Communal Uprising Chocolate, Shari Flam
Prescott Farmers Market: Tell us about who you are and where you’re from. Have you always lived in Arizona?
Shari Flam: I’ve been in Sedona for 24 years, and before that I was in California. I feel like I was drawn to Sedona for a reason – to find out to help in the world and to grow personally.
PFM: What do you sell at your booth?
SF: Everything I make is based in the raw whole cacao bean. It’s taking chocolate back to its source – I like to call it the “heart of chocolate.” Most people in the US haven’t seen the raw cacao bean. One of my favorite moments is when people come to my booth and I tell them, “This is chocolate before you make a bar out of it” – they love it! It’s an amazing thing to witness. I’ve noticed that more and more people are gaining awareness of cacao. I especially love introducing children to the raw bean.
It’s important for me to not have white sugar in my products. My feeling is that white sugar has an addictive nature for us. It costs our bodies to eat it – rather than feeding or supplementing our bodies. It’s really de-stabilizing for our body to have sugar crashes. White sugar makes it hard to keep control of your consumption without those cravings and that addictive cycle. I regard chocolate not as a treat, not as adessert – but as a food. When you add only “good things” to cacao, your heart can rest somewhere. We deserve goodness in our bodies and our foods, but we’ve been trained to live on this crazy American diet.
PFM: How long have you had your business?
SF: I will be a year old on February 9! This all started when I made the whole cacao treats. I had all of these ingredients in my house; I threw it together for myself. I shared with friends, and they told me, “You HAVE to sell this!” I sell at farmers markets in Flagstaff and Prescott, and right now I’m selling in 10 stores:
- Interdependence Natural Foods, Sedona: they have every single one of my products
- The Chai Spot, Sedona
- Indian Gardens Cafe, Sedona
- Flagstaff CSA & Local Market, Flagstaff
- Steep Tea, Flagstaff
- Aspen Sports, Flagstaff
- Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters, Flagstaff
- Little Moo’s Gourmet Market, Cottonwood
- Happy Healthy High Horny Herbs, Tempe
- One Root Tea & Herbothecary, Prescott
I’m so grateful to these storefronts and their sweet owners; I consider selling with them a relationship with them. Every single one of them are darling people, with high-quality products.
PFM: I’ve always meant to ask you about the name of your booth. Why “Communal Uprising Chocolate”?
SF: The name came to me in a yoga class – I think I said it – and it just stuck. This is before the last presidential election – I realized that nobody’s going to do anything for us. If we want to stay on this planet, we have to make changes ourselves. We never do anything alone – even if you think you are doing it alone, you aren’t. We have to rise up together and fix our world.
This leads into the importance of the beans – cacao is a ceremonial food in South America. I really believe that ingesting this cacao can open and heal our hearts. If we are healthy and feeling good – not in survival mode, like the typical American diet – we can have a chance to look around see that plastic, global warming, unequal distribution of wealth…all of that has to go. If this food helps open our hearts, we can share that love with our fellow humans and make changes together.
PFM: Tell us about how you get ready for the market.
SF: Well, it can take me a little more than 1 full workday – an 8 to 10 hour shift – to get ready for market. I like to split it up into two different work days, because I want to find joy and pleasure in this work. I work under the Arizona Cottage Law, meaning that I work in my home kitchen. I really love preparing these products and the meditation of making chocolate.
PFM: How would you explain raw cacao beans to someone who doesn’t know about them?
SF: This is a very common question. It’s worth knowing that the fair-trade cacao beans are sourced in Sedona from a man who goes to Ecuador himself. He purchases them from a co-op that unites 800 indigenous families who operate fourth-generation cacao plantations. This is the only company in the world that doesn’t ferment their cacao beans. Fermentation is great, but these beans are very very close to the source and what they’re like on the trees. They are hand-washed and dried under banana leaves. After I had hours of conversation with one of the owners, I knew that they were the best. When you heat cacao beans to make a bar of chocolate, you lose a majority of antioxidants and digestive enzymes. The beans can be bitter, which is why I use things like stevia, honey, and maple syrup to sweeten them up.
PFM: What are your plans for the future?
SF: That’s a tough question for me. I do everything by blindness of my eyes and listening to my heart. I am so grateful to be doing what I’m doing. I do want to grow and expand the business, but I don’t know for sure how I want to do that. I have my eyes set on a few more stores. This project is all bigger than me. I’m just as excited to watch it unfold as everyone else. I feel that the farmers market has this great flow of people who want to help. I am completely willing to do what my heart asks me to do and am so grateful to be at the market.
Communal Uprising Chocolate sells at the Prescott market every Saturday and once a month at the Prescott Valley market. Connect with Shari on Facebook HERE.