New Producer Profile: Clean Conscience Chocolate
“Our chocolate is not candy,” explains Steve Kennedy, “It’s real food.” Not many chocolatiers can make that claim, but Steve and his wife Mary have a valid argument.
Clean Conscience Chocolate is a small artisan chocolate company in Gordonsville, Virginia, not far from Charlottesville. Every piece is made by hand, and the term “small-batch” really fits their process. Mary has been a professional chocolatier for more than fourteen years. The company is nearly 2 ½ years old and was created when she and Steve decided to focus on making healthy snacks that aligned with their lifestyle.
They focused their first year on developing and perfecting their recipes and methods to make their chocolate snacks absolutely the best they could offer. They also worked to make sure that their products reflected their personal commitment to being both clean and green. (Yes--all of their packaging, including their labels, is actually fully compostable!)
When the pandemic hit and social distancing drove people into their homes to stay safe, sales began to drop precipitously. Because most of their business was wholesale they’ve had to rethink their marketing and distribution plan. Like all small businesses in the local food economy, they had to pivot. That’s why their chocolate made it to our pages more quickly than anticipated.
Steve and Mary are scrupulous about their craft. They use only 100% natural ingredients. The chocolates are vegan, non-GMO, paleo-friendly, dairy/gluten/soy-free, and don’t contain any refined sugar or preservatives. “It’s clean eating,” says Steve, “and we’re proud of that. In fact, that’s why we chose our name. You can really feel great about enjoying our chocolates. It’s really good for you, and it’s filling. In fact, it’s my lunch almost every day!”
All of the chocolate is single-origin and comes from a grower in Ecuador. “It comes from the only certified biodynamic chocolate source in the world,” says Steve, “so it’s a step above organic and fair trade in that they have only sustainable, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly practices in their entire supply chain. The chocolate is actually raw so it has more nutrients than traditional chocolate We don’t add any fillers, so it’s also good for people who have food sensitivities. We use raw organic cane sugar and maple syrup as a sweetener for the fillings, and so little of it that some diabetics consider us diabetic friendly.”
But it’s the delicate floral flavor of the chocolate, which is naturally dried by the sun rather than roasted, that makes their products distinctive.
Their peppermint patties were an early bestseller and are particularly popular with women, followed by their peanut butter cups, almond butter cups, and coconut joys. According to Steve, each of their creations has a following, and all are now running neck-and-neck in popularity. They even offer a sipping chocolate, perfect for the few nippy days left in spring.
This is chocolate that has been carefully researched, then with great care and love, incorporated into the recipes. It’s also very thoughtfully presented.
“We were also really intentional about the packaging,” Steve notes, “as we wanted to make sure that we stayed completely in line with our goal of creating a guilt-free food. We go a bit against the grain on presentation. You won’t see fancy, eye-catching packaging. Instead, we keep it simple and--literally--transparent. And our packaging is compostable, too.”
Stay safe, stay well, and eat your chocolate. With a clean conscience, of course!
You can follow Clean Conscience Chocolate on Facebook: @cleanconsciencechocolate. They're also on Etsy.
To purchase these and other great local food items on our non-profit online farmers market, Fall Line Farms & Local Roots, click here.