ChocoSol was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, as a means to practice intercultural exchange, dialogue, and environmental regeneration. Inspired by the Zapatista movement, the ChocoSol philosophy is to practice the values that they hope to see in the world, and to inspire others through action and shared learning experiences. Space Is spoke with Rebecca from ChocoSol to dig deeper into the cacao-based project and explore what it means to share this ancestral food at their store, markets and events.
“Rather than try to preach or sell values, we use cacao and chocolate as a vehicle to work alongside Indigenous communities in Mexico (and now Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Guatemala as well); help reforest the natural ecosystem of southern Mexico; begin conversations about hospitality and conviviality; explore what truly reciprocal and intercultural trade can look like; and much more. We also seek to rediscover cacao as a powerful and medicinal food, and to support a food that has, in the Western context, been commercially transformed into candy. That is why we say we make chocolate that is good for mind, body, and soil!”
The Tortilla Project is a maize-foods learning project, in which ChocoSol seeks to deepen the intercultural dialogue between Oaxaca, Mexico and Ontario, Canada. “We do this by making maize-foods inspired by the cuisine of Oaxaca, using almost entirely Ontario-grown crops. For example, we use an heirloom variety of blue maize, local organic beans, and seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables for our Tortilla Project menu. Supporting Ontario's small-scale farmers is just as important to use as regenerating Oaxaca's forest gardens.”
Do you see a need for more consciously made chocolate and food?
“Yes, we see both a need and a growing demand for consciously-made foods. More and more, people want to know the stories behind and within their foods; and consequently deciding to buy foods with stories they can feel good about. Put simply, food made with consciousness means food made by and for people. In contrast, the vast majority of chocolate is made by corporations for financial profit. Chocolate has become an edible product with a story of human and environmental exploitation. What's more, it has become a product that many people are scared to consume because of the negative health associations with high sugar, modified fats, and additives used in commercial candy bars. Alternatively, ChocoSol seeks to reclaim cacao and, through our chocolate, share the story of its role as a nutritiously rich and culturally, historically, and spiritually profound food of the gods.”
How do you think it enhances events?
“To us, events are moments and spaces for hospitality, conviviality, and community. In almost every culture and every context, these moments begin with or include sharing food. Food is the universal vehicle for hospitality, and serves to bridge differences or hesitation through shared nourishment and enjoyment. Sharing good food is thus the first step towards sharing open-minded and open-hearted dialogue. To us, these events can last for just a few minutes, like offering a small bite of our chocolate to a new face at our local farmers' markets- or can extend to ongoing journeys of shared learning and discovery. So for us, food made with a conscious does not just enhance these events, it creates them!”
Describe your ideal or favourite event space. Have you found it? What are some features of different spaces that you have enjoyed?
“While the ideal event space depends on the intentions of the event, to us, any good event space is one which facilitates an atmosphere of conviviality. By this we mean that the space should facilitate conversation, exchange, and sharing. In order to do so, the space should be accessible and welcoming to all people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse abilities or needs. It should be comfortable and invite participants to take the time and space for conversation. The event space should include any necessary tools, equipment, and technologies. For us, this typically means tables, water access, and electricity, but can also mean pen and paper or projection screens for sharing photos, videos, and information. The ideal event space would share our values of environmental sustainability, and thus include composting, waste reduction, and simple tools like reusable plates and cups for sharing food and drink. It also includes organisers and facilitators who share our value for communal dialogue, and who can create the environment in which every guest is equitably welcome, empowered, visible, and heard.”
For more information on ChocoSol: