Malie Kai Chocolates
 
You might have noticed that we have recently removed the nutrition information labels from the backs of our boxes.  “Why is that?” you might ask.  Well, since the advent of these labels, twenty-odd years ago, has the overall health of Americans improved any?  I think we all know the answer to this.  By whatever metric you care to use, Americans are less healthy today than before nutrition labels.  This is not to say that these labels have caused this decline, but they don’t seem to be helping.

Whenever I sell chocolate at one of our farmer’s markets, I always get customers that scrutinize the nutrition labels on the backs of our bars.  What are they are looking for?  Some nugget of nutritional rectitude that will confer edibility on the bar?

I’ve come to the conclusion that nutrition labels aren’t meant to educate people and help them make better food choices. They are basically a marketing scam designed to confuse and blind consumers to the truth.  Really, who can make heads or tails of a nutrition label?  Most American have no idea what a gram is – let alone a milligram.  So, if a product has 3 mg of cholesterol per serving, and there are 14 servings in the box, and you’ve eaten a third of the box…what does it mean??  Ah!  On the front of the box it says “30% less fat”  or “20% fewer calories” or maybe “heart-healthy”.  Now that I understand!

Those people that have learned to decipher nutrition labels are also buying into the scam.  They really aren’t seeing the forest for the trees.  They are so caught up in sugar, calories and trans-fat that they are failing to realize that the product they are holding is likely not even real food.   Real food does not come with a nutrition label!  There is no nutrition label on a cabbage or a flounder or a tomato or an egg.

I have a suggestion to vastly simplify nutrition labels - and actually make them useful to people.  Here is my universal nutrition label.  It’s just one sentence:  “Not more than 10% of your diet should consist of products with a nutrition label.”

 
 
I want to share with everyone a new and very powerful diet that I have been working on.  Being the modest fellow that I am, I call it "The Nathan Diet". Now, I was planning on coming out with a book, doing a DVD, infomercials, etc. However, considering the seriousness and urgency of the problem (and considering the entire diet consists of just seven words) I have decided to reveal this amazing diet now.

Please get a pencil and paper. I'll wait....

OK, here it is:

"Don't eat ANYTHING advertised on national television."

If you follow this diet, I promise you will lose weight, become healthier, happier and live longer.

Why avoid "food" advertised on national television?  Because all of these products are, necessarily, mass-produced, have long shelf-lives, and are cosmetically perfect.  These are all things that militate against freshness, wholesomeness and naturalness.  Let TV ads be your guide in what NOT to eat.
 
 
I routinely get asked why we don't put cacao percentages on our chocolate bar boxes.  To better answer this question I have prepared a comprehensive FAQ on cacao percentages.  I hope this helps.

Q.  Why don't you list cacao percentages on your chocolate boxes?

A.  Why do you ask?

Q.  I only eat chocolate that is at least 70% cacao.

A.  What if you ate chocolate that was 35% cacao, but you at twice as much?

Q.  No!  My doctor says I should only each chocolate that is at least 70% cacao.

A.  Isn't that the same doctor that told you to eat margarine, not butter?

Q.  Umm, yes.

A.  And you still follow his advice?

Q.  You mean, I can eat any chocolate I like??

A.  Bingo!  Eat the chocolate you like (in moderation).

 
 
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Went to visit Seneca Klassen on his farm outside of Haleiwa (Oahu).  This farm is truly a labor of love.  Seneca, almost single-handedly, has cleared and planted several acres of cacao.  His trees are starting to produce pods, and he should be making commercial-sized batches of chocolate soon.  Please check out his website:  http://kokachocolate.wordpress.com/

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Tasting some fresh sweet beans.
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The field of dreams.
 
 
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Visited Tom Menezes at his Alae Estate farm outside of Hilo.  We are using his nibs in some of our bars.  Tom is a cacao pioneer in Hawaii and probably one of the most knowledgeable cacao farmers in the state.  He's also an amazing ag scientist.

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Tom intercrops his cacao with banana.
Tom intercrops his cacao with banana.

 
 
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While visiting Sharkey's farm we got to sample some of his fresh cacao juice (made from the pulp of cacao beans).  It's one of the most refreshing juices I've ever tasted - tangy and tart yet sweet.

 
 
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Did a quick trip to the Hamakua side of the Big Island.  Visited Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate (http://www.madrechocolate.com), Tom Sharkey (http://www.konasharkscoffee.com) and Tom Menezes of Hawaiian Crown (http://www.hawaiiancrown.com).

Sharkey is a fascinating fellow - an equal mix of farmer, philosopher, tinkerer and bon vivant.  He has a beautiful small farm (which you can visit) with a variety of crops (including cacao, coffee and vanilla).

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Examining pods for ripeness
 
 
This past Saturday was the final night of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. The event, Mauka to Makai, focused on the farm-to-table movement, emphasizing the use of fresh, locally grown ingredients.

Prominent local chefs included Ed Kenney of Town, Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Jeffery Vigilla, and Roy Yamaguchi.  

"Nonstop Honolulu" food writer, Ed Morita, proclaimed Chef Ed Kenney's Shinsato Chorizo with Malie Kai chocolate shavings "by far the best dish of the event".  Read more here.
 
 
We participated in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel's 220 event.  It's a farmer's market and brunch that showcases food grown within 220 miles of Honolulu (basically the main Hawaiian Islands).  If you're not familiar with the Royal Hawaiian, it's one of Hawaii's most famous and luxurious resorts.  The market/brunch was held in the beautiful courtyard of the hotel, and featured wonderful food prepared by Chef Hans Stierli and his staff.  We got to meet a lot of wonderful people - both visitors and locals.  Mahalo to all who came by.  You can read more about the event here.  The next 200 event will be August 21 (10 AM - 2 PM).  Click here for more information.
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Coconut Grove/Royal Hawaiian - site of the 220 farmer's market and brunch.
 
 
Baked a fresh batch of Waialua (North Shore Oahu) beans for our nibby bars.  We used a convection oven that we have never used before, but it worked great.  The aroma was amazing.  Imagine your home (floors, ceilings, walls and furniture) made of freshly baked brownies.  These beans have a beautiful tang to them.  I think our next batch of nibby bars will be something special.