When Vanessa Barg started making chocolate as part of her holistic health counseling therapy more than two years ago, she didn’t realize that her efforts to replace unhealthy sweets with a healthy alternative would lead to another career.
Word-of-mouth raves prompted retailers in New York City to request her special chocolate bars. It didn’t take long for Barg to design a label, add PayPal to her health counseling Web site and start making chocolate in earnest.
Of course, Berg wasn’t satisfied in just making conventional chocolate. She opted for a raw chocolate formula, one that minimally processes the beans to capture the highest degree of flavors and polyphenols.
Why raw versus conventionally roasted chocolate?
“Well, because raw anything is closer to nature, so it’s less processed - there’s less ‘stuff’ added to it,” Barg says. “Also the neurotransmitters, enzymes and antioxidants are much stronger and at higher levels in raw versus cooked chocolate.”
Made with only 100% raw, organic, vegan ingredients, Gnosis Chocolate bars are produced entirely by hand and carried by more than 100 retail stores, including Whole Foods. Beginning with her first bar sold, Barg has donated 10% of the company’s profits toward the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.
“My vision is to make Gnosis an internationally recognized name that carries a profound message of health, well-being and awareness of environmental and societal conditions, and to shift the marketplace toward shelves filled with only high-integrity products,” she explains.
At present, the company carries a broad range of varieties, which include the following: Simplicity, Fleur de Sel, Cashew Goji Berry, Cool Peppermint, Lemon Berry Rose, Orange Blossom, Pomegranate Acai, Vanilla Hazelnut, Coconut Almond, Super Choc, Almond Fig Spice and Mayan Heat. Two new varieties - Super Counselor Bar and Blackberry Mint - will debut next year.
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a dancer, singer and pediatrician! So now I dance through chocolate, sing through running my company and heal through the ingredients in my bars, the companies I support and the education I pass along! Any and all professions can be expressed through starting a chocolate company …
Name one or some of your favorite movies.
“Baraka,” “The Constant Gardener,” “Forrest Gump” and “The Future of Food.”
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
Travelling to source and learn more about Theobroma cacao and spending a lot of time in the water …
What book are you currently reading?
“Clean” by Dr. Alejandro Junger and “The Carrot Principle: How Great Managers Use Employee Recognition” by Adam Gostick and Chester Elton.
Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
Brad Pitt. No, just joking! Gandhi - because if you are going to spend your last days on a deserted island, it would be good to learn from the master how to meditate and fast with purpose, peace and joy.
What’s your pet peeve?
A society that doesn’t do its best to motivate and support the highest potential of its people.
I’d give anything to meet:
A few names come to mind (my grandmother Sylvia Katz being one of them), but to say that I’d give anything to meet someone is risking a lot - what if they asked me to give up everything? I love my life and the people in it and wouldn’t give them up to meet anyone. I’d rather learn about and embody their great qualities!
The best piece of advice that I’ve gotten:
“Listen to your intuition and work hard.” This is the boiled down version of all the best advice I’ve ever gotten.
What excites you most about your job?
“When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,” and every day is filled with excitement.