Albino Cacao & The Regeneration of Oaxaca’s Forest Gardens

ChocoSol has been working on ecological regeneration in Oaxaca's Chinantla region for over 10 years. In San Felipe de León, a Chinanteco pueblo of around 400 people located in the Chinantla region of Oaxaca is ChocoSol’s only partner for cacao blanco- better known to many as our award-winning Jaguar Pure and Jaguar Swirl chocolates!

The Chinantla region of southern Mexico is home to over 4,000 species of plants and is recognised worldwide as a biodiversity hotspot. Renewing and regenerating the biodiversity of the land is vital for a resilient ecosystem and habitat for the natural flora and fauna. A diverse forest ecosystem also diversifies and thereby strengthens the sources of subsistence and income for the community. Community members are planting albino cacao and cacao rojo trees alongside achiote, vanilla, coffee, and much more- creating a diverse forest garden that is resilient to disease, pests, changing weather, fluctuating prices, and unpredictable market dynamics- and that will feed and support the community of San Felipe de León for generations to come.

Community elder and our good friend Don Max says meeting ChocoSol marked a significant moment for the community because although cacao blanco has always been grown in San Felipe de León, it was never sold before ChocoSol started experimenting with Jaguar chocolate. Today, the community is planting more and more cacao blanco, with sales primarily to ChocoSol and to women making one of Oaxaca’s prehispanic beverages- tejate. Don Max thinks that in the future, more people in Oaxaca will know about the rich flavour and benefits of cacao blanco- and perhaps begin to experiment with it in the region’s famous array of chocolate and cacao drinks! Don Max also explains that cacao blanco has played an integral part in the renewal of the area’s biodiversity. Previously, many growers in the community planted only coffee trees, creating a semi-monoculture which left the ecosystem and the community vulnerable to bouts of coffee disease. Says Don Max, regenerating the diversity of the surrounding ecosystem through cacao blanco (alongside many other plants) means a more sustainable, stable, and resilient way of life for the community. To him, cacao blanco is a gift for his family, the forests, and the community.

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