River Sea Chocolate 64% dark chocolate, Dominican Republic
Made by Chantilly, Virginia USA
Flavor Notes: walnut, caramel, and tart cherry
The passions for cacao, wildlife conservation, and sustainable development unite at Reserva Zorzal- a 1019 acre bird sanctuary and organic cacao farm in the northern mountain range of the Dominican Republic. The first cacao farm in the world to receive the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Shade-Grown, “bird-friendly” Certificate
Cacao beans, organic cane sugar, cacao butter
* produced in a facility that uses nuts, cow milk, & coconut
RIVERSEA CHOCOLATE OWNERS, Krissee and Mariano,
“heard about a family friend's farm in the fertile delta and traveled there to see about opportunities to purchase cacao. In Brazil, a phone call is never good enough to make a deal, you need a face-to-face encounter to get any type of information. The drive took hours through traffic, over bridges, potholes, dirt roads, past a Japanese settlement community, and to the farm with papaya, black pepper, cacao, and cumin growing. While touring the farm they learned it had been robbed twice at gun point, this greatly traumatized the owners, and shows the challenges of being successful in a country with corruption and violence.
They bought 10 kilos of cacao beans and stopped for lunch at the equivalent of a trucker roadside restaurant - except in the jungle with monkey noises, and that served deep purple bowls of açaí with fried fish and tapioca. On the way back they almost hit a sloth crossing the road. It was rush hour and vehicles drive 120km/hour or crazy fast down paved roads. They stopped to help him make it safely to the other side. It is not uncommon for these guys to get run over, people say the result of diminishing habitat due to logging and the slash and burn agriculture. The sloth was so happy about it that he asked for a selfie.
These types of social and environmental distresses coat the otherwise beautiful culture Brazil has become. But craft chocolate is an eco-friendly force for social change that can improve the lives of people in the region while turning them away from the need to destroy forest. Stories of bean-to-bar and tree-to-bar social and environmental impact victories in regions like Peru, Tanzania, Grenada, and Vietnam demonstrate the power of empowerment through chocolate. Read more about River-Sea's sustainability and social impact practices here.