IN CONVERSATION: MARTHA BUTLER OF LOVING EARTH CHOCOLATE
When we collaborated with Loving Earth chocolate for the launch of our latest collection, we knew we wanted to learn more about this kindred spirit - a Melbourne vegan brand with a focus on ethical sourcing + environmental responsibility. We chatted to co founder Martha Butler about the origins of Loving Earth, how they source their ingredients + how they aim to deliver joy in all they do.
What inspired the beginnings of Loving Earth?
My co-founder and I were travelling around the world, living in India and Central America when the idea was first born. The inspiration came from experiencing the wisdom of indigenous land care and culture, and how under threat it was. Loving Earth was conceived as a way to help these communities preserve their knowledge and amplify their very real value.
Where do you source your ingredients from?
Our hero ingredient, the beautiful unroasted cacao, comes from various grower cooperatives in Peru. We work particularly closely with the Ashaninka community at the headwaters of the Amazon River. This is where the cacao plant originated and the community there still harvest their shade grown crop from underneath the forest canopy, just like they have been doing for generations. If it sounds magical that’s cos it is! My co-founder, Scott Fry, has harvested with the community and was blown away by the love running through the entire thing.
Our coconut sugar, probably our second most important ingredient, comes from villages in Indonesia. This is also a traditional crop that the villagers grow, tapping the palm sap from the tree and processing it into sugar in their homes.
In a similar vein to Sans Beast, we see a need to connect people to the sources behind the products they buy. We want to bridge the gap by supporting small scale growers. We’re not completely where we want to be yet but it’s a continual goal we’re striving for.
Loving Earth is made in Melbourne which we love, what prompted the local manufacturing journey + have there been any challenges versus making offshore
We have always made our chocolate right from the bean, starting first in the kitchen of our Coburg rental house and ending up in our current purpose built chocolate factory in Scoresby. We love being chocolatiers and it’s never occurred to us to do it any other way!
This does make it significantly more labour intensive than brands that outsource their chocolate making but it’s what we love. And it’s what makes Loving Earth chocolate unique and full of flavour.
What is different about Loving Earth?
Loving Earth was the OG raw vegan chocolate brand in Australia. That means we’ve built a deep knowledge of our craft over time and serious respect for our ingredients, especially the mighty cacao. We’ve ridden the wave as vegan chocolate emerged from the purely functional space into the spotlight as a legitimate (delicious!) fine food.
Our legacy of authentic, ethical sourcing and compostable packaging is definitely up there for uniqueness…and now we’ve decided it’s time to have some fun. We’re bringing the joy into the plant-based space and allowing ourselves to play, cos it is chocolate after all!
Who is the team behind your chocolate creations?
We’re fortunate to have a very switched-on Danish food technologist called Emil Kroll as well as Thibault Fregoni, our inspirational French chocolatier, formerly the founder of classic Melbourne chocolate brand Monsieur Truffe. They are a formidable duo.
What is your philosophy + how does this impact the way you do/run your business?
We deliver joy in as many ways as we can...primarily through our products and our storytelling but really, through all the things we do.
And we continually work to support the regeneration of our home planet. It’s in our DNA. That includes not only our environment and communities but also our own selves.
Thank you Martha for talking with us - you can check out Loving Earth's delicious range of chocolate here, or for a limited time receive one of their delicious 45s when you visit the Sans Beast Studio.
XO, Studio Sans Beast