What Natural Food and Soma Teach Us About Ethical Living

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.

– Brillat-Savarin

 

And so we come to our final segment in this series on finding out the delicious truth about raw chocolate. If you missed the first two segments, we’ve previously been speaking with raw chocolatier Anna Suvorova about what makes raw chocolate so alluring — not only to our taste buds, but to our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Anna has shared with us her tips for purchasing raw chocolate, along with the main health benefits that we can reap from this tasty superfood. As one commenter astutely mentioned, talking about raw chocolate also brings up a lot of ethical questions about what goes on regarding the production side with large corporations. When we purchase raw cacao beans from a trustworthy source — through recommendations, research, and asking questions — one significant advantage is that we can feel secure in knowing that the beans are being produced ethically.

Making our own raw chocolate enables us to forgo unhealthy white sugar in favor of natural flavor-enhancers, like goji berries, coconut milk, and nuts. Photo courtesy of Anna Suvorova.

On this important note, there has been a recent news-piece circulating around yet another Nestle scandal. As one of my friends passionately put it, “How can they do something like this again? Where are the regulations or international watchdogs?” That Nestle has continued to make unethical choices in the name of keeping its shareholders happy is unacceptable. At the same time, the shareholders are also accountable, as they are seemingly solely concerned with the financial outcome of Nestle’s actions, rather than caring about how the products are made:

In the small Pakistani community of Bhati Dilwan, a former village councilor says children are being sickened by filthy water. Who’s to blame? He says it’s bottled water-maker Nestlé, which dug a deep well that is depriving locals of potable water. “The water is not only very dirty, but the water level sank from 100 to 300 to 400 feet,” Dilwan says.

In light of the current work that Soma is doing to help give countries affected by the water crisis access to clean water, hearing this is incredibly frustrating: the financial power that corporations like Nestle have can often feel omnipotent; they get away with doing what they want because money talks in our capitalist society. One of the answers is choosing ethical, sustainable companies like Soma, who are transparent about their actions, and create positive, ethical products. Or, choosing to purchase our own ingredients like Anna, and making at least some of our food from scratch.

In collaboration with charity: water, Soma’s limited-edition charity: water filter is helping to bring clean water to three Cambodian villages this holiday season. There is huge potential for change when companies align their actions with strong, underlying values — unlike what Nestle is doing.  Image source: www.gq.com.

In view of the fact that every day more children die from drinking dirty water than AIDS, war, traffic accidents, and malaria put together, Maude Barlow, a former UN chief advisor for water issues, states: “When a company like Nestlé comes along and says, Pure Life is the answer, we’re selling you your own ground water while nothing comes out of your faucets anymore, or if it does, it’s undrinkable – that’s more than irresponsible, that’s practically a criminal act.”

Perhaps most disturbing is the immense number of products that Nestle actually owns: to name a few — KitKat, Milo, Nestle coffee (Nescafe, Nespresso, Partner’s Blend), Coffee Mate, Nes-tea, Nesvita, all Nestle ice cream, Yorkie, Areo, as well as L’Oréal, Garnier, Maybelline, Lancôme, and The Body Shop. In addition, they discreetly own Perrier, San Pellegrino, and Vittel.

Nestlé is not the only company to create a huge business with big profit potential by bottling ground water — Danone and Coca-Cola do it too.

Peering behind the opaque curtain that hangs between major corporations and the consumers can be shocking. Realizing what our money is actually helping to support when we buy Nestle products is heartbreaking, and angering — though, it does create an urgent call to action. Another solution that I’m personally committing to is to boycott all Nestle products. This shouldn’t be too difficult, since I don’t use too many in the first place. I encourage everyone to take a look at their list of brands, and think deeply about where your money is going.

 

To me, this is what real food looks like — fresh, natural veggies. While these might have been sprayed with chemicals, they’re still a big step up from a Hershey’s bar.

One can even argue that a lot of their products cannot even be called food: edibles like KitKat chocolate bars, Yorkie, and Coffee Mate are filled with chemicals, some of the most unhealthy substances we can inflict upon our bodies. So, giving up Nestle is more than just saying no to their unethical ways — it is saying yes to nourishing foods that help us feel great, so we can have lots of energy for making real change in the world.

This brings us to what Anna sees as one of the biggest questions we’re currently facing: what do we call food? Simple, yet profound, asking ourselves this question can shed some much needed light on our day-to-day choices, whether at the grocery store, at home, or at restaurants. What does food mean to you? Or, more specifically, what does it mean to eat natural food? I asked Anna for her take on this surprisingly layered topic, as well as her thoughts on the lessons gleaned from her journey with choosing natural food.

We all have different interpretations of what food means. To me, many of the chocolate bars on the market don’t qualify, while home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients are my favorites — especially when eaten outdoors! What do you think?

K: In your opinion, Anna, what does it mean to eat clean, natural food?

A: “Consuming clean and natural food is only possible when we live in harmony with nature, mother Earth and each other. After GMOs were introduced to humanity in 1996, our concept of food has been seriously distorted. What we call food these days is not very good stuff! It is genetically altered, grown with pesticides, sprayed with chemicals, and polished with more chemicals. Our ignorance has led us to eat UFOs — Unidentified Food Objects — and lack vitality and health. To change this, we must change our perception, re-learn what we believe in, and create a harmonious relationship with the Earth. We will all benefit from it.”

Here’s a yummy tip from Anna: “Did you know that soaked cashews and goji berries blended with honey make the most delicious butter?” Pairing this with raw chocolate might actually result in a somewhat heavenly death by chocolate!  Photo courtesy of Anna Suvorova.

K: I love your piece on Elephant Journal on How to Rock Your Life. What pockets of wisdom have you gained during your journey with Raw is Real and raw chocolate?

A: “I  have always been a bit of rebel! I do what I feel is right, not what others are telling me. I learn my ways in life, staying curious and open minded. This attitude led me to have an amazing life: self-healing, yoga, travels, amazing friends and extraordinary experiences, raw chocolate, joy! For me, yoga and Raw Chocolate are super foods for the human Soul.”

Anna notes that “Coffee is just like chocolate — it has been manipulated and misinterpreted…when these amazing food substances are real, clean, organic, and grown according to nature’s laws, they are very potent.” Photo courtesy of Anna Suvorova.

Served with a glass of cold, filtered water, raw chocolate is a luxurious treat that falls deliciously outside the norm of our usual sugar and chemical-filled sweets. Putting in the effort to do our own individual research on food brands, as well as fashionable food trends, is essential for making mindful, life-enhancing choices.

Creating more luxury moments in our everyday routines is another way to add energy to our lives: making homemade recipes from natural ingredients,  munching mindfully on a piece of raw chocolate, or sitting in the garden with a fresh glass of water, slowly sipping in our natural surroundings are all easy ways to increase our sense of connection with the beauty in life. Anything that floats our boats, puts a smile on our faces, and brings a gentle feeling of relief will help us to feel more peaceful both within ourselves and our connection with our world.

 

There are three constants in life… change, choice and principles.

– Stephen Covey