What is the difference between chocolate and cacao?

What is the difference between chocolate and cacao?

Many people think that chocolate and cacao are the same thing, but they are not. Cacao is a sacred plant medicine and what you eat as modern-day chocolate is far from that. Let's go through the three main difference between chocolate and sacred cacao. 

First, is the way the beans are processed. 

Sacred cacao is very lightly processed. What you receive is extremely close to the source. The beans have only undergone three steps. The beans are firsthand harvested. Then they undergo fermentation, being sun-dried, and being ground (sometimes there is a fourth stage of being lightly roasted over an open flame) and that's it! When you are working with a plant medicine you don't want it to be overly processed. 

Chocolate on the other hand is extremely over processed. The trees themselves are mass produced without a care for ritual or respect. They sprayed with herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides to yield the most crops, without a care for the negative affects this has on us and the trees. The cocoa beans are then fermented and baked in industrial ovens, over roasting the beans and stripping them of many of their nutritional benefits. Next, they are massively ground up in giant machines that have quality control measures in place allowing a certain number of bugs and rodents due to the laws around giant warehouses and facilities. And finally, these beans are mixed with tons (literally) of milk, sugar, and flavoring products to hide the extremely bitter taste of the over roasted beans. Then preservatives and other additives are mixed in to keep them from melting, change the texture, and increase shelf life. The final product, a far cry from the original sourced bean. This is an unrecognizable substance from the original plant. 

It's also important to remember that cacao is a plant medicine with a Spirit, an essence. This essence is completely stripped away during the extensive processing of chocolate. On the other hand, with the minimal processing of cacao, we make sure to preserve the Spirit of Ix'Cacao, the goddess of cacao who is with you in each cup. Our trees are blessed, offerings are placed at their roots, there is prayer and gratitude poured into the trees throughout the growing process, thanking Mama Cacao and Ix'Cacao for sharing her sacred medicine with us. We include ceremony around the growing and the harvesting of the beans. This adds in an energy you can feel when you drink your sacred cacao. This is the energetic side of the beans. Where chocolate on the other hand is very commercialized there is no intentions there are no prayers.  

Second, is the varietal of tree.

There are three main varietals of cacao trees (there are thousands, but they are put into three main categories). The Criollo, the Trinitario, and the Forastero. Criollo is the one the Mayans use in their ceremonies and rituals. It is thought to be the original cacao tree for medicinal purposes. Forastero is a varietal that the commercialized chocolate industry cultivated because it is stronger in the sense that it can be planted in more places and doesn't die as easily to pests, weather, and water issues. And Trinitario is the hybrid between these two varietals. 

All three of the varietals are considered sacred. However, it is important to know the origin of your beans and how the trees are taken care of. For it is very common for the Forastero beans to be very bitter and full of chemicals from the mass production of commercialized chocolate. These are typically the lowest quality beans. 

Third, is the history and traditions. 

Cacao is used in an intentional and medicinal way. With reciprocity between the plant and the human. There's a sacred balanced give and receive energy cultivated when we hold deep respect for a plant medicine. We treat the trees with respect, we treat the people who care for the trees with respect, we treat the process of alchemizing the beans with respect. There are ethical and sustainable processes weaved into this relationship. This is a sustainable loving relationship. 

The sacredness of and history of cacao preserved when you drink cacao. When you drink cacao, it is part of a ritual, where you honor the origins of this bean, the wisdom keepers of this bean, Mother Nature, and yourself. It is in this practice that we can be mindful of the Mayan people for preserving this wisdom for us. We can be mindful of the medicinal power of this plant medicine and its sacredness. Through drinking cacao, you are keeping this wisdom and these rituals alive. Drinking cacao is also part of an intentional setting of your energy for the day. Aiding you in connecting deeper to yourself and your heart wisdom. 

Whereas when you eat chocolate, it is not ceremonial or intentional. In fact, all the respect for the plant medicine has been lost. When people eat chocolate, they are completely unaware they are eating part of a plant medicine. There is a huge disconnect between the person eating the chocolate and the original cacao pod. 

It's by no coincidence that cacao is emerging on a larger scale now. There is a Mayan legend that says when humans are at their most disconnected from Mother Nature and themselves then Ix'Cacao the goddess of cacao will walk out of the jungle once again and make herself know once more to teach us how to reconnect. 

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