To prepare for our family fun night, Little J and I did some further research on the cacao tree, the rainforest, and the impact of chocolate on the rainforest. I'm listing some great links below that we found very helpful. It turns out that just choosing some chocolate to taste is more complicated than I thought. Where the cacao tree is grown, how it is cared for, how it is harvested, and what ingredients are added to it to make it edible chocolate all can have an impact on the rainforest and the inhabitants of it.
According to our research, the best chocolate to purchase with rainforest conservation in mind is organic, shade grown, fair-trade chocolates, and does not contain palm oil. Whew, there's a lot to think about.
Why care about the rainforest anyway? I wasn't aware of this statement, but find it very fascinating, is that rainforests make up only 6% of land in the world, but are thought to be home to over 50% of all species. Wow.
Well, back to the fun part! Our chocolate tasting night!
I can think of dozens of ways to do a chocolate tasting, but I wanted to keep it simple, fun, and educational for us. Little J's favorite chocolates are plain milk chocolate, so I started with that. A local gourmet food store has a fabulous chocolate department with a knowledgeable staff. They helped me choose three milk chocolates some of which are shade grown, organic, and/or are fair trade.
Divine Milk Chocolate bar.
Fair trade, cocoa from Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana.
Chocolate Santander. Cocoa from
small farms in Columbia, South America.
We didn't do a score card for this tasting. We simply enjoyed the chocolate and talked about the appearance, smell, and taste of each bar. We started with the bar with the lowest percent of cacao and worked our way up. We sipped water or milk between bars to clear our palates We enjoyed all the chocolate, but our favorite ended up being the Divine Chocolate bar. Their little faces and hands were smeared with chocolate, I think they had fun.
Here are some links to rainforest information and conservation if you are interested.http://www.rainforestrelief.org/