Everyone, well almost everyone, loves to enjoy chocolate as one of their daily snacks. Whether it’s dark chocolate or milk chocolate, the key ingredient is cocoa. Without cocoa there are no chocolate snacks in New York City. Frank Mars, board member of Mars, Inc recently spoke at the Fourth World Cocoa Conference about his concern about the future of cocoa, and that should concern all chocolate lovers.
According to Frank Mars, the participants at the conference need “to think differently and work harder together; not only on better [cocoa] plant varieties and farming practices and models, but also on pest and disease control.” Mars further explained that the current progress is not enough to make cocoa sustainable unless more change is made.
So what exactly is sustainable cocoa? According to the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, sustainable cocoa is cocoa “produced according to economic, environmental, and social requirements, either through internationally recognized standards such as Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade, or through sourcing comparable to those standards, which have been verified by an “approved method.” Put simply, cocoa farmers need to be able to produce more cocoa seed on less land with fewer pesticides. The increased cocoa yields would allow farmers to plant crops for themselves in place of less efficient cocoa trees thereby improving their own livelihood and quality of life.
New York City Employees
Why should New York City employees be concerned about the cocoa in their chocolate snacks? Because the quality of cocoa used to make chocolate snacks is impacted by the growing, harvesting, fermenting & drying (processing), roasting & grinding, and pressing methods used to make cocoa. Growing, harvesting, and fermenting & drying (processing) are also stages that are directly impacted by sustainable farming practices.
This is important because according to recent research by the Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science, “harvesting and processing of the cocoa seed determines the final cocoa flavanol content,” and “the cocoa seed has a unique combination of flavanols that is found in no other food exactly as it is found in cocoa.” Flavanols are beneficial for New York City employees’ health. Not only do flavanols support heart health but they also positively impact cognitive function and circulation.
Healthy and mentally sharp employees are great for any New York City business. One way to ensure that employees have access to snacks with chocolate made from sustainable cocoa is to offer those snacks in the break room vending machine or micro-market. The snacks are healthier, as long as there isn’t too much sugar in them, and easier to find since they are onsite. Don’t forget to offer other healthy beverages such as bottled water or coffee and tea in the office break room to enjoy with a chocolate snack — hydration is also important.