I reintroduce chocolate as a food to test. I was reintroducing 80% cacao a good craft maker, right? So I knew it was cocoa beans and sugar. Those were the two ingredients. And I started to get some of my symptoms back and I got very, very sad because I love cacao. And then it dawned on me I wonder if it’s the sugar because I wasn’t testing cacao as a single variable. I’d introduced two things, I introduced sugar and I introduced cacao.
Christopher: It's odd, I mean, everything has a -- I mean this compound, I mean no thing is like a single --
Torea: Right, yeah, single variant analysis and functional medicine good luck.
Christopher: Yeah, exactly. Maybe the bulletproofed, the CAMCT oil perhaps is about as close as you get to a single ingredient.
Torea: Exactly, so when I reintroduced a 100% cacao, I realized I wasn’t reacting to it and that it was the sugar. So that was a huge clue for me that for my autoimmune disease sugar is a major driver for me to have a regression.
Christopher: And then also it’s quite common to see soy as well?
Torea: Yeah, a lot of times emulsifiers are used. Soy lecithin is a very common emulsifier that’s used. Soy is not a great compound if you’re going to be eating tons and tons and tons of it.
Torea: So if you are on a one-bar-a-day consumption habit, then having soy lecithin as filler probably isn’t the best thing for you.
Christopher: You probably need to have a true allergy to soy before that was going to be a problem. Yeah, probably there never been an issue for healthy person.
Torea: Yeah, I mean soy we do know it has estrogen-like compounds. It can be an endocrine disruptor in that sense. I mean you’ve got to be eating edamame and soy sauce and eating a lot of soy stuff for that kind of level to have that kind of an effect. But if it’s a bar that you’re eating a couple of times a week and it has soy lecithin in it, I’m not really that worried about it.
Christopher: Let’s talk about the different types of chocolate manufacturers that exist. There’s a number of companies that especially Hershey's or Cadbury or something like that.
Christopher: Nestle, right, yeah, so that’s just kind of all under the same --
Torea: Big food.
Christopher: Yeah, exactly, umbrella industrialized food and the Fruition brands that I become very fond of is not like those chocolates at all and you certainly can’t find like we can’t buy this in the supermarket, right?
Torea: No. And so there’s big food industry chocolate or big chocolate and those are going to be the Cadburys, and the Nestles, and the Hersheys and those kinds of things. And then there’s what’s popping up a lot now across the globe are craft makers. And they’re very much about small batch. They care about the quality of where the beans come from. How the people are treated that handled the beans every step along the way and usually about the quality ingredients.
Now, it’s become somewhat trendy to be a craft chocolate maker. So this is where the lines get really blurred for the consumer, is they see this really beautiful package that’s very smartly marketed and you know it’s an 80% chocolate and they’re calling themselves a craft maker but when you look at the ingredients, if it’s more than like three ingredients that are not cocoa beans and sugar, you’re probably seeing things like cocoa mass, cocoa powder, cocoa butter. Well, yes, they are derivatives of cacao. Right? But they’ve been highly processed. So that cocoa mass and cocoa powder, we don’t know if it was Dutch processed.
Torea: Where did they get if from? Did they get it from the growers? No they probably didn’t. They probably got it from a big conglomerate that’s just putting a bunch of beans together and then processing it and selling of the parts is kind of what happens and you’d mention mouthfeel like very dry and powdery like mouthfeel of that baking chocolate?
Christopher: Yeah, it’s a hallmark of a craft chocolate.
Torea: Total hallmark of a craft chocolate and unfortunately there are a lot of these craft small makers that are just getting started in cacao production and this is how they’re doing it. They’re basically melting down ingredients and then letting them reform as bars. Whereas the craft makers that I’ve been really fond of and really enjoy their chocolate. They’re getting the beans imported from the country of origin. They’re working with the growers directly. They all use machines to grind but they’re grinding the beans themselves. They’re doing the whole processing aside from the fermentation themselves. And so often times a really good way to find out what the ingredients are is to look at the ingredients and does it say the word bean? Like that’s that total key. If it says cocoa beans, you’ve got something that’s actually really good. If it says cocoa powder and cocoa butter, sure it’s probably not going to be that great.
Christopher: So yeah, you got to be aware of some of these brands which are purporting to be craft chocolate makers but they’re not. They’re really just in the wallpaper business.
Torea: Pretty much.
Christopher: So what that means is that, the wrap is going to look fancy but what’s inside is not all that. So talk to me about some of the ethical concerns and what you have you read, what do you know about the ways that some of the workers are treated that are growing these cacao beans.
