Sunday, September 26, 2010

Safari #13: One Bite at a Time

Did you ever think that eating chocolate could support the local economy, promote direct trade, and be environmentally conscious?  If you eat Taza Chocolate, it certainly can.

My latest safari took me on a tour of the Taza factory in Somerville, where Taza has been making artisanal, organic chocolate for nearly four years.  Made Mexican style, the chocolate is ground using stone mills allowing for smaller bits to remain within the finished product offering a distinct and rustic texture. 

Taza uses direct trade to purchase its cocoa beans.  Rather than using fair trade, where a middle man acquires beans without regard to growing practices, Taza buys beans directly from a farm in the Dominican Republic.  Direct trade allows Taza to ensure that the farm uses both humane and organic farming methods.

Last but not least, Taza uses environmentally sustainable practices for the production and shipping of its products.  Each chocolate is hand-wrapped using bio-degradable paper and shipped using corn-based insulation.  The remaining cocoa shells (removed from the cocoa bean after roasting) are sold as mulch to local and organic gardens and to local breweries as an ingredient in beer.

If you're interested in learning more about how Taza produces its chocolate (and to taste some of its chocolatey goodness), sign-up to take a factory tour at the company website. 

A few tips before you go:
  • Skip the sandals and fragrances.  Since you are entering a manufacturing facility, you must wear closed toed shoes and refrain from wearing perfume or cologne.
  • Prepare to expand your palate.  You'll get a chance to try some traditional dark chocolate (ranging from 60 to 80%), but you will also be offered traditional Mexican flavors like spiced chilli pepper.  It's a little different, but it's worth trying.
  • Don't leave without chocolate.  While finished chocolate is sold in local retail stores and used at many local restaurants, you can also bring some home.  At home, it can be eaten as is or shaved and mixed into liquid (like milk) to make hot chocolate.
  • The factory is within short walking distance of Inman Square in Cambridge (accessible to the 69 bus) or a 10 minute walk from Union Square in Somerville (accessible to the 86 bus).

1 comment:

  1. I'd always considered checking out the Taza Factory. I heard it was even better after they fixed it up after the flood. I've tasted the chocolate at assorted events around Somerville, and got it once for a topping at Berry Line :)

    I'll have to finally check out the factory!