The modern US food system is crushing craftsmanship, sustainability, biodiversity and economic justice.
For years, I have known Caputo’s mission in a broad, eternal sense: “Fight to preserve the food traditions of our ancestors.” However, with the untimely death of my best friend, mentor, and hero, Tony Caputo (aka my dad), it sunk in that our time on Earth is so very limited. I realized we need a way to ensure we have tangible victories while we pursue what is sure to be an eternal fight – enter the Caputo’s Preservation Program (CPP).
As part of Caputo’s Preservation Program we are proud to announce a partnership between Caputo’s Market & Deli, Hacienda Tranquilidad (Baures, Bolivia), and Ritual Chocolate (Heber, Utah). Namely, a chocolate bar made from rare wild cacao.
The Caputo’s Wild Tranquilidad bar started almost a decade ago when Caputo’s donated money on behalf of an agronomist who had discovered something very special. The tests we sponsored provided a USDA Genetic Profile proving Tranquilidad’s samples were a previously undiscovered type of cacao, “Beniano.”
Even before the tests had confirmed it, Tranquilidad’s cacao had become famous being referred to as Cru Sauvage, Cacao Sylvestre, Boliviano, to name a few. The agronomist, Volker Lehmann, bought land in the area and dedicated his life to building a business that would preserve this cacao. Despite the fame and insanely delicious, one of a kind cacao, Tranquilidad has faced bankruptcy, competitors counterfeiting his cacao, fires, drought, floods and more. Long story short, even in the world of fancy chocolate not enough money flows back to the farmer.
Caputo’s has arranged for Ritual to buy Tranquilidad’s genetically pure Beniano and pay top dollar directly to Tranquilidad with no intermediaries. Ritual uses these jewels of the jungle to make chocolate bars to Caputo’s specifications. After countless tests and tweaks to almost every step in the chocolate making process, Ritual Chocolate proves their mastery with one of the best tasting dark chocolate bars of all time. Caputo’s then gives a full dollar to Tranquilidad for every 60g chocolate bar sold. This represents an additional $7.60 per pound of chocolate sold and is many multiples more than a farmer would receive when selling cacao.
Caputo’s believes that Capitalism can actually be a wonderful system for positive change when all stakeholders in the supply chain share equally in the rewards. We know our community of food lovers will vote with their purchases and join us in blazing a trail to a food system that preserves biodiversity and sustainable agriculture.
Listen to Volker take James Beard award winning author and journalist Rowan Jacobsen into the rainforest, and learn about our mission around wild cacao (including Caputo’s Wild Juruá bar by Luisa Abram) in the iHeart Radio podcast OBSESSIONS: Wild Chocolate!