What does it mean to be fearless? The word in its self can be interpreted many different ways depending on who you ask. To some people it means having the power to challenge yourself by not afraid to pursue your dreams in spite of the obstacles that might come your way. Who would have ever thought such a simple word would have so many layers.
In many ways the same can be said about Fearless Chocolate. The San Francisco based company is more than just a simple raw organic chocolate brand. The company has taken a strong stance in supporting Direct Trade with its coco farmers. They are also committed to preserving the environment and hope to be a zero waste company in the future. With all that being said how could you not admire their ethical values?
As for Fearless Chocolate to put it simply they are one of the few companies that believe less is more and when it comes to taste they rise above the rest. They use very few ingredients and are soy free which is a rare find. A lot of companies will increase the amount of sugar to balance out the bitterness due to the higher coco content, but since Fearless uses a high- quality coco there is really no need to change the original flavor profile of the coco.
Recently, The Green Stylist has the pleasure to ask the founder of Fearless Chocolate Jordan Michael Schuster a few questions.
Brazil was one of the biggest coco exporters of coco for hundreds of years. Up until the 80’s it was number two in the world until it dropped.
The coco farmers were developing a lot of political power and becoming very wealthy and there were some people that didn’t like that, so they introduced a botanical disease called Witches Broom into the region. It was sort of like a biological warfare and that botanical disease ended up destroying about 99 percent of the coco in Brazil in 1982. By 1986 Brazil went from being number two in the world from not even being on the map. True organic farming and people that are mainly trying to preserve the rainforests are planting coco trees and creating an economic reason for Brazil not to mow down the forest to create space for cattle, The coco trade has bounced back and I think they are considered 20th in the world when it comes to their production level and export.
At least at the moment in Brazil there is no such thing as over farming, even the best farms are only working at about 80 percent capacity.
What kind of relationship do you have with your coco farmers?
We have a strong relationship with our farmers in which they get a wage and production bonus. We are very lucky to be working with the farmers we have because they come from a long tradition of coco farming. The turnover is very low on the farm we have and other workers tend to gravitate toward the farm we use because we pay better and take care of our employees better. In return they take care of the land better. They are trying to build a legacy in their area.
The most threatening thing I see is climate shift, you don’t really know what’s going and what changes to expect. We’re working with coco which is a very sensitive plant, it’s also pollinated by this very tiny fly and we are unaware of how fragile its eco system is.
A lot of people when they talk about the eco system and about sustainability they are referring to African coco, the economy there is very fragile and a lot of people are afraid of large companies coming in and buying up all the coco. I really don’t see that happening Brazil, I’m more worried about a heavy rain season destroying the crop or not enough rain in which the rivers dry out and our crop doesn’t have the ability to get water.
We use a Paraparazinho Maranao bean which is a really good coco that is typically grown in the rainforest which is indigenous to coastal Brazil. Some of the trees are ancient and some are new, the access route is very rural. These are the places where the nearest town is around two hours across a rocky dirt road.
I’m always surprised that the organic industry is not bigger. To me it is the evident direction all farming needs to go in whether it is certified organic or just using the practice. From what I understand there are economic reasons why a lot of farmers can’t get the certification because it can be very expensive.
We live in a time where there is a lot of transition in our economy, politically and environmentally. Organic farming is one area we can effetely create radical change for everybody and it is very hard to argue in favor of using chemicals and fertilizers.
I’m always surprised that the larger companies are not getting involved in the organic chocolate industry because it is one of the fastest growing industries in the chocolate world.
The companies that do use chemicals on their coco, the average life span of their farmer is only about 55 years.
I believe elephants are magical creatures that inspire us.
I know I’m basically dissecting the underline meaning or your packaging, but what about the bite mark?
The bit mark represents wanting to give back to the community, we choose to perform the idea in a unique way and have an iconic chocolate bar and for me the bit mark is iconic. However, we do get calls from time to time questioning the bit mark asking if it is real. We love the opportunity to explain what it represents.
Lastly what does Fearless mean to you?
Fearless means to live life exceptionally, that things can be greater and better then they are.
Courtesy Image: Fearless Chocolate