Your daily indulgence just got a little bit sweeter thanks to Loving Earth, a raw vegan chocolate brand that’s committed to health, sustainability, and fair trade initiatives. In fact, that's the company motto: "Healthy. Sustainable. Fair."
Driven by these core values, Loving Earth produces raw vegan chocolate products that are also free of refined sugar, gluten, and grains, not to mention artificial additives. Because the chocolate is processed raw, it’s rich in both antioxidants and in flavor.
The Journey to Raw, Vegan Chocolate
Loving Earth founder Scott Fry came to vegan chocolate production the long way around.
Fry got his start not in chocolate but rather in community development in rural India, where agriculture was quickly losing its viability as an income source. As he witnessed locals selling their topsoil to brick makers to make a living, Fry dedicated himself to helping indigenous populations support themselves while honoring both their traditions and their local resources. His solution: create a premium organic brand that brought locally produced products to conscious consumers.
It was thanks to a fortuitous meeting with a Mexican businessman that Fry discovered his opportunity to make this dream a reality: working with a Mayan cooperative to help them find a market for their coffee, an encounter that brought him – finally – to chocolate.
“One of the guys that was kind of managing the cooperative lived on a cacao farm, and his passion was cacao,” explains Fry. “He had a little side project where he was trying to rescue this heirloom variety.”
Fascinated by the story, Fry decided to devote himself to the production of fair-trade vegan chocolate, and Loving Earth was born. In 2007, when Fry and co-founder Martha Butler returned to Melbourne from Mexico, they brought with them the ingredients to create their very first vegan chocolate bars.
The Loving Earth Philosophy
The philosophy behind Loving Earth is based upon that of James Lovelock’s Gaia theory – that the earth is a living organism to be nurtured – and is present in everything the company does.
The products themselves are designed to be healthy, first and foremost, though the company pays careful attention to not buy into hypes and trends when it comes to health.
“We need to decide for ourselves the validity of all the information we constantly receive and be open to learning from the collective experiences of older cultures to experience a healthier, more vibrant life,” explains Fry.
The company also seeks to be as sustainable and fair as possible, making efforts towards developing compostable packaging and using sustainable agricultural practices and transport, as well as paying close attention to the ways in which the company can have a positive effect on the lives of the people producing the source ingredients.
“It’s not just about fair trade chocolate, and it’s about so much more than the price,” says Fry. “It’s about sharing stories and history, honoring communities, and letting people know where our products come from.”
Peruvian Cacao, Australian Chocolate
With time, Loving Earth moved its production away from Mexico to the Peruvian Andes. It was here that the first genetic material for cacao developed, and it is here that, for the past three years, Loving Earth has taken measures to help protect it.
In recent years, hybrid cacao plants have replaced heirloom varieties due to their higher growth rates. But Fry and the Loving Earth team want to protect these more aromatic traditional varieties, and in cooperation with the Amazonian Asháninka community, they are doing just that.
Loving Earth has set up a system whereby the community separates the hybrid cacao from heirloom Criollo. The community is incentivized to continue to grow this variety due to the high premium that Loving Earth pays.
“We want to encourage them not to grow the hybrid but to grow their native varieties, their beautiful aromatic varieties that they're also discovering are more sustainable in the mid- to long-term, even though they don't yield as much,” explains Fry.
Loving Earth purchases the entire harvest, which is transported by canoe for up to 150 kilometers before reaching one of 14 post-harvest centers along the river. The fermented beans are then sent to Loving Earth's Melbourne facilities, where they are transformed into the company's raw chocolate products.
Instead of being roasted, the raw heirloom cacao is first disinfected with an organic citrus-based product. It is then dried and crushed with coconut sugar, cashew, coconut, or cacao butter, depending on the bar being made.
Loving Earth sells eight different chocolate bars in the States, including 72 percent dark, berry crunch, salted caramel, and crunchy mint. Its mylk chocolates are made with either cashew or coconut milk, and the company even produces a vegan white chocolate dubbed caramel because of the deep color afforded by the coconut sugar, sourced from a small village in Java.
“All the post-harvest processing is done at the village level in the community, so the men will climb the trees twice a day to collect the nectar, and then during the day they come back to their houses and they process it into sugar,” explains Fry. “They've got this technique that they've been using for generations to make this beautiful, completely unrefined coconut sugar with all of the minerals still in tact and a beautiful, complex flavor profile.”
We might be seeing some new products on the horizon as well, including a new truffle-style chocolate made with maple syrup and activated almonds.
One thing’s for sure – this Australian company will continue to be at the forefront of raw vegan chocolate production.
“I think one of the things that sets us a little bit apart is we've been a pioneer," says Fry. "I'd like to think we're providing inspiration to others to do the same thing.”
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