Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crunchy chocolate - organic and ethical

Seeds of Change ChocolateI do love me some chocolate. My husband is quite the chocolate connoisseur and you'll find a few books on the history of chocolate and chocolate making on our bookshelves. Add to that our propensity for making our own truffles and chocolate pastries and, well, let's say that we know our way around the Cluizels, Guittards and Valrhonas of the world. Add to that the chocolate making classes and you wouldn't be too far off from calling us chocolate snobs. And, I'm okay with that.

Unfortunately, there's a huge derth when it comes to high quality, good tasting organic, fair trade chocolate. It's an unbelievable injustice, I say. Basically, I stick with Green & Black's or Theo Chocolate if I want to go organic, but they still lack the same sort of mouth feel that the high-end chocolates invoke. I like both of them well enough, but I still would like a whole lot more selection with organic chocolates.

So, when Seeds of Change contacted me to review their new product, Seeds of Change Chocolate, I was more than delighted. Gleeful, even. The chocolate is certified organic and ethically produced. They also donate 1% of net sales to promote sustainable organic farming initiatives worldwide.

They sent me quite the variety of their chocolate bars and I've been (slowly) sampling through them. I'm not a huge fan of milk chocolate so my son, chocolatier in training, has been helping me out on those. This is the same child who informed us that his Valentine chocolates from a friend at school didn't have chocolate filling, but ganache. Brought a tear to my eye. Sniff.

Anyway, I generally like my chocolate straight up without any doo-dads in them, but Seeds of Change Chocolate has a number of flavors with extras in them if you go for that sort of thing. The Dark Chocolate with Coconut was a little too Mounds Bar-esque for me, but I liked the Dark Chocolate with Mango & Cashew as well as the Dark Chocolate with Cherries & Vanilla. The Milk Chocolate was exceptionally good (for a milk). All the dark chocolate varieties have a great mouth feel, good flavor and no bitter aftertaste. My only complaint is that the percentage of cacao is only 61% - I tend towards the 70% and higher.

Of course, all this has been tempered (get it? tempered - I so entertain myself!) by the fact that we've been eating chocolates my brother just brought back from a month in Paris. La Maison du Chocolat is the best freaking chocolate on the planet, in my opinion. Oh, how the couverture crackles over the ganache! Ooh la la, indeed.

But, I digress. If you want to go organic, sustainable and ethical, Seeds of Change Chocolates should definitely be on the top of your list along with Theo and Green & Black's. Getting hungry?

33 comments:

Kim said...

Can't anyone find a substitute for soy lecithin? I'm allergic to soy. It is frustrating that lecithin is in everything! It is heartbreaking that it is in most chocolates, certainly in all of the good ones. Sorry for the complaining. I was all excited to see this (we love Seeds of Change products) but then disappointed to see the soy in the ingredients list.

Thanks for the info though! I will definitely tell my mom about this as she is always looking for more options for her organic chocolate habit.

Anonymous said...

Newman's Own Organic makes some awesome chocolate too. And they have an amazing holistic business model where they give a lot of their money away to charity...

Imagine if all 'Capitalists' did business this way. The world would change overnight...

http://www.newmansownorganics.com/

Greenpa said...

Crunchy, you've always had a sadistic streak- I'm sure you've got stiletto heeled boots and a whip or two in your closet- but this is really really cruel!!

:-)

Stone Fence Farm said...

Check out Snake and Butterfly Chocolate! http://www.snakeandbutterfly.com/

scifichick said...

Oh, this is just so not fair! Now I want some chocolate, and right now! Instead I'm stuck at work, with no chocolate in sight :( Fine, I'll just keep sipping on my organic, fair-trade Dagoba cocoa made by me with organic fair-traded sugar and local milk from grass-fed cows. Huh!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness - how do you get on a list for reviewing chocolate?????
If only . . .

Willow said...

I gave up non-fair-trade chocolate a while ago. I tend to use a lot of chocolate chips and chocolate bars from Sunspire, chocolate bars from Endangered Species chocolate (not all of their stuff is organic, but they do have an organic line, and they support wildlife conservation), cocoa powder from Green and Black's, and sandwich cookies and peanut butter cups from Newman's Own Organics, as someone else already pointed out. And ice cream from Ben & Jerry's. None of this is particularly high end "good" chocolate, but it tastes good and it's certainly better than Hershey's, Ghiradelli, etc., and it's fair trade and not too hard to find in stores if anyone's looking.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Kim - I think soy lecithin is unavoidable, it seems.

Newman's Own is okay, but I wasn't too impressed by it. If I recall, the chocolate seemed rather waxy.

