In which we show dietitians where chocolate comes from (and remind ourselves how special it is)

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Laura Shumow, our chocolate scientist, and I have just returned from the Shopping for Health conference where we had the opportunity to interact with supermarket registered dietitians from grocery chains across the country like Wegmans, Whole Foods, Hy-Vee, Kroger and Safeway. Laura and I gave a talk on “Chocolate: from Origins to Health” that was, we think, very well received.

The dietitians were able to see and touch real cocoa pods, the fruit of the cocoa tree,  the fresh fruity pulp surrounding the cocoa seeds (misnamed cocoa beans), taste roasted cocoa nibs and learn the basic ingredients in dark, milk and white chocolate.  We talked about the hard working farm families who grow cocoa on small farms in tropical climates and Laura shared the chemical properties of the cocoa seed and the latest research on cocoa’s health effects.

The dietitians learned a lot. Some had no idea that chocolate comes from the seed of a fruit tree.  None of them had ever seen a real cocoa pod.  No one had ever tasted cocoa nibs. Laura explained the importance of roasting this raw agricultural product and why it was important to be aware of “raw” chocolate.  I explained cocoa certifications and the remoteness of many cocoa farms.

Sometimes when you know the chocolate story you forget how special it is.  Thanks, SRDs, for helping Laura and I remember.