Conserving an Ancient Heirloom Cacao Variety

vancouver exhibitors Sep 14, 2021

By Artisan's Way Organics

Arriba Nacional is an ancient cacao variety that traces its lineage back 5300 years to the earliest known domesticated cacao trees and is found in the volcanic mountainous regions of Ecuador. This variety was so coveted by European fine chocolatiers for its fruity taste and floral aroma that Ecuador was the world’s number one exporter of cacao throughout the 1800’s. In 1916 and 1919 diseases wiped out the crops and it was thought that this variety was lost forever. It wasn’t until 2009 that the Nacional variety was rediscovered and brought back from the brink. Today, Ecuador only supplies 4% of the world’s cacao but it has become the #1 exporter of “fine flavor” cacao in the world again thanks to the Nacional and Criollo varieties.

Arriba Raw Chocolate uses only beans of the Arriba Criollo variety. This is a hybrid of the Nacional variety and the Criollo variety which is another rare heirloom cacao grown in South America that is used by fine chocolatiers around the world. This combination is less bitter than most other cacao. These beans are grown by small organic family farms and are fairly traded and provide valuable jobs and income to Ecuador. We also pay a living wage to our employees as we believe strongly that everyone involved in our process from farm to bar needs fair compensation along the way.

During harvest, the beans are hand picked and fermented at low temperatures, dried, and peeled, then lightly roasted to not destroy the valuable polyphenols and antioxidants. After that, they are ground into a paste and then shipped to us where we process it into bars here on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Canada in Sechelt, BC. 

Sugar cane not so vegan after all.

Our bars are sweetened with minimally processed coconut sugar rather than over processed white or cane sugar. Coconut sugar is just dried sap from the coconut flower. It’s lower on the glycemic index and contains a much lower level of fructose than many other sweeteners. Most people are not aware of this but sugar cane which is found in most “vegan” chocolate is quite harmful to the ecosystems and the animals that live there. The planting of huge water-intensive sugar cane crops around the world has had a massive effect on the animal biodiversity in those regions. It requires heavy fertilizing which pollutes nearby waterways. Sugar mills that process the plant matter expel massive amounts of plant matter waste that decomposes in freshwater absorbing all the available oxygen causing fish die offs. The sugar mills are heavy emitters of greenhouse gases as well as ammonia, soot, ash, flue gases, and other toxic substances. The land is also stripped during preparation for planting which causes further biodiversity loss. It’s been especially damaging to turtles. So while sugar cane is technically “vegan” to most people we do not see it the same way because of the environmental destruction that happens during its production. Coconuts are not perfect either, no crop is. Everything has an environmental impact but the impact of coconut sugar is very minimal as the trees are naturally pest resistant so don’t require any chemicals or fertilizer, provide habitat for animals, and are harvested by hand so there is no massive farm machinery involved and the nearby animals are not disturbed in the same way as when fields of sugar cane are harvested.

We are a 100% vegan company and produce everything in a vegan facility. We take great pride in keeping our entire process as friendly to animals as possible using all organic and less environmentally damaging ingredients. To check out our products, both chocolate and nut butters that we also make in house visit us at our website, instagram, or the Planted Expo in Vancouver on Nov 20th and 21st.

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