I forgot about Endangered Species - I haven't eaten their stuff in a while since I found better chocolate.

Greenpa - I guess you'll never know, will you?

Stone Fence Farm - Can I give you a big, chocolately kiss? I've been looking for an organic raw chocolate bar!

Scifichick - Good thing I brought a minibar to work with me! Damn this dark chocolate is creamy!

sealander said...

Oh dear, I may have to start licking the computer screen ;)
Your son reminds me of the 10 yr old niece of a friend - requested chocolate for an upcoming birthday, but "It must be at least 70% cocoa solids". Ah, start 'em young....

Niecey said...

Shoot, now I have a heck of a craving.

Robj98168 said...

Got something against mounds bars? Chocolate covered coconut is my favorite!LOL I love Boehms Chocolate- their sugar free choices are out of this world!

knutty knitter said...

Unfair - its nowhere near morning tea even!!

viv in nz

Robj98168 said...

Speaking of Boehms, They have a store in Burien
Boehms Chocolates Burien
148 S.W. 148th St., Suite B120, Seattle, WA 98166
Phone (206) 243-2027 • FAX (206) 243-3091

Lisa Sharp said...

Thanks now I want chocolate. ;)

Kelsie said...

Isn't Seeds of Change owned by Mars?

I'm not saying that's bad or good, I'm just wondering. I'm pretty sure Milky Ways and "Mars Bars" of that ilk aren't fairly traded, organic, or made using sustainable practices. :/

My absolute favorite organic chocolate in the world is Dagoba. Their lavender/chocolate bars are magic.

hoorayparade said...

http://www.rawchocshop.com/index.asp

i wish they were based in the US.

Mary said...

I love Taza Organic Chocolate. It is stone ground so it has an interesting mouth feel.
Kim if you look at their mexicano chocolate discs you will se there is no soy lecithin in it. I love the almond one and it has only cocoa nubs, sugar, salt, and ground almonds. I tried it all at our local chocolate festival and have since ordered some online I loved it so much.

Billie said...

And here I am on a mission to go one month of healthy eating and exercise. Chocolate is not even a possibility this month... and here I am reading about it...

*pant* *pant*

Although admittedly, I eat regular chocolate of the not too fancy variety.

Carrick said...

Isn't Green & Black's owned by something like Hershey? Blech. :P

At my local co-op, they have a wide variety of scrumptious gourmet organic and fair-trade chocolate. Don't remember their names, though, since I've only just started trying them. I think they carry the Endangered Species one, though.

Carrick said...

@scifichick: lol! I drink the same thing at work!! Only I don't drink organic milk because I get the kind in returnable glass bottles, which doesn't come in organic.... Maybe I should switch off. Organic in a plastic-coated carton one day, non-organic in glass another...

Carrick said...

Oh yeah, and I think Dagoba is owned by some ridiculous corporation like Hersheys, too. Ugh! That's why I only buy things I've never heard of these days. :P

I know, it doesn't make it any less fair trade or organic; it's just the commie in me trying to support the little guys.

Kelsie said...

Oh no!! Not Dagoba!! :( :( :(

*rushes off to Google*

Carrick said...

From Wikipedia (but I also saw it mentioned in some article): "In October 2006, Dagoba was acquired by The Hershey Company."

I know, sad. :(

Kim said...

Thank you for giving me the push to do the research. And, thank you to all who gave information about soy-free chocolates. Here is the results of my research: http://kgische.livejournal.com/51962.html

Laura said...

Kim, from Theo's website: "Theo Origin Bars are vegan and soy-free." ;)

Anonymous said...

Isn't Seeds of Change owned by Mars?

I'm not saying that's bad or good, I'm just wondering. I'm pretty sure Milky Ways and "Mars Bars" of that ilk aren't fairly traded, organic, or made using sustainable practices. :/

Thanks Kelsie! Yes, I would like to know more about S.O.C. parent company and stock holder perspectives on 'Green' initiatives before letting my taste buds consider this chocolate...

Kelsie said...

Well shoot....Dagoba IS owned by Hershey. Is no chocolate ethically safe?

Laura said...

I was debating posting this comment but so many people seem to be chewing on the ownership debate...

I love chocolate too. :) But the ownership debate lights a short fuse on me so here I go...

When a well known company owns another company and doesn't fess up to it, it really pisses me off. It makes me feel like something shady is going on. I feel lied to. Usually there is something shady going on and I have been lied to.

