The Good Chocolatier: Ethical, Healthy, and Delicious Chocolate

Many enjoy indulging in a chocolate treat, but have you ever thought about the ethics and potential health benefits behind the chocolate you’re consuming? At The Good Chocolatier they are dedicated to providing the most ethical and healthy chocolate possible, so you can enjoy your chocolate while also reaping the benefits for your body, feel good about where it was sourced, and support a social enterprise that fights for a good cause.

The Good Chocolatier was founded in 2014 by Pierre Gruget, originally going by Chocolat Naturel. In 2015, Pierre met Mara Mennicken who took great interest in his chocolate-making processes. When Pierre moved back to France with his family, Mara decided to take over in 2017 due to her interest in social sustainability. “I was studying Community Leadership and Social Change at the time and had just learned about Social Enterprises,” says Mara Mennicken, Owner of The Good Chocolatier, “It was like a light bulb moment, and I just had to put theory into practice.”

Since 2018, The Good Chocolatier is an employment-based social enterprise that hires neurodiverse adults through PASS (PALS Adult Services Society). Mara’s biggest concern has always been the job market and who does or doesn’t have access to it. During her studies, she investigated marginalization in Vancouver and found that most people have slid into that category because of an inability to find a job, rather than an inability or lack of desire to work. “That was especially true for adults with Autism. Work gives them purpose, a sense of belonging and an admirable sense of pride & confidence,” shares Mara, “For us, it all started with a chocolate-making workshop at the PALS high school for my Leadership classes. One year into the business, we established a partnership with the PASS adult program. I’m lucky to have found such a successful, reliable, and sustainable partnership with them, as it’s not easy to find and keep good employees.” Since the increase in e-commerce and online sales, they have trained and hired new adults for their e-commerce fulfillment. Mara hopes to eventually outgrow the capacity at PASS and engage more local organizations, such as the Pacific Autism Family Centre and Canucks Autism Network, to provide employment and fill the current need.

 

From the get-go, The Good Chocolatier has always avoided cane sugar or any kind of refined sugar. Now all products are made with organic ingredients, fair trade cacao, containing no refined sugar or sugar alcohols, no soy, and no gluten. “I remember my first farmers market, where I tried to sell our Raw Criollo bar to absolutely EVERYONE because it’s so good for your heart, mind, and mood besides being absolutely delicious. It’s only sweetened with dates!” shares Mara.

Mara found out about the physical and mental healing properties of cacao when she started working with Pierre. The more she learned, the more she researched everything about the cacao plant, which only confirmed why she was constantly feeling so great while consuming cacao. “Then came the spiritual and medicinal aspects – that must have been around 2018,” says Mara, “I was invited to a cacao ceremony here in Vancouver and I got curious. Cacao contains antioxidants that promote heart health and longevity so it only made sense that it could be a heart medicine and used in ceremony.”

Today, The Good Chocolatier offers their own in-person Cacao Ceremonies where attendees get to use cacao as a tool to dive deep into meditation. “Cacao has been used in ceremonies for over 3000 years. Both the Aztecs and Mayans believed that cacao had magical, or even divine properties, and used it in their sacred ceremonies as offerings to the Gods,” says Mara, “Cacao ceremonies have only recently gained popularity again and are very different from the ancient rituals, but we try our best to bring as much knowledge and ancient wisdom to make them impactful in our modern lives while honouring its rich history.”

The Good Chocolatier just recently launched their beautifully designed new packaging. Check out their handcrafted products at thegoodchocolatier.com including Mara’s favourite Pistachio & Sea Salt 75%. “It’s partially raw and my happiness-guaranteed breakfast chocolate. It’s a good way to start the day,” says Mara.

You can hear more about Mara’s story in this TEDx Talk here: Building economies that make place for every human gift.

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