Organic chocolate — a product of truly basic labour

These photos were selected by Leslie Savage with the permission of Vivani Chocolate, While the cacao tree is a New World tree it has been exported and planted in tropical areas throughout the world. Much of the world’s chocolate now comes from Africa but several countries in Central and South America remain important exporters, especially of organic cacao.

The photos below will give you some idea of the process by which the chocolate in your mug, or your cookies or you favourite bar is harvested.

Cacao products –raw beans, the white chocolate fat from rendered beans, and cocoa beans. Photo with permission Vivani Chocolate
Cacao pods growing on the bush. Photo with permission Vivani Chocolate
Cocoa farmer Antonio and his wife with cocoa pods. Antonio lives in the Dominican Republic, where 70% of all the world’s organically grown cocoa comes from. Ecuador is another major producer of organic cacao. Antonio sends his children to school year round, which is typical of cocoa growers in this country, where child labour is not a part of the chocolate industry as it sometimes is elsewhere. Sustainable development projects, and consumers willingness to pay for organic chocolate, have made possible the development of organic chocolate as an industry in the Dominican Republic. The CEO of Vivani Chocolate of Germany, Andreas Meyer, visited the Dominican Republic in 2009. His report on the condition of small farmers is on the Vivani web site, under Press notice at Photo with permission Vivani Chocolate
A worker cuts a cacao pod. Photo with permission Vivani Chocolate
The cacao beans are picked from their pods, then placed on banana leaves. Photo with permission Vivani Chocolate
The beans are allowed to ferment under a layer of leaves. Photo with permission Vivani Chocolate
The final step before being exported to a chocolate producer is to dry the beans in the sun. Photo with permission Vivani Chocolate
This diagram of a drying conche explains the principle of refining. The constant movement produces aeration, and undesired, volatile substances are removed. Illustration with permission Vivani Chocolate