Tapete Auction & Fundraiser

Have you seen the beautiful tapetes hanging in our space at 1131 St. Clair West? We are auctioning off several unique pieces as a fundraiser for a beloved member of the ChocoSol family in Oaxaca, Mexico: Angela Mendoza Martinez. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind holiday gift for yourself or your loved ones, and a gift embedded with meaning, solidarity, and the generosity of holiday spirit, check out the auction site by clicking here!

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The Mendoza family are recognised master weavers who use traditional methods to make their unique artworks. They are close friends of ChocoSol and dear members of our direct-trading network in Mexico. Michael Sacco, the founder of ChocoSol, became close friends with Luis Mendoza while living in Oaxaca. Luis’ mother, Angela Mendoza Martinez, has been spinning and dying wool all her life- and creates rugs (tapetes), bracelets, shawls, and more. ChocoSol is lucky to have a number of commissioned pieces woven by both Angela and Luis in our space in Toronto.
Unfortunately, this past May, Angela Mendoza experienced kidney failure. She was forced to travel via private taxi to Oaxaca City three times a week in order to receive treatment. Since then, she has been on dialysis treatment. Due to the high cost of getting a doctor from the city, the family has renovated a room in their house to create a sterile home environment for Angela to receive home-treatment.
Before falling ill, Angela was a vendor at the local Organic Pochote Market in Oaxaca City, Mexico. She has been unable to sell her wares at the market, and has been unable to weave any new pieces since her operation. Her two children have also both been away from work since May in order to support and care for Angela. In June, ChocoSol helped to fund a fundraiser event was organised by Chris Christou, a member of ChocoSol based in Oaxaca, and held at the Pochote Market. Community members, vendors, and customers alike came together to raise money for the family.
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However, the Mendoza family is still in need of financial support. In solidarity with the family, we are auctioning five tapetes hand-woven by Angela for ChocoSol. The wool is hand-made and dyed by the family, using all natural dyes made using traditional methods. These pieces are valued each between $400 to $600 (depending on the size and design), and are priceless in their originality and meaning.
Below, please enter your bid for any or all of the tapetes. The auction will close on Friday, December 22nd at noon. Please remember to check back regularly to see if you have been outbid! You can enter the auction as many times as you wish. Participants will also be emailed a few days before the closing date with the new bid minimums. The winner for each item will be announced at our Winter Solstice event on Friday, December 22nd (and will be notified by email). The tapetes will be available for pick-up at 1131 St. Clair West. Delivery options within Canada can also be discussed.

Enter the auction here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SJJMPYS

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Maple Tree Forests Branching out with a Cacao Forest Garden

Article by Christine Laliberté, 19 October 2017

Christine1ChocoSol Traders is a tree-to-bar chocolate maker social enterprise based in Toronto (https://chocosoltraders.com/). ChocoSol buys fermented cacao beans directly from cacao producers in Mexico, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic (DR). At the shop, the ChocoSolista team crafts different lines of chocolate bars using stone ground, whole food artisanal methods. One of the “Fino Line” flavours featured is called Bird Sanctuary. This appellation salutes the Hispaniola region of northen Dominican Republic which is where the Zorzal – Agroforestry System is located, a first of it’s kind for this country (http://zorzalcacao.com/). This region is the the winter habitat of the Bicknell Thrush. 

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Look up in the Spring and depending upon what part of north eastern North America you are in you may observe a flock of Bicknell Thrushes moving along the Atlantic ocean during their migration. In the summer this small bird migrates to the vast Laurentia forest within southeastern Quebec and Vermont.(http://www.audubon.org/). Like the Bicknell Thrush, I was also born in a maple forest region.  I feel that we are sharing a similar ritual; we are both “secretive forest singer[s].”

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Made with 85% cacao from the Zorzal Reserve, this is my favorite mini bar made at ChocoSol. Bird Sanctuary reveals a distinct level of chocolate, expresses a balance of acidity and suggests a subtle nutty & fruity flavor. The added sea salt represents the Atlantic Ocean, the area covered by these birds during their seasonal migration.  Also, the maple sugar crumble used to sweeten the bar on the back is a call out to the forest gardens of the North that provide food and habitat for these endangered birds. 

