I was at the Summer Fancy Food Show over the past few days and I spent a few moments asking the founder of a chocolate brand that labels itself paleo how chocolate could be considered paleo. It's a processed food and it very often contains some sort of sweetener. The original uses for cacao were not as a food or beverage as we know it today, but as a treat: the pulp surrounding the seeds is very sweet and quickly ferments into alcohol. How, I wanted to know, could chocolate (as we know it today) be considered paleo?
The answers I got were unsatisfying to me and included phrases like “paleo-friendly sweeteners” (maple syrup and coconut palm which both require significant water reduction (as does cane syrup)). But what topped the interview was the statement, “It all depends on how you look at it ...” Which turns out to be true.
According to the Paleo Foundation:
In loose terms, the Paleo Diet is a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans before the advent of agriculture. These foods included meat and seafood, nuts and seeds, roots and tubers, and fruits and berries. The diet of our ancient Paleolithic ancestors presumably excluded dairy, grains, and highly refined foods. Unfortunately, the food landscape has changed significantly in the past 10,000 years, which makes defining items that fall into 21st Century Paleo Diet a bit… tricky. Because the diet is theoretical in nature and up for wide interpretation, no one single ‘Paleo Diet’ definition exists, and disagreements over specific food items and processing among the Paleo Community is common. [All emphases added.]
So – unfortunately – the answer is, actually, whether something is paleo or not is open to interpretation and it depends on how you look at it. IMO, there is no way chocolate should be considered to be paleo. Cocoa nibs, maybe ... it all depends on whether or not you would consider them to be “highly processed.” Some might, and some might not.
What are your thoughts? Is chocolate paleo? Is it important? Should we care?