Torea: Yeah, so as you know, price drives everything, right? So and to get something mass produced and mass consumed the price needs to be low. And in order to that, what will happen is this big companies will work with the number of farms across all different plantations, all different areas for two reasons. One, to keep the cost low, two, to keep the taste the same. A Hershey’s bar will taste like Hershey’s bar, it doesn’t really matter. These craft chocolate makers for example, this Fruition bar that you’re selling, I’m not sure what batch you’re getting but they actually have the batch number written in the back.
Christopher: Right, they'll all be different.
Torea: Batch three tastes slightly different than batch four because there are so many different variables. But part of the downside of this big chocolate industry is that they are trying to cut the cost so much that the farmers get cut out of the money. There are a lot of middle men involved. And in some country there’s actually child slavery involved. And so it’s kind of a dirty business, it’s kind of what we saw with banana production and all of the other types of commodities that get really worldwide and a lot of high demand. We see a lot of that. So that craft maker is here in the United States are definitely trying to work directly with the farms as much as possible. And the bars are going to cause more. And in my opinion they taste better and everybody gets paid fairly. So it’s part of the fair trade vision. But also it's really just knowing who the makers are and how they’re treating the people that are involved in the chain of events.
Christopher: Right. And is there’s a way to know when you look at the wrapper on a chocolate, is there a way to know that’s it’s been grown and harvested ethically?
Torea: There are some bars that you’ll see like a lot of the bars that you’ll find in Whole Foods actually say fair trade.
Christopher: Oh, really?
Torea: Yeah, and they might be fair trade but then you look at the ingredients and there are cocoa mass and cocoa butter. And so a portion of it should be fair trade, I’m sure. There are some certifications but with these craft makers it’s really -- right now there’s no certification label on the bars and that kind of thing. It’s really kind of getting to know that craft makers and asking them. Is just like going to farmers market and then asking the farmer do you use chemicals when they can’t afford an organic certification, same kind of thing, so it’s really getting to know the people.
Christopher: Yeah, we’ve seen that all the time in the farmers market. You say, "Oh, is this organic?" He says, "No, it’s not organic certified, I grew this and I didn’t put anything on it. You’ve got my word." I'm like, "Okay, that's probably, I mean, that is as good as you are going to get."
I think these companies have great transparency as well, don’t they? They like to put their stuff outside. Usually, they have like shops you can go and visit and they like you to see them like actually doing what they do. I’ve certainly seen a Mutari. So there’s a local place here in Sta. Cruz, a local beans-to-bar, just recently become a bean-to-bar maker. And I’ve seen the guys sat there like sorting through the cocoa beans and like they won’t need to know that they’re doing the right thing. And so if you ask them I’m sure they will answer those questions.
Torea: Yeah. In a lot of cities, there are shops popping up that you’ll find that are carrying this really makers and you’ll start to notice the same makers over and over. Portland has a couple of them for example, one is called the Meadow, and the other one is called Cacao. Palo Alto has the Chocolate Garage. There’s those types of stores that are popping up that will not only educate you about the different makers and they’re going to know for sure whether or not they’re an ethical producer. But there are also these shops that they’re going to carry only the best bars in the world. So that’s a really good place to start and once you start to know like which makers you like make a road trip out of it. And go visit some of these makers. We did that on our last road trip. We visited two makers while we were touring the pacific North West and it was a lot of fun to get to know them.
Christopher: Did you see Willy Wonka?
Torea: I did not see Willy Wonka but we saw some of the equipment in the Willy Wonka factory for sure.
Christopher: I should link to the chocolate characters as well. I mean, that’s basically what they do right? Because it’s such a difficult industry to navigate they do that for you and you know that when you’re buying chocolate from them that it’s going to be a craft made good quality bar that’s made without ethical concerns. And so yeah, I should link to them too because I know the 100% bar that I’m selling is not going to be for everyone and there’s a chance that it will go away, right? I mean, that was kind of one of your concerns when I said, "Oh, I’m going to open a wholesale account with Fruition." And that is your first question, is like to know if they can keep up with demand because it is made in small batches, if all of the people that listen to this podcast leave me a five-star review on iTunes, not only am I not going to be very broke but also Fruition is going to ran out of chocolate it’s going to end up creating a huge problem for myself.
Torea: Chocolate Garage is great and I have to get Sunita a big round of credit because I really learned a lot about the chocolate industry from her. And she really like her whole purpose of her business is bringing transparency to the chocolate industry to mass consumers. Like the fact that there’s slavery still involved is we shouldn’t be in this day and age, right? So she’s definitely all about having transparency and really understanding the makers and how they do their whole process.
Christopher: Would I have missed anything?
Torea: I don’t think so. Except for the chocolate tasting itself?
Christopher: Chocolate tasting?
Christopher: It’s not really for audio, is it?