Let me invite you to read the story of how I met a network and chain of artisans, technicians, ecologists and farmers who have devoted their lives to create a sustainable cacao product chain. Specifically, my article will focus on these four contributors:

MICHAEL SACCO – ChocoSol Founder, Toronto, CA
Dr. CHARLES KERCHNER- Zorzal Reserve Co-Founder & Artisanal Cacao Farm Operations Chief, DR GREG D’ALESANDRE – Chocolate Sourcer & Co-Owner at Dandelion Chocolate, CA, USA
CYNTHIA JONASSON – Chocolatier & Master Chocolate Maker Teacher at Dandelion Chocolate, CA, USA

Christine5While interning at ChocoSol Traders a member of the ChocoSolista Team, Rebecca Jacobs, once told me an idyllic story about the existence of a bird sanctuary. She described that there are two countries involved in this migratory route with an ocean separating its distinct winter and summer habitats. The story which inspired the name for “Bird Sanctuary” chocolate bar has the charm of a fairy tale but the narrative has peaked my curiosity about ethical chocolate sourcing.  Moreover, I was interested in getting a better understanding of ChocoSol’s horizontal trading business relationships with their producers.  Horizontal trade is an invitation ”to participate in an intercultural dialogue and movement to create a socially-just, equitable, & ecological food system” (https://chocosoltraders.com/).  As a result of the generous help of Michael Sacco (TEDxWaterloo – Michael Sacco – 2/25/10) I was able to connect with Dr. Charles Kerchner (http://zorzalcacao.com/), a ZorzalCacao producer and was able to visit a small forest garden cacao reserve in the DR. The purpose of my trip was to also explore my enthusiasm for sustainable agro-ecology and to see with my own eyes how cacao is grown and how such an innovative agroforestry project could benefit the community and help preserve the ecosystem. ChocoSol was the first international buyer to purchase the carbon credit Zorzal beans in 2014, (http://www.cepf.net/news/top_stories/).

This agroforestory project is sucessful because of Dr. Charles Kerchner’s leadership. The Chief Troublemaker (as he’s described on the Zorzal website!) has demonstrated his environmental stewardship of the Reserva Zorzal for more than a decade with collaborative conservation efforts from different political levels and private sector. Additionally, Charles is kind-hearted and generous towards his dedicated staff, hardworking-farmers & their families. Besides being a good business man, Charles is an excellent host from which he has kindly invited me to join the Dandelion Chocolate Group (https://www.dandelionchocolate.com/), who happened to be in the country for one of their chocolate trips.  My impromptu addition to these travellers gave me an invaluable opportunity to meet one the best single source bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the world.

I also had the privilege to participate in a hands-on workshop focussing on cacao bean and chocolate tasting with the amazing Dandelion Chocolate team. The session was taught by Greg D’Alesandre (What A Chocolate ‘Sourcerer’ Learned From Working At Google by Forbes ) where he introduced the importance of having a good qualitative method to “consistently and accurately communicate about flavor” (Getting-good-grades-for-cacao, July 14, 2017 by Greg). Greg presented a standard protocol that was created by the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI). The workshop was very educative and Greg’s expertise and insights of global cacao cultivation and industries are tremendous. Greg answered questions about fruit harvesting, evaluation of fermentation installations and discussing chocolate marketing with contagious enthusiasm. He belives that trust is a “crucial component” for an equitable economic system where the essential aspect of fair and ecological trade is based on sustainable relationships (Greg D’Alesandre from Dandelion Chocolate speaking at the Collaborative Trade Accelerator Culmination Event https://vimeo.com/173170530); this is a shared-value that is championed by Micheal Sacco and his ChocoSolistas in Toronto.

Cynthia Jonasson is a Canadian Master Chocolatier and a teacher at Dandelion Chocolate. She still thrives on learning about chocolate including the history of cacao and its application across civilizations, investigating the several origins of Theobroma pods, evaluating the different fermentation processes and assessing diverse types of installation and  testing recipes in her shop. Moreover, she is an excellent educator. She has been a resourceful person for all of the technical aspects regarding chocolate making . I am very grateful to Cynthia to share all her “tips & tricks”. I invited you to read her articles posted on the “Education Station” from the Dandelion Chocolate website (Dandelion Education Station with Cynthia).

