by Paige Donner
Five straight days’ celebrating nothing but chocolate and the only coherent thought left in my brain is that the people who thought of, and then carried out, the Salon du Chocolat are brilliance personified.
“Five days of chocolate madness,” is what they call it and they are absolutely right! That they graciously scheduled the chocolate extravorgasma over Halloween weekend, in France, a country that doesn’t celebrate our American sugar-and-ghouls-day, was just, well, awfully sweet of them! (okay…frightful pun!)
Their names are Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet and they dedicated this year’s Paris show to Fair Trade chocolate, naming it The Green Show.
In fact the 2010 Salon du Chocolat was the event for the
The event has historically represented a link between cocoa-producing countries and chocolate consumers. It has long provided a platform for people to meet and exchange views. Alter Eco, the Fair Trade chocolate brand and importer with offices all over Europe and also in the U.S., was a big sponsor this year, as was Max Havelaar, the French arm of the Fair Trade coalition.
The Paris Salon du Chocolat featured a daily chocolate fashion show where all garments were designed by prestige chocolatiers and made out of chocolate. It featured musical entertainment, the “chocolate trends” parade, photographic exhibitions, a chocolate sculpture competition and more to showcase all the event’s “green”initiatives, which were designed to raise awareness of sustainable development and ethical consumption.
Fair Trade Farmer, Max Havelaar France And Chocolatier Bonnat
One of the more interesting breakout seminars I sat in on was all about Fair Trade and direct from farmer sourcing of cacao. The speakers, a Fair Trade farmer from Peru who spoke in Spanish which was translated by the moderator, Marie-Amélie Ormières of Max Havelaar France, and 4th generation chocolatier Stéphane Bonnat featured a lively discussion about how cacao provides a healthy means of livelihood to farmers who are paid a fair trade wage.
“Cacao for Coca,” is a successful initiative in Peru where coca plantations are being replaced by Cacao plantations farmed under Fair Trade policies. Within five years of re-planting, said the Peruvian cacao farmer, families are able to replace what they earned from coca with their Cacao crops. He also pointed out that the cacao are all mixed with reforestation programs i.e. the cacao plantations are all mixed with tree plantations. Mexico has the oldest cacao plantations cultivated by man.
It was a lucky seminar to sit in on…Master Chocolatier Mssr. Bonnat passed out rounds of his trademark, pure grade cacao artisanal chocolates – several times! – and the Peruvian farmer broke open an actual cacao fruit and had those of us who would, take the cacao seeds from inside and chew on it. It’s the first time I had seen a cacao fruit up close and certainly the first time I’d eaten a raw cacao nut. Bonnat asked us if we could taste the pure essence of the chocolate in the nut. I must say that I did and could understand why it’s considered such a complete food, the “food of the Gods.”
“You can live on chocolate. Chocolate, a little bread and beer. All you’d be missing is calcium,” explained Stéphane Bonnat .
Encouraging the development of chocolate businesses, Entrepreneur Magazine tells us that chocolate consumption has gone from “sinful to unstoppable.” Joan Steuer, founder and president of Chocolate Marketing LLC, a Los Angeles consulting firm, notes a 40% increase in chocolate sales along with a strong interest in “dark, artisanal, organic, socially responsible and nutraceutically enhanced chocolates.” AIWF
Researching the field of sustainability, it is important to recognize that this area focuses on any environmental factor that sustains, maintains, or improves the quality of our life. While being an obvious component of the sustainable system, food nurtures our basic needs for survival and for remaining well. So, does eating chocolate fit into this sustainable explanation?
New York’s Salon du Chocolat is coming up!