I saw many topics related to whether there is such a thing as raw chocolate... and felt a desire to say something...
My mother works at a large international chocolate company... not wonderful in the eyes of a raw foodist I know, but she is extremely supportive and I love her :)... So... I first went raw last year for about six months... I stopped but have started again...
Anyway last year I went raw crazy like most people tend to do when they start... I read a lot of information about superfoods and felt the need to have them all! When I found raw chocolate I was delighted.
So excited that I called my mother to tell her about it... When I explained in detail the idea of "raw chocolate"... She almost laughed at the idea... she said she could guarantee me that there was no such thing as raw chocolate... I was very strong in my protest not wanting to believe she was right, "No mom maybe you don't understand what I mean by raw..."
My mother spent most of my youth in Brazil, on cacao plantations... She still regularly visits to teach other workers about cacao harvesting, and blending to create different flavors of chocolate. Anyway she said that it would be virtually impossible to sell raw cacao beans. That in order to create the dried bean itself it has to be heated above 114 degrees, no option about it. She also said that it would be very dangerous to eat raw cacao beans because they contain salmonella which is killed during the drying process. She said in Brazil, that there are regulations about the production of cacao beans and that one of them is on drying temperatures. Now I realize that Brazil is not the only place that grows cacao beans, but common sense leads me to believe it must be similar around the world.
After this she came to visit me in London, and she bought some raw chocolate bars to take back to her work. Whenever she goes to a foreign place, she collects chocolate and takes it back to her lab and her and her fellow workers taste and do experiments with it. She said that "raw chocolate" is definitely more healthy then the chocolate they manufacture at her company, but its not raw. She made a point that there is no "raw food regulation" or truly "raw certificate" out yet, so she believes that it is up to the seller to label the products. She made another point that because of this there are no legal actions that can be taken against producers of fake raw products. She also talked about how these regulations are set, in the US, by the USDA and it has only been within the past years that they have set up a program to regulate the production of organic food. Often that certificate takes years for farmers to obtain as their soil content and produce is monitored for sometime before they can receive a organic certification. The raw food industry does not yet have this system.
I'm not suggesting that the USDA be in charge of this process either, as I have little faith in the USDA establishment. I believe it will be in the hands of raw foodists to create our own testing and certification centers in order to create a standard of raw, to guarantee what we are consuming is truly raw.
I don't claim to be an expert on this matter, but I do consider my mother to be so...I don't expect everyone will here will be persuaded by this post, and that is not my intention. I just thought I would share some information that I found valuable...
Wow. Thanks for that balanced analysis and commentary. I love chocolate and make my own bars with "raw" chocolate nibs, raw coconut butter and other ingredients, but I must admit to being confused about the healthiness of this. I have read posts that site scientific journals that conclude chocolate is a "poison", and others that promote the antioxidant qualities of chocolate.