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Christine7Based on my observations during my stay in the jungle,  the members of the Zorzal team have adopted sustainable practices involved in cacao cultivation (e.g., agricultural practices work with natural processess to preserve the resources; design and manage organic farming operations ). Furthermore, I feel that the jungle garden sustains the economic viability and enhances the quality of life for DR farmers.Cacao Zorzal, Dandelion Chocolate, and ChocoSol are partners that are successful social enterprises. They are playing a role in addressing climate change, in supporting local communities, and in protecting endangered wildlife with collaborative conservation efforts. Moreover, as reported, “the chocolate makers who buy Zorzal cacao are willing to pay an additional value for each pound of cacao to invest in Plan Vivo reforestation efforts.” In summary, Zorzal philosophy is that: 

We believe that good business practices can help foster positive social, environmental, and economic change, and we are committed to increasing transparency in both our own process as well as across the supply chain.  

My trip reiterates my belief of supporting the fair trade market when you are sourcing and producing a commodity. I have a better understanding of the full implications involved when paying a premium for “Fair Trade” produce.  Although it can have a higher cost to support the sustainability, as a cutomer I am ready to take a few extra dollars from my thin wallet to cover these operations related to this artisanal method. The chocolate industry requires a colossal demand for physical labor throughout the entire process of seeding, harvesting and crafting chocolate. For the respect of the Theobroma cacao plant and it’s workers, biting into a piece of chocolate has forever changed outlook on the chocolate industry. Next time you eat a delicious bitter square of dark chocolate, perhaps you could try savouring it a little longer… being mindful of experiencing the “Food of the Gods” and its sweet contributions from numerous human beings.

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Amaranth in the news

Check out the newest feature on our amaranth growers in Oaxaca, Mexico. NPR published an incredible article on one of our partners: Puente a la Salud Comunitaria. Puente is a nonprofit committed to seeking a solution to the high rate of prenatal and childhood malnutrition in rural Oaxaca through the promotion of amaranth production and cuisine. We are proud to be Puente’s first partner outside of Mexico. Amaranth is an native seed and food, nutritionally-dense in protein and other nutrients, part of the Oaxacan forest garden and drought-resistant, and financially profitable for growers and their communities.

We feature amaranth in our Cacao Power Cookies and in the masa (dough) for our tamales. We are also working on a complete-protein tortilla made with amaranth, chia seeds and maize.

If you’re interested in purchasing amaranth flour and/or seed, or pre-purchasing popped amaranth- contact us at orders@chocosoltraders.com. Each bag is labelled with the name of the community in which the amaranth was grown.

Full article available here: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/05/01/526033083/why-mexican-chefs-farmers-and-activists-are-reviving-the-ancient-grain-amaranth

Nutritional Information for Rustico Line

ChocoSol’s Rustico line of flavours consists of:

  • Luscious Coconut (70%)
  • Coffee Crunch (65%)
  • Darkness (75%)
  • 5 Chili Bullet (75%)
  • Gratitude (100%)
  • Sinfully Raw Vanilla (82%)
  • Vanilla Sea Salt (65%)

Click on the individual flavours below for a detailed view of nutrition facts.

JOB POSTING: Market Warrior

WE ARE HIRING!

JOB POSTING: MARKET WARRIOR (PDF VERSION)

We are seeking an enthusiastic and experienced individual to join the ChocoSol team as a Market Warrior at various farmers markets and special events.

Who We Are

ChocoSol is a Learning Community Social Enterprise that focuses on making the ‘food of the gods’ – commonly known as cacao – into fresh, whole food, stone ground chocolate on an artisanal scale.

Our artisanal chocolate is a symbol that embodies our values of socially just, ecological chocolate made, not only with a ‘cradle to cradle’ approach, but also charged with the use of bicycle-powered product deliveries and pedal-powered machines such as bicycle blenders at farmers’ markets and special events.

