Our veggie milks often use chocolate products to help make them more attractive to children with lactose intolerance. In our interest to provide detailed information to our Chufamix users, we´ve participated in a Venezuelan chocolate tasting to benefit the Healing Foundation.
The food journalist Helen Lopez (@ circulosdefuego ) spoke of the need to purchase chocolate brands that use the fair trade seal and ethical principles, because the labour exploitation that surrounds this sector is well-known. In this way, we protect the dignity of the collector and families whose lives depend on the cocoa trade.
There are three varieties of cocoa : criollo , trinitario and forastero . Criollo is grown in Chuao and in the rest of Venezuela ; the Forastero is from Africa and the Trinitario is a cross between the two.
From a nutritional standpoint , cocoa is a healthy food: it contains protein and more than 300 substances which benefit the body as antioxidants, stimulants and neurotransmitters . One should seek to avoid labels that overuse fattening starches which detract the texture and flavor characteristics from the cocoa. It´s important to avoid overused artificial flavorings like vanilla, instead of pure vanilla.
The show ended with the tasting of dark chocolate named best in the world in 2013 , known as Canoabo which is made from 70 % pure cocoa and manufactured in Venezuela .
Venezuela is the first country in the world to develop fine chocolates from criollo cocoa. Particularly noteworthy are the people of Chuao in the state of Aragua. The whole town, which has about 2000 inhabitants, smells like cocoa as it is the livelihood of 90% of the local families.
The workers are mostly women, because the men are usually fishermen. Women take care of cleaning the ” conucos ” (the cocoa fruit) in the forest. They harvest cocoa while singing ancient songs, and dry the cocoa at the door of the church. When the cocoa is dry they develop the “panela” (cocoa paste). Chuao´s women are also responsible for their own agricultural co-operative.
All is organic , but not certified. Chuao´s women do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides , cocoa bushes grow wildly and proudly, as chuaorian´s own popular culture.
We are privileged to have many years of friendship with Fernando Carrizales , a renowned Venezuelan photographer who lives in Chuau. Fernando and his friend, the artist Angel Rizo , have given us some documentation about this marvelous part of the world.
In this short video you will see how they dry cocoa , always using the shape of a full-moon at the door of the village church :
Here is an interview with Katti (a woman cocoa worker) talking about the daily work at a “conuko” (the forest from which the cocoa is harvest).
Here we have women singing in the festivities of the town, on the 14th of February.
A big hug to all friends and families of Chuao ; Nora , Txentxo , Tibisai , Erwin , John Speed and his sister, Mao , Felix , Orlando , Apple, Priska , Chawa , Juan José , Juana , Malibu … never lose what makes you unique, your cocoa, fish , devils , drums , culture , and even your donkey milk !