I read about Kallari single source USDA organic chocolate made by a cooperative of 850 indigenous Kichwa farmers in the Ecuadoran Amazon a few months ago in the New York Times and have been waiting rather impatiently for it to show up at Whole Foods. Yes, you read that right, the farmers actually make this chocolate rather than sell the cacao beans to a middleman to be made into chocolate. And they are “the only farmers’ cooperative in the world that harvests, markets and enjoys all profits from its own line of organic chocolate” according to The Kallari Story printed inside the box. We can all thank Stephen McDonnell, the founder and chief executive of the Applegate Farms organic food company, for establishing and funding the manufacturing facility.
Well I finally got my hands on a bar this week – just in time for Earth Day. This beautifully packaged “green” chocolate gives eco-conscious consumers so many compelling reasons to feel good about buying it: it’s USDA organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified and 100% of the proceeds go back to the farmers so they can lead a good life and preserve the Napo region, home to “some of the most species-rich forests in the world”, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
At 70% cacao I expected some harshness on the palate but got none. This is beautiful, elegant, flavorful chocolate devoid of any hard edges or bitter notes. This puzzled me at first, but now I understand why; it’s made from a rare cacao varietal called Cacao Nacional that flourishes in this area and once faced extinction. Clearly it’s something special. A chocolate lover’s dream?
According to Slow Food “In 2004, these rare beans were singled out for protection by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and the Nacional Cacao Presidium was established to improve the quality of the production. Later that year, the community presented their first chocolate bars at the international Terra Madre meeting, marking the beginning of a more profitable enterprise.” So we can thank Slow Food too!
I recommend trying to eat “just a smackerel”, as Winnie-the-Pooh would say. Do you have visions of a honey-stuffed bear’s bum bulging from Rabbit’s hole? (If not you better get a copy of “The House at Pooh Corner” and read it to your youngest child).