In addition to producing sustainable artisanal chocolate, ChocoSol also organizes and hosts chocolate and tortilla events all over the city. We offer educational workshops and catering.  And we work collaboratively with many food and environmental organizations to advance and support local food systems and development of products made in Ontario.

Tasks and Responsibilities:

  • Sales
    • Promote retail sales using effective sales strategies.
    • Accurate cash, credit and debit card handling (includes cashing in and out).
  • Hospitality
    • Provide hospitality to customers.
    • Communicate your knowledge to customers about ChocoSol products and production methods, the business model, upcoming events, wholesale opportunities, etc.
    • Make customers feel valued, listened to, and welcomed into our community.
  • Barista
    • Brew and serve coffee to promote ChocoSol’s low-emission coffee beans.
    • Make extraordinary xocolatl (Mexican chocolate drinks) and Mayan mochas (chocolate & coffee blend).
  • Administrative/Organizational Duties
    • Regularly check work e-mails. Respond & follow-up in a timely manner.
    • Actively engage with Google Drive (Google Sheets, Google Docs, etc.) to effectively communicate with Lead Animators regarding scheduling, sick/vacation time, submitting hours worked, etc.
  • Hygiene and General Cleaning
    • Maintain personal hygiene and uphold food handling safety standards.
    • Ensure that all workspace, kitchen and market equipment are routinely washed and sanitized after each shift.

Qualifications:

  • Sales experience
  • Urban cycling skills:
    • Knowledge of (or willingness to learn how to use) pedal-assist bike systems
    • Comfort in riding with a fully loaded trailer attached behind a bike
  • Effective organization skills and attention to detail
  • Strong communication skills
  • Enthusiasm for what we do
  • Helpfulness and open heart to assist and be ready
  • Common sense to take appropriate initiatives and ask for help or enter into co-motion
  • Co-motion and contagion, that is to say the ongoing process of learning and living and flourishing
  • Conviviality fun and social composting
  • Hospitality of serving a greater purpose and hosting it in our lives and in our work
  • Additional assets:
    • G2 or G level driver’s licence
    • Familiarity with driving manual transmission car
    • City of Toronto Food Handling Certification
    • Fluency in Spanish

Work hours: Part-time seasonal (April to October) with possibility of extension.

Compensation: $13.85/hour

Anticipated start date: April 1, 2017

How to apply: 
Send cover letter & resume in PDF format to hiring@chocosoltraders.com by March 18, 2017. Thank-you for your interest, however only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted. We receive many applications and cannot respond to all in-person, telephone, and e-mail follow-ups.

Chocosol Traders is an equal opportunity employer and considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, disability, or any other protected factor. Chocosol is committed to working with and providing accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you need special assistance or an accommodation while seeking employment, please e-mail Byron@chocosoltraders.com. We will make a determination on your request for accommodation on a case-by-case basis.

March Music & Open Mic Night!

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Join us on Sunday, March 5th for another evening of musical sharing and collaboration! Come and share your talents and support our creative Choco-community. Music, song, poetry, reading, and any other forms of expression are welcome and encouraged.

Tickets are $5 or PWYC, and can be purchased at: https://www.universe.com/marchmusicnight

Chocolate bites and drinks will be provided to keep the energy and creativity going all night.

Doors open and sign up begins at 7:00. Music starts at 8:00.

 

Xocolatl: Mexican drinking chocolate

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Did you know “chocolate” comes from the Nahuatl word “xocolatl”, which roughly translate as “bitter water”? In fact, across South America, cacao was traditionally consumed as a drink, not a food. Our Mexican-style drinking chocolate are based in that tradition, and make a rich, frothy, not-too-sweet cup of chocolate! Now you can try all of our flavours in our Drinking Chocolate Chest. You’ll receive 4 packages of each standard flavour (the classic Xocolatl, Vanilla Choco-Latte, Oaxacan Cinnamon, and spicy Aztec Blood) plus 1 package of specialty Tejate.

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Photo: A local woman preparing to serve tejate at the annual Tejate Festival in the village of St Andres Huayapam in Oaxaca.

