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Of course I would buy Haitian Chocolate – but how??

Girl with Bent Hair by Louis Eric LE 2422

Me without chocolate.

Chocolate is life – isn’t that how the saying goes? Well, it might as well be. It is a certainly a truism in my case. I love chocolate. Mostly dark, but really, in a pinch anything will do. Even leftover Christmas chocolate in February before the Valentine’s Day haul is bestowed. In desperate moments, I am unashamedly unfussy.

Imagine my delight then, when I read that Haiti, ever near and dear to my heart, is one of the leading cocoa bean producers in the Caribbean and that the cocoa beans are really GOOD cocoa beans. According to a blog post on the Agrinomes Y Veteriniers Sans Frontiers website (Translated from the French: Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders) Haitian cocoa trees are old varieties, primarily Criollo and Trinitario, and that these varieties are highly sought after by producers of fine chocolates due to their robust aromatic qualities. Fermented beans of these types fetch huge prices on the world market and could be a real boon to Haiti’s agricultural economy. (Do you sense a “but” here?) But, Haiti by and large, does not have the equipment or know-how to ferment their beans to international standards. For the most part, then, Haiti’s unfermented beans are being sold for bargain basement prices to mediocre chocolate producers, who blend them with beans from other sources and crank out ho-hum chocolates. My delight turned to despair on a dime.

Happily, there is a movement afoot to band the Haitian cocoa farmers together into cooperatives and teach them fermentation and organic farming farming techniques as well as giving them access to fair trade markets. Slowly but surely, Haitian cocoa is making its way to the finest European chocolatiers while small

Jump for Joy SM524 by Julio Balan

Me with chocolate. What a happy difference!

farmers back in Haiti are reaping their rightful rewards. Promising, certainly, and all of this got me to wondering if Haitian chocolate was available in the U.S. market as well.

I began my quest online and after a fairly exhaustive Google search, I found two sources for 75% Dark Haitian Chocolate bars called “Bonnat” which are products of the AVSF co-ops. Unfortunately in both cases, the bars were not currently available for purchase. A bit of a set-back, to be sure. Quickly though, I had an “ah-ha!” moment as I remembered that I had bought some Haitian chocolate bars from my favorite chocolatier in the universe: “Todos Santos Chocolates” in Santa Fe, NM last fall. I called them up and asked if they still had the Haitian chocolate bars and if so could they send me a few? Sadly, the answer was no. Their supplier went out of business and they needed to find another source before they could re-order. They would, however, be happy to call me when they get them in again.

Wow. I’d love to feed my chocolate habit with Haitian chocolate – but how? I wonder if it’s inaccessibility is due to still relatively small production and those danged Europeans gobbling it all up, or if it’s an infrastructure problem, or if The Big Boys that hold a monopoly 95% of all Haitian cocoa exports didn’t like the Small Fries banding together and challenging their control of the market. The mind boggles. If I get any answers, I’ll be sure to let you know…

                                               Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

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