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I'm looking for other sources for couverture grade Fair Trade Organic chocolate. I currently purchase wafers from Puratos and Ciranda (both from Peru). I'd consider blocks or wafers/pastilles/chips and would also be interested in organic chocolate that is not Fair Trade certified, if it is made into chocolate by the folks who grow it (no Fair Trade partners). Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Hi Dale,  You might try Madagas. Good luck John R.

John - Do you mean Madecasse? From Madagascar?

John and Clay--Thanks, I am familiar with Madecasse. They only fairly recently began experimenting making wafers for couverture. Last I checked, it was fairly expensive (even for Fair Trade/Organic).

Simone,

The company that I have found that caries the broadest range of Fair Trade/Organic chocolate is Sweet Earth Chocolates in San Luis Obispo, California. Their prices are a good bit higher than the Blommers price. They have 54% and 65% dark, 32% milk and white chocolate for $8.95 a pound retail, $6.75 a pound wholesale (requires establishing an account), with a 10% discount on orders exceeding 100 pounds. Shipping is on top of these prices. The dark does not contain lecithin, the white and milk do. They purchase their chocolate from Puratos, who also requires a minimum order of 2,000 pounds (which is why I've not yet ordered directly). Ciranda carries the Cocoa Camino in 56% and 70% dark (currently $4.95 and $5.15 respectively for a recent order of seven hundred pounds). Their prices seem to fluctuate with the market a bit more, and might be lower were one to order the magic 2,000 pound quantity. You will have to get approval from TransFair to order Fair Trade certified stuff from Ciranda (they'd sell simple organic labeled stuff without this, and at a cheaper price). In my last discussion with Madecasse, it seems that they were thinking of asking around $8.00 per pound for their wafers. They had 55, 60, and 73%.

Here's the argument about the value of using organic chocolate as I understand it: Organically certified chocolate may in some cases mean it has not been sprayed with pesticides or fungicides, but more often means that it is not plantation grown, where the forest is clear cut, and the trees are mono-cropped with the associated use of petrochemical fertilizers. Because the trees are grown in close proximity, there is more likelihood that blights, fungal infections, pests, etc. can spread from tree to tree, and so the use of other chemical control agents becomes more likely. These petrochemicals (fertilizers and the rest) run off and pollute the watersheds in their vicinity. Most organically certified cacao is grown in smaller plantings spread out under the canopy of the rain forest, and requires no fertilizers beyond the natural composting of the forest vegetation.

I think that's enough for now. I hope some of that was useful. Let me know if you find other good sources or information in your explorations.

All the best,

Dale

Organic cacao farms, in Costa Rica at least, tend to be agroforestry, meaning that while the cacao is technically monocropped, the trees providing the shade are habitually harvested. They may also be trees used for fodder. In the Caribbean area much of the cacao is produced in small farms - also called plantations - and then the crop is gathered by co-operatives for selling / processing. It's a slightly complicated answer. Rainforest Alliance farms are not necessarily organic - they can and do use conventional pesticides and fertilizers, but they do need to meet standards for 'sustainability', they have to treat their workers fairly and offer training / education / benefits.

And really to talk about 'organics' in developing countries is a bit hit or miss, as many small farms receive a blanket or group 'organic certification' when they join a co-op, without any certified certifier visiting the farm. Our farm, which follows permaculture principles and is certainly organic, received certification without anyone coming to check. We returned the certification when we left the co-op. So really if you want to ensure you are getting what you think you are getting follow the cacao as far as you can go. There must be single source importers working in the States?

Ancel,

Thanks for your insights.

I'd be happy to hear from any single source importers out there (or permaculture grown cacao producers).

All the best,

Dale

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