Real Chocolate

Most people have never eaten real chocolate. Sure, we’ve all wolfed down plenty of “chocolate” candies, bars and cakes. But as you’ll see here, very little of that is actually made from real chocolate. Virtually all the chocolate used in modern foods is derived from a hybridized cacao plant that lacks the phytochemical potency that gives real chocolate its many beneficial properties. So even though almost everyone has tasted chocolate, very few people have actually experienced true heirloom cacao from the original, phytonutrient-rich plants. Cacao originated in a region now spanning the border of Ecuador and Colombia. Its plants were discovered thousands of years ago, and the cacao fruit and seeds have been used throughout South American culture for as long as human history can remember. Heirloom cacao is called Arriba Nacional or just “Arriba” for short. That’s the real cacao from Ecuador, harvested from heirloom plants growing just the way they grew thousands of years ago.

In comparison, virtually all the chocolate used in candy bars, chocolate chips, chocolate cakes, breads and so on is derived from the hybridized plant called CCN-51 — a pale shadow of the heirloom “Arribe Nacional” cacao it was supposed to replace. Most consumers have no idea the chocolate they’ve been eating is “watered down” with what is effectively a cheap, weakened cacao substitute. And if you’ve been eating that watered down chocolate all your life, you’re in for a real surprise when you get your hands on “Arribe Nacional” cacao, which has a deeper, more complex and “floral” flavor profile. My first experience of real chocolate was enjoyed in Ecuador, where I lived on and off for two years. One day I drove to a nursery in Zamora, a small city to the East of Loja (in Southern Ecuador). There, we picked fresh cacao pods right off the trees, sliced open the tops and began to eat the cacao fruit.

Cacao trees have fruit. It’s a thin layer of sweet fruity flesh surrounding the cacao bean, sort of in the way a lychee fruit has a layer of delicious white fruit flesh surrounding its central seed. Cacao fruit tastes a little bit like fresh lychee fruit, in fact, with a hint of chocolate flavor in it. Once you eat the fruit, you’re left with cacao seed pods. This is where “chocolate” comes from. The seed pods are usually ground into a fine powder, with the oils being mechanically separated from the non-oil substances which are then subjected to a combination of drying, fermentation and cooking (depending on who’s doing the processing), creating a finished cacao powder. This fine cacao powder is what goes into fine chocolates, often sweetened with sugars or enriched with milk fats. Hence the name “Milk chocolate.” However, the higher cost of heirloom chocolate has kept it out of the hands of all but the most selective chocolate artisans. The number of chocolate-making shops in America that use real heirloom cacao in their confections probably numbers less than ten. That’s why virtually no one in North America has ever tasted real chocolate before.

In Ecuador, there’s a company producing 100% heirloom cacao that’s truly raw (never goes above 118 degrees during processing), truly organic and “single origin” meaning it’s all from one region and not blended with other cacaos from other countries. That company is called Pacari, and its founder, Santiago, introduced me to his line of heirloom cacao one evening at a raw foods gathering at Matt Monarch’s house in the Valley of Longevity near Vilcabamba, Ecuador. There, I had the opportunity to taste 100% raw, unsweetened, full-potency heirloom cacao — and it was a superfood experience that forever changed my perception about just how powerful and even enlightening superfoods can be.

Food of the Gods?

You see, the best-known active ingredient in cacao is a bitter alkaloid called theobromine. The Latin prefix “theo” is of course the same root as in the word “theology,” meaning the study of God. Bromine comes from “broma” which, in the variation of “brosi” is Latin for “food.” Theobromine, then, is literally translated into “food of God” or “food of the Gods.” Why would cacao be named “food of the Gods?” If you just eat regular watered-down chocolate, you’ll probably never know. To really attain a deeper experience of cacao, you must eat the heirloom variety that’s naturally high in theobromine and other alkaloids. And once you do that, your experience may give you a greater understanding of why, over the last several thousand years, the indigenous people of South America have used superfoods like cacao to support their connection on a spiritual level. (Source: Mike Adams,


One thought on “Real Chocolate

  1. Interesting, thanks. I’ve just learned that Arriba Nacional is a forastero tree. And only in Ecuador is the name Arriba. If you bring it to another country it will be a Forastero again. Is that true?

    all the choco best

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