In a Word
When I said I’d review some health food products for Kaizen, I opted for the cacao nibs because I work with Cornwall’s only bean to bar chocolate maker. My client selects ethically sourced beans, has them sail shipped to the UK and then creates a unique roast for each bean type, which is then conched for up to 90 hours, and nothing but raw sugar, sometimes organic milk powder and sometimes foraged fruits or flowers are added. I happen to be someone who knows how much work it takes to create these luxury products.
So, when these guys arrived, weighing in at more expensive than two of said clients’ labour intensive bars, I did a little LOL, and rang him. Essentially his response was FUCK! You mean I could be selling the beans just ground up and unprocessed for the same amount of money. And we laughed!
He then advised me to caramelise them to balance the bitterness, but having tried raw chocolate working on a farm in Ecuador, I thought I’d have a munch on some of them just as they are. And in fairness they are actually very ‘clean’. I don’t just mean in a clean eating sense, but they do taste good, and have a good crunch. Some I’ve tasted are chalkier, earthier, but these had a sweetness that depict a good quality. I munched a few handfuls and really enjoyed their complex sweet, and berry like flavour. Like a really good coffee that you brew well, they have a depth of flavour that indicates a good choice.
So they were good, then?
Yep, they were good on their own. I mean I’m not just looking at them as a health food; I have learnt a bit about chocolate over the last year and they are definitely a high quality bean, from origin in South America. Ostensibly, the better location to get cacao beans from, since that’s where they originated!
Mostly they were also delicious added to smoothies, or used to make a healthy hot chocolate drink, which required a little 100% cocoa powder too. You can buy this from Kaizen as well, but similarly it carries a price tag. Health food is big business, and this is not something I’m entirely comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong, I approve of the idea of eating healthy, and try to practise it by way of a balanced diet. And this is really the crucial point: anything in moderation is healthy.
I did caramelise some of them, and they were delicious: crispy, sweet and an excellent topper for cereals, desserts and just as a snack. However, just because they are organic, this doesn’t ensure that they are traded fairly, nor explain entirely the £10 price tag for grinding up good quality beans.
It’s a way of life
Kaizen encourage people to follow a specific way of life when using their products, and this is not something I fully subscribe to; since it ultimately also fosters the attitude of spending more. Add to that the story of ‘Superfood Bobby’, and I smell bullshit.
But the nibs taste good and are not pumped full of any of the crap you get in mass produced chocolate.
The chocolate crisis
Rather than the media purported chocolate crisis, wherein disease was sabotaging plantations in Africa, and many farmers are opting to farm rubber because there is less labour involved; for me the bigger chocolate crisis is centred around mass market consumption. The sheer volume of the cheap, nasty non-ethical chocolate that is both made and consumed worldwide is astounding, and indicative of bigger issues. Kaizen offer a guilt free way to still enjoy the taste of chocolate, the antioxidant benefits, and not be part of the bullshit.
And that’s a good thing.
But I would like to know more about how well their farmers are paid for the beans, and would recommend 100% chocolate from any bean to bar producer as a more versatile, cost effective and certified ethical option.
Where can I get me some?
Kaizen products are stocked in health food stores across the country, and can all be bought directly from the website. They sell other clean living foods such as chlorella, spirulina, chia seeds and so on. Hop over to www.kaizenliving.co.uk to have a look.