TALL, DARK AND handsome – just how I love my chocolate. And my men. Unfortunately though, since becoming vegan, I’ve found it hard to satisfy my cravings. The vegan chocolate blocks I taste-tested my way through on an overload of rom-coms seemed to be overloaded with sugar, making them sickly sweet, or left me with an undesirable aftertaste. I wasn’t pleased.
Fast forward to several weeks ago, and I’m very happy to introduce you to raw and organic chocolate, sweetened with coconut sugar or agave syrup and handmade in Melbourne by Loving Earth. It’s allergy friendly with no dairy or gluten in any of their products, low GI content, Fair Trade, vegan and no cane sugar used.
Loving Earth have an incredible array of products, and I’ve already been seduced by several, such as their Orange & Gubinge Choc Luvju, or their Coconut Mylk Choc Blocks (for those of us that can’t stop at several pieces), but they’re actually just the tip of this raw Willy Wonka wonderland. There’s raw “butters”, cacao goodies, olives, nuts and seeds, and much, much more.
Speaking of which, the crew at LE are incredibly passionate about their Fair Trade products and were more than happy to answer my pernickety questions for Doctor Feelgood.
DF – What’s your name & where are you from?
I’m Sarvesh. I came to Melbourne around nine years ago and instantly fell in love with the place. I am originally from Mumbai, India.
DF – …and about the role you play at Loving Earth and how you came to be there?
I am a part of the Digital Communications team at Loving Earth. My background is quite varied, starting out with biochemistry and botany, moving on to audio engineering and finally settling down in communications. I worked in the e-commerce sector for a while and was dissatisfied with my life and the way the business world worked in general. I was spending all my energy making people spend their money on things they never needed. I didn’t feel like I was benefitting the world in any way and desperately wanted to change that. I had been a loyal customer and fan of Loving Earth for a few years and when I heard there was an opening here, I jumped at it immediately.
DF – Tell us a little (or a lot, because rambling is good for the soul, right?) about LE’s philosophy, and how you try to incorporate it into your own life?
Loving Earth’s mantra is ‘Healthy Sustainable Fair’.
The idea is to be of as much benefit to everyone and everything involved; starting from the indigenous growing communities from around the world, the lands on which the food grows, to the workers and product makers who put in the hard work and finally to the people who consume the product itself, all the while trying to minimise or offset the negative impact these activities may have on the planet.
Recently I was fortunate enough to be a part of one of our overseas projects that involves making organic colours and idols for use in festivals in India. The colours that are used are normally very toxic and end up in the rivers and oceans along with the idols. This endeavor involves making biodegradable idols and organic vegetable colours made by women who cannot otherwise be employed because they have been in prison or infected by HIV. This project was so inspiring, since every aspect of it is of some benefit – it just gives along every step of the way rather than take something away. The land is regenerated by carefully rotating the crops used to make the colours, the women making them can now be independent and take care of themselves which was not easy in the past, and the rivers are not full of toxic chemicals. Everyone wins!
To me, this epitomises Loving Earth’s philosophy. In my personal life, I try to understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions and it is this awareness that guides my decisions. Basically, I try to live my life in a conscious way.
DF – For those of us who are new to scoffing the treats of LE, what are your picks for the top three products to woo them?
My current favourite has to be the new Chocolate Buckinis. My desk always has at least one packet on it. It is so hard to find a healthy chocolaty snack – in fact, I am actually reaching for some right now!
Next one on my list is the kale chips. I am a big kale fan and cannot get enough of it. It is hard to believe that something so nutrient dense can be so yummy!
The Maca powder and Rainbow blend are now an inseparable part of my daily routine. It takes a few weeks of taking them regularly before you really start to realise what a difference they can make to your life. It is as close to feeling invincible as possible.
DF – I’ve just become hopelessly addicted to LE’s Orange and Gubinge Choc Luvju to the point where I may have snarled when a family member asked for a piece. What exactly is ‘Gubinge’ and what are its health benefits?
Gubinge is a fruit like a plum. It is sometimes called the Kakadu plum. We get our Gubinge from the Kimberley region. Gubinge is the highest natural source of vitamin C in the world. Since it’s a whole food, the nutrients in Gubinge powder are more readily available to your body as compared to a vitamin C pill. The best part is that it is sustainably harvested in the wild and not cultivated. The NyulNyul people are bringing back the traditional ways of taking care of the land. Also all the profits from Loving Earth’s Gubinge Powder go straight back to the local community.
DF – In your opinion, what sets LE’s products apart in the marketplace?
Even before I worked here, when I looked at a Loving Earth packet, I felt that all possible care has been taken to make sure this product is good for me. Now I know that as much care is taken to make sure the product is good for the growing communities as well.
However, one of the most important features of the products is the people who make them. Every person here from the factory to customer service, actually wants to be here and believe in what they do. It’s not just a job for anyone here but a choice of lifestyle. The production area always has a positive and fun atmosphere and the products resonate with this loving energy.
DF – Got a fave vegan meal recipe we can score off you?
This is what I made for dinner last night and managed to save some leftovers for lunch today. It’s a quinoa, beans and celery dish with an Indian flavor. I never believe in exact proportions so everything is an approximation. Please adjust according to taste.
In a saucepan, boil one large cup of quinoa with two cups of water.
Heat some coconut oil in a large pan or wok. Add some whole peppercorns. Sauté a large red onion (brunoise) and 4-6 cloves of garlic (minced) until golden brown.
Now add 2 – 3 medium diced tomatoes, a generous pinch of turmeric, mild or hot paprika to taste and one heaped tablespoon of ‘garam masala’ (spice blend made with peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves), and salt to taste.
Cook on medium heat for about 10 – 15 minutes until you get a thick saucy consistency (you may add some water to achieve this). Now add a can of kidney beans (if you have time to plan ahead then preferably use dried beans which have been soaked overnight. If you use a can then make sure you rinse them a few times) and add your quinoa. Chop up some celery stalks and throw them in as well. Stir for 5 minutes, check for salt and turn off the heat, making sure the celery remains crunchy. Sprinkle some pumpkin seed on top and dinner is ready!
DF – And lastly, finish this sentence: The world would be a better place if…
We didn’t take ourselves so seriously.
Note: A big thanks to LE’s Cormac Sheehan for allowing me to take a few moments of fellow employee Sarvesh’s precious time.