And when a greener company sells out to a gigantocorp, I feel sad. Sad because that greener company wasn't viable on it's own and needed an infusion of big money to be a "successful" business. It also make me sad when they say nothing to the people who purchase their products thinking they are buying from one company when really they are buying from a company that they probably wouldn't accept product from if it were given to them for free.

I searched Seeds of Change's website and didn't find any word about Mar's being their parent company.

Theo's website doesn't have any info on it's ownership. I called and they said they are just 3 years old, and no they are not owned by a larger company.

I looked up the trademark ownership of Theo Chocolate and Seeds of Change as best I could using this (crappy) website: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=searchss&state=4005:3corui.1.1

I found the following:

Word Mark 3400 PHINNEY
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: Chocolate, chocolate bars, chocolate candy. FIRST USE: 20060301. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20060301
Filing Date March 29, 2005
Supplemental Register Date October 5, 2006
Registration Date January 2, 2007
Owner (REGISTRANT) The Chocolate Company LTD LIAB CO WASHINGTON 3400 Phinney Ave. N. Seattle WASHINGTON 98103

Word Mark SEEDS OF CHANGE
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: Confectionery, namely candy.
Filing Date June 9, 2006
Published for Opposition March 13, 2007
Registration Date February 12, 2008
Owner (REGISTRANT) Sustainable Agrico, L.L.C. LTD LIAB CO DELAWARE 3209 Richards Lane Santa Fe NEW MEXICO 87505

(LAST LISTED OWNER) MARS, INCORPORATED CORPORATION DELAWARE 6885 ELM STREET MCLEAN VIRGINIA 221013883

Word Mark SEEDS OF CHANGE
Goods and Services IC 029. US 046. G & S: snack mix
Filing Date April 20, 2009
Owner (APPLICANT) Mars, Incorporated CORPORATION DELAWARE 6885 Elm Street McLean VIRGINIA 22101

Word Mark SEEDSOFCHANGE
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: Rice mixes, grain mixes, pasta sauces, [ salsa, ] salad dressing.
Filing Date March 29, 2001
Published for Opposition July 30, 2002
Registration Date October 22, 2002
Owner (REGISTRANT) Sustainable Agrico, L.L.C. CORPORATION DELAWARE 3209 Richards Lane Santa Fe NEW MEXICO 87505

(LAST LISTED OWNER) MARS, INCORPORATED CORPORATION DELAWARE 6885 ELM STREET MCLEAN VIRGINIA 221013883

Anonymous said...

I was debating posting this comment but so many people seem to be chewing on the ownership debate...

I love chocolate too. :) But the ownership debate lights a short fuse on me so here I go...

Thank you Laura.

I personally have a major issue with owners of companies that have developed a loyalty with their customers by providing alternative 'green' holistic products, and company mission statements, and have then taken that loyalty all the way to the bank for another type of green...

It is like being sucker punched for being an ethical and conscious consumer, and then realize that there has been some major green washing going on in the B.S. marketing and manipulation R&D department.

Sooner or later, people catch on. I watched a store tell Odwalla juices to take a hike, once the connection was made to their parent company.

I guess, the hope is that we would like to expect that there are some business owners that won't sell out, so we keep looking for them...

Kelsie said...

Yes...

It makes me sad when a small, ethically minded company sells to a large, money-over-ethics corporation. It makes me even sadder that that corporation has no interest in being organic/free-trade/ethical/etc. other than the fact that those qualities mean some people will pay more for that product. I just hate the idea of companies like Clorox and Mars and Hershey (and and and and) having such a Jekyll and Hyde complex. It somehow seems worse (when it comes to corporations) to be partially ethical (for the sake of making more money/diversifying your offerings) than it does to be wholly and unabashedly un-ethical.

Carrick said...

@Laura: LOL! What a blatant lie! To be fair, the person on the phone probably just has no idea, but still, it does feel shady, doesn't it!

Moonwaves said...

Green and Blacks is owned by Cadbury Schweppes - I stick to only buying their Maya Gold chocolate if I want some as at least that is fair trade as well (but have to admit I also check the label each time to make sure it is still fairly traded). Otherwise I try to stick to fair trade and have recently tasted some really good single estate chocolate. Have to find out yet what their organic and fair trade credentials (if any) are.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the issue of ownership and disclosure of "Seeds of Change", one just needs to look on their web page on the "About Us" page. You will note that that the bottom of this section clearly notes the following, copyright Mars, Incorporated All Rights Reserved. Seeds of Change, Trademarks of Mars, Incorporated and its affliates. This information has been on their web site for 3 years. It doesn't appear that they are trying to deceive or mislead anyone regarding their relationship to a rather large "family owned" business.

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