Tejate blends cacao and maize with roasted mamey seeds and rosita de cacao into a thick, rich, and energizing drink. Tejate has pre-Hispanic origins, and is still used today in ritual contexts and important festivals including the Day of the Dead or Todos Santos. In Oaxaca, you’ll often see tejate being hand-mixed and served by Zapotec women in markets across the region.

Each drinking chocolate package contains 180g (8 servings). They normally retail for $10 each, but this Drinking Chocolate Chest retails for only $40 (no tax)*.

You can use our drinking chocolate for making hot or iced drinking chocolates, mochas, or try using them for Chocolate Chia Pudding! Simply blend or add 1/2 cup of chia seeds into 2 cups of drinking chocolate, and let chill overnight (or for a few hours). We like to add cacao nibs, dried fruits, seeds, and top with seasonal fresh fruit.

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Pre-payment via Interac e-transfer is required. To place an order, contact orders@chocosoltraders.com and provide your full Canadian mailing address. This is a limited time offer while supplies last.

*Additional shipping charges will apply (rates vary depending on location).

Notes from Southern Mexico

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In January, Michael Sacco (ChocoSol Founder) and Chrystal Porter (ChocoSol Head Chef) travelled to Southern Mexico as part of our commitment to horizontal trade and to our learning community. Here are some highlights from their time spent in Mexico.

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Photo above: Michael Sacco (left) and one of our cacao producers Don Flor (right) in the Lacondon Jungle

Horizontal trade means reciprocity-based relationships based on direct trade. It is about embodying best practices at home and abroad, and striving to do our best with the resources and the vision that we have, not for someone else but by example, and in partnership with them.

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Photo above: Friend & tejatera Gloria Cruz Sanchez (left) taught Chrystal (right) how to grind cacao using a traditional metate y mano. This important cooking tool is used for making chocolate and salsas, and also for grinding corn.

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Photo above: Jaguar cacao pods and Jaguar cacao beans

Phase 2 of forest garden regeneration in Oaxaca’s forest gardens will include this ancient native variety of white cacao that we re-discovered and are building a regeneration project around at this very moment. Phase 1 of regenerating the jaguar cacao was so successful as to over supply our demand and so now we must work on the polyculture diversification of the forest gardens with this amazing Chinantec community. The jaguar cacao is used to make ChocoSol’s unique & rare ‘white’ chocolate (a.k.a., Jaguar Chocolate).

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Photo above: Cooking nixtamalized corn/maize that will eventually be ground into fresh masa (corn dough) for making tortillas.

The nixtamalization process of maize is a technique of soaking and cooking corn kernels in an alkaline solution. It was designed by the ancients to make maize more nutritious and 70% more digestible. Without it, your maize masa will not be right!

Valentine’s Day Love Bars are back!

Celebrate love & friendship this Valentine season with the return of our Love Bars. There’s a little something for everyone! These beautifully branded bars are available at our retail location for a limited time only.

ChocoSol’s artisanal, ecological, and horizontally-traded chocolates make for a great gift. Our chocolate food is a delicious, healthy, and ethical alternative to industrialized chocolate candy.

Don’t live in Toronto? Can’t visit our 1131 St Clair West retail location? For this Valentine season, we are offering Canada-wide delivery on a special Valentine’s Day gift box!

Valentine’s Chest

  • Variety pack of 6 half bars (65-70g each) with special Love Bar labels (see photos below).
  • Contains 1 half bar of: Luscious Coconut, Darkness, Five Chili Bullet, Sinfully Raw Vanilla, our best-selling Vanilla Sea Salt, and the very special Mon Cherry d’Amour.
  • Share the love this Valentine’s Day with ChocoSol’s artisanal, ecological, and horizontally-traded chocolates ❤
  • Our chocolates are also free of: nuts, dairy, soy, gluten, preservatives.

Price: $30 +HST (or other applicable taxes)
(Additional shipping charges will apply (rates vary depending on location).

Pre-payment via Interac e-transfer is required. To place an order, contact orders@chocosoltraders.com and provide your full Canadian mailing address.

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