Pride of the Artisan

Pride of the Artisan….made possible by the best cacao PROUD…ucers.

ChocoSol is a learning community social enterprise that engages in horizontal trade with cacao producers in Southern Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Horizontal trade is direct relationship based exchange rooted in reciprocity, friendship, sharing and improving the production chain. Sustainability, ecology, health, cleanliness and even “regeneration” are key concepts to our approach.

To celebrate two years running as Best Chocolate in Toronto by NOW Magazine readers, we are sharing three stories from our proud-ucers to recognize their continued support.

Don Florentino Gomez Lopez is a Tojolobal elder in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico who is a key animator in our horizontal supply chain.

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Don Flor ensures quality is controlled, that producers get the best price in the region and that the cacao is safely and cleanly stored. Don Flor once told us that when the prices for cacao and coffee were low he still looked after his plants, and one day when he was injured and the price was restored it was his cacao and coffee plants that helped pay for his treatments. Working with Don Flor and his family is an intergenerational project rooted in humour, in friendship, in family and in solidarity.  It is not reducible to economics. Lacandon cacao is nutty, earthy, winey, and full bodied. Moreover, these forest gardens help to preserve and protect the most important rainforest in Mexico.

Don Maximino is a Chinantec elder and former traditional leader of his community in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico.  Don Max facilitates our engagement with regenerating the Jaguar Cacao in Chinantec forest gardens. Known as Theobromae bicoloris, Jaguar Cacao once was a key component of forest gardens from the Amazon to Mexico. In 7 years we have gone from sourcing 7 kilos in the village to almost 500 kilos. We have seen the price villagers receive rise from $3 to $25, and we supported the planting of more than 2000 seedlings in Indigenous forest gardens. The Jaguar Cacao project is not a commercial enterprise; quantities are extremely limited. Jaguar chocolate is an expression of regenerating the forest garden traditions of Oaxaca in partnership with Indigenous communities. Working with this Chinantec community reminds us that solidarity is more than just buying fairly priced products, it is about cultivating our own backyard here in Toronto like a forest garden. The Jaguar bar that is only available at ChocoSol is made with forest garden ingredients and it is one of our greatest symbolic accomplishments.

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In 2014 ChocoSol was the first chocolate making company in the world to buy carbon credit cacao from the Dominican Republic (DR).
Moreover,  we established a horizontal solidarity trading relationship with the Zorzal private reserve that is a unique forest garden growing cacao that provides habitat for migratory birds from Quebec, New Brunswick, Vermont, and New York. 6391_Bicknells_Thrush_06-17-2012_1Carbon credits don’t taste good, but wrapping carbon credit producing forest gardens projects in chocolate is a way to put a delicious, nutritious and revolutionary body to a concept of regenerative agriculture. To celebrate this migration and ecology we have developed the 1Bird, 2Trees, 1Continent bar that combines maple and cacao from forest garden habitats in the DR and Quebec. A hint of sea-salt represents the ocean the Bicknell Thrush traverses. This bar is a trans-local expression of hope, beauty, and ecology.

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