Torea: No. Not really unless you want to hear "mmm." Yeah, no, probably not, commendations --
Christopher: Oh, yeah. Okay. So this Fruition bar, 100% bar I think it’s fantastic. And like I said I’m selling it. I’ll be giving it away. What other bars do you like, Torea?
Torea: For 100% there are number of bars that I like. The Fruition bar is very good. Mutari just did a 100% bar. Mutari is a brand new craft maker on the scene. And getting bars right the first time they -- four bars is really, really difficult, they actually did a fairly decent job. They all have growth to do. Like all craft makers are continually in craft. Mutari has a good bar. I think you can get them online I’m not sure yet.
Christopher: I will link to this in the show notes obviously.
Torea: Okay great. And then there are couple makers that I really like. Francois Pralus is a French maker and he has a 100% bar. And what’s interesting about his bar is that not only does he use cocoa beans alone but he uses cocoa beans and then adds additional cocoa butter for that mouthfeel piece of it. And it's strictly for a mouthfeel. It’s not because he’s trying to reduce the percentage or anything like that. It’s just for mouthfeel.
There’s another maker that’s an Italian maker actually called Domori and they have a 100% bar that I really love. And then Granada is a really great maker. They are interesting in that I think they’re still the only chocolate maker that is 100% solar-powered for one and they were one of the first makers that are bean-to-bar in-country. Meaning they grow the beans and manufactured the bars in the same country of origin. So everything in Granada is done in Granada. There’s another one Marou Chocolate there in Vietnam. They’re also in-country, they don’t make 100% bar but they make a really good 80% bar. But Granada is also another one that I really love.
Christopher: Yeah, I really, really like the Granada 100% and we found it in local supermarkets, but my understanding is they’ve lost their US distributor. And that they’re working on that, so you might not be able to get it in the US right now but hopefully in the future.
Torea: Yeah, and remember that these companies are really small. Often times they’re like a handful of people. And Granada has been through a lot of really big ruts in the road lately and they lost their founder.
Christopher: Did he really electrocute himself?
Torea: There was an electrocution accident at the factory, yup. And they lost him to that accident.
Christopher: Really sad.
Torea: It was really, really sad. Huge blow to the chocolate industry and now with the US distributor that’s definitely giving them a bit of an issue, but they’ll work through it.
Christopher: They’ll be back, yeah. It will change. It won't always be this one company. It's constantly changing is my guess. And I hope that people support these companies because I think they’re doing good work.
Torea: I think so.
Christopher: I think that chocolate has been?
Torea: I might not enjoy a chocolate the way it was meant to be.
Christopher: I know it’s been hijacked. That’s really the purpose of this podcast. Like you don’t have to buy chocolate from me just know that chocolate has been freaking bought, and hijacked, and bastardized and really good chocolate does exist out there. You just need to put on a little bit more effort to find it.
Torea: It’s going to be really hard to find that in Whole Foods.
Christopher: It’s going to be hard to find that in there, right, yeah.
Torea: Yeah, there’s one maker in Whole Foods that I really love, Dick Taylor. They’re out of Arcata, California. Cocoa beans and sugar, they don’t have a 100% bar but they do have a couple of 80% bars that are very good. Dick Taylor, cross my fingers and knock on wood, like they’ve been able to build up their business enough to produce enough quantity to be able to be in Whole Foods without reducing the quality of their chocolate which is so hard to do. So hopefully they’ll find whatever magic mix that is of production to be able to do that so that we can see more and more of it because most of the stuff at Whole Foods is probably going to be cocoa mass or cocoa powder and it’s going to be pretty much rubbish.
Christopher: Not even some of these big Paleo retail stores that are popping up online.
Torea: I see that a lot. And then I look at the ingredients and --
Christopher: Yeah, and they are selling chocolate with Stevia [Phonetic] in it like sugar alcohols and stuff, like there’s no way that it’s going to be a good quality chocolate if it’s got some kind of sugar alcohol in it. And it’s masking the problem, right? You just need to let your palate adjust and then normal things of normal sweetness or taste normal sweetness right and you won’t need that goddamn sugar alcohol to make it taste palatable. So yeah, I would avoid those too.
Okay, well, I think that’s about it. So yeah, head over to iTunes. I’m going to leave a link to a video in the show notes because it’s a little bit tricky leaving a review in iTunes. They don’t make it particularly easy for you. But once you have these instructions it will be really easy. So leave me a five-start review in iTunes. Send me your shipping address and it’s got to be a US shipping address. I’m sorry if you're listening to this and you’re in Iceland or the UK then I can’t afford to send you chocolates to those places. So US only shipping addresses, send him to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a bar of Fruition 100% dark chocolate. That’s it. Thank you.
Torea: See you next time.
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