Meet Vitaliano Saravia.  How do I know him?  He grew the cocoa beans in my chocolate bar.  At first glance, he seemed a little grouchy, but after trying the chocolate, I know he had my best interests at heart.
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Pleased to Meet You:  Vitaliano Saravia

Pleased to Meet You: Vitaliano Saravia

Our introduction came by way of the Country of Origin Label law (COOL).  Congress passed it last year in the wake of several public food scares, including e-coli outbreaks.  It requires food producers to be able to trace the sources of their products.  (There are loopholes, but let’s go with the basic premise for now.)

Some companies, like Askinosie Chocolate of Springfield, Missouri, know to use this rule to their advantage.  As my friend Alex Mandl says, consumers are “over processed and over marketed.”  So many messages come our way, who knows what to believe?  The origin of our food often seems remote and suspect.  Add in the rough news about our usual means — pesticides and Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFO’s), for example — and we demand to know more about what we’re eating.  Smart companies are starting to communicate the transparent path to their growers and process.

With an Askinosie chocolate bar, there’s a Choc-o-lot Number.  In this case, it’s #060909, and when I go to, I learn the step-by-step stages of how this chocolate bar came into being.  It began when they shipped Vitaliano’s beans to the factory in December 2008 and ended when the bar was shipped out on June 10th, 2009.  I bought it at Rubiner’s Cheesemongers in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on October 3rd.

Now I’m tempted to get that update to Vitaliano.  Perhaps he’ll see this post.