Article by Dr Sarah Lantz
Let’s face it, any holiday worth celebrating has a stash of chocolate accompanying it: woo your Valentine with delicate, champagne truffles, fill Christmas stockings with chocolate Santa’s, and you can even fling cream-filled chocolate balls at unsolicited trick-or-treaters at Halloween. But Easter really is the Olympics of chocolate. It is quite literally the zenith of cacao delights, and Australians spend about 50 per cent more on chocolate over the Easter holiday than during any other week of the year. And why not!
Whilst the history of why we have chocolate and eggs and rabbits as symbols of Easter are a little hazy and potentially controversial, I think it is generally safe to say that Easter symbolises new life, birth, fertility and regeneration, in whatever tradition you come from. Why we specifically have chocolate, now that’s even more obscure, but given that the sacred spirit of Cacao has been honoured throughout history as early as the Mayan and Aztec times (‘xocoatl’), surely, we need no further explanation. The name of the chocolate plant itself, Theobroma (theos) means ‘god’ and (broma) means ‘food’ literally translates to ‘food of the Gods’ and cacao itself has been revered throughout the ages for its blissful heart-opening qualities and nutrient-dense health benefits.
Science also backs this up, establishing that quality cacao is rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and a range of antioxidants called flavonoids. It stands to reason then, and multiple clinical trials have confirmed, that consuming cacao can help with anaemia, lower the risk of cardiometabolic diseases by improving the markers for triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and fasting insulin, improve brain function and our ability to focus, and lift our mood.
Whilst I generally agree with many chocolate connoisseur’s that there can never be too much chocolate, there are a few important hard and fast rules that one simply must adhere to when it comes to purchasing Easter chocolate.
Firstly, there is no denying that the almighty Easter egg you gift to a dear loved one this year will be delectable, but will it be ethical? A good egg is an ethical egg. There is a bitter sweet irony when it comes to light that some of the Easter eggs that children are looking for in their Easter egg hunts actually come off the back of the poverty and oppression of children, and their families. So, if you want to ensure that it’s a happy Easter egg hunt for your children, make sure that the eggs are free of child-labour and the conditions in their crafting are fair.
There are many noble Australian companies that are championing fair-trade and organic chocolate, and what better time of year to go ethical this Easter with all its chocolate offerings. You will be amply rewarded with sumptuous, delectable chocolate if you do, I promise.
Secondly, make sure your chocolate is palm oil free. There is simply stacks of evidence that testifies to the devastation that palm oil plantations are having on communities, global warming and species violations.
Thirdly, to ensure your chocolate is delicious from the first mouthful to the last, make sure is in fact chocolate and not confectionary “ a little labelling loop hole that we have here in Australia. Whilst most chocolate is crafted naturally using the cacao bean and cacao butter, confectioners are known to sell Easter eggs that are little more than sugar, vegetable fats, emulsifiers and a small amount cacao mass. So make sure your chocolate is actually chocolate people! If you can’t tell, consult your taste buds who are innately attune to that low quality, gritty, waxy, fat-palette, texture that some companies try to palm off as chocolate. It’s not. Fine chocolate has a large cacao mass content (and cannot be found in a vending machine). Since cacao butter melts at or just below body temperature, quality chocolate melts quickly in the mouth or in the palm of your hand. When tasting chocolate, let a small piece melt on your tongue to experience the full and enchanting depth of flavour. That’s the good stuff, right there.
And finally, what do you do with all those luminescent Easter wrappers after all the delectable chocolate has been devoured? They must be recycled. While aluminium is an abundant element within the Earth’s surface, getting it out of the ground is an arduous mining process, requiring heavy machinery, and then an energy and resource intensive and emissions-heavy manufacturing process is required. So, after demolishing your Easter chocolate, roll all of your foil into fairly big balls and place them into the yellow recycling bin so they can have another happy life.
And a last word from my children to all you parents out there….carob is not chocolate. Full stop. It’s just not. Don’t even try.
Happy Easter to you.
Why not try Dr Sarah Lantz’s delicious Show-Stopping Easter Truffle recipe?
Dr Sarah Lantz (PhD)
Buchi Brew Co. & Sacred Women’s Way