It started with a dream.
Not just any dream – this was a life-changer: The Mayan God of Cacao visited Scott Fry one night. When he woke the next morning, he knew that chocolate was going to be his life. This divine visit is just one piece of the peculiar puzzle in Scott’s unusual path to success. And one of the most unorthodox back stories we’ve ever heard.
A childhood without chocolate
As the CEO of the popular plant-based chocolate company Loving Earth, you’d expect Scott to be mad about eating the stuff. Although he is now, that’s not how it began.
Scott grew up in the 70s and 80s with a “crazy health fanatic for a mother” and a childhood that was far from conventional.
“Before I discovered the word of cacao, I never really ate chocolate, our lives were fairly austere. But I grew up with all kinds of weird things going on, like wheat grass growing in front of the TV… not to eat, mind you, that batch was in the kitchen. Nope, this stuff was there to ‘absorb’ the TV’s radiation.”
Sunday salt water cleanses every three months were also part of Scott’s routine.
“Crazy was pretty much normalised. It’s just an attitude that seems to have become ingrained in me.”
Growing up in far north Queensland, Scott had several friends from the local indigenous community. He didn’t know it at the time, but these relationships would go onto influence his work later in life.
Sadhu yogi and an all-fruit diet
Fast forward a few years, Scott has a uni degree under his belt – and set his sights on an overseas adventure.
But unlike most young Aussies who jet away to London or Berlin, Fry headed to India.
“I lived in rural India for quite a while in my 20s, doing the sadhu yogic thing. I was a bit of a purist and lived on an all-fruit diet for a couple of years.”
While living there, Scott worked with the local Adivasi people on an organic farming project.
“I saw how local farmers were selling their topsoil to brickmakers to make ends meet because their farms weren’t sustaining them. Agriculture was no longer a viable source of income for them. It was heartbreaking to watch.”
Then Scott receives a message from above
After India, Scott flew to the other side of the globe to live in Mexico.
“I ended up working on a coffee project with a large Mayan cooperative. One of the guys running it lived on a cacao farm. Cacao was totally his passion, and that’s where I caught the cacao bug.”
Three years later, Scott returned to Australian soil. Unsure about what to do next – and with a baby on the way – he found clarity… through a dream.
“I had a dream,” Scott says, “Quetzalcoatl, one of the Mayan deities came to me. Quetzalcoatl is the god in Mayan mythology who brought the cacao down from the heavens to earth.”
Although Quetzalcoatl didn’t actually say anything, “Instead, it was like some kind of blessing or like a sense of welcome. It was as if he said: ‘here’s the cacao, go and do something with it.’ That dream was the new beginning. I’ve become very intimate with cacao and worked with it a lot over the years. Its very much a part of what I do. I’m very deep down the rabbit hole. Now, it’s like I’ve got cacao in my blood.”
It all started with two
After Scott’s divine visit from the Mayan God of Cacao, he started making chocolate bars in a little bakery with Loving Earth co-owner and mother of their two children, Martha.
Bootstrapping their operations, they did everything themselves, wrapping each bar in their home kitchen at night and selling the chocolate at local markets.
But it didn’t take long for Loving Earth to grow. More and more people fell in love with their unique chocolate bars and values. They wanted to support the Loving Earth mission of empowering indigenous communities, promoting regenerative farming and protecting the Amazon.
Pretty soon, Loving Earth employed its first staff member and moved production to a factory.
True to their values – from day one
Since Loving Earth first opened its doors, the company has stayed true to its mission. A central part of this is honouring the Indigenous Ashaninka community who grow the main ingredient in their chocolate – cacao – deep in the Amazon jungle.
“The project with the Ashaninka is amazing. It makes me feel very privileged to play the role that I do. The Ashaninka is a community in Peru that has been extremely traumatised over the years – just like the aboriginal community we work with up in the Kimberley,” Scott says.
The Ashaninka people live in an area that is the biggest coca growing region in the world, coca is the raw material for cocaine. They’ve been sandwiched between the government, paramilitary forces and the narcos (drug cartel).
As Scott explains, “There’s a lot of trauma there and they’ve pretty much been forgotten.”
But after seven years toiling the region, Loving Earth found a direct route to the Ashaninka that cuts out the middlemen. This is thanks to The Rainforest Foundation from the UK, a not-for-profit working with Indigenous communities to establish basic land rights.
This is only the beginning of the Loving Earth story. Check back next month for Part 2, where we’ll share some of the incredible obstacles Scott and his team have overcome to become a national success.