The Chocolate Cult: Eco Friendly Plates Save Cacao

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eco Friendly Plates Save Cacao

For a second week in a row, our Saturday Sacrament is not about chocolate itself but about other kitchen items that can be used with chocolate.  Our focus today is on a new type of disposable plate that you might chose to use for picnics or for big gatherings when using washable dishes seems overwhelming.  Remember every piece of trash we throw away could limit the land that can be used for cacao in the future.  While our human population is expanding, the size of the planet is not.  In fact, we seem to be damaging the land over and over so that the land we could use for all forms of agriculture might be decreasing as well.  Let's face it, cacao versus most other food plants, our Sacred Substance may lose out.

These palm leaf plates come in 10 different shapes but Max Foods sent your Chocolate Priestess two shapes.  The large palm leaf square measure about 9 inches across with a usable bottom of 6.5 inches across.  As you can see in this photograph, this large square plate compares very well with an average dinner plate in terms of the amount of food it will hold, in this case a very simple meal for my family.

The large plates' sides slope down for 1.75 inches making it capable of holding a bit of sauce.  However, any liquid or sticky substance will get into the groves of these plates so if you are used to getting every last big of sauce or ketchup or whatever off your plate, that will not work with these particular plates.  I think these plates work best for fairly dry and finger foods.

The plates are quite stable.  Here we see a rectangular one that measures 9.25 by 6.25 with a usable base of 7 by 3.75 inches.  The sides slope down 1.5 inches so again you have a bit of room for anything that might be liquid, in this case ice cream melting.  The thickness of the plates held the cold of the ice cream very well and these two scoops melted far more slowly than they would have in one of my bowls or plates that I use daily.

The plates have a bit of a vinegar scent when I first opened up the box but that went away in a few days of them setting in my cabinets.  The scent did not transfer to any of the food I used, not even pizza though the oils from it did sink a bit into the plates.  Here you see another good use for the rectangular plates as they hold one slice of pizza and some breadsticks and sauce, note I kept the sauce in its plastic cup so I wouldn't lose any of it.  But the oils from the pizza I was very fine with the plate soaking up because then a touch less went into me.

Reheating things in the microwave warped the plates a bit as I hope you can see in this photo.  While paper plates wouldn't warp, they'd soak up far too much liquid and leave potential stains in the microwave or on your table or lap unless you use multiple plates.  Cheap plastic plates would also warp and I've even seen them melt in the microwave.

Just because I could, I decided to see how easily these plates caught on fire.  Why?  Well, I could see folks using these around camp fires and since I don't composite and I can't test that, I thought this might be a fun test to try for you all. Finally how often do I get to set things on fire for you all, Sisters and Brothers?  For safety reasons, I did this test outside with another person, the White Chocolate Acolyte to be precise, taking the photos for me, and with the water hose turned on to put things out quickly.  Remember: Be very careful with fire!  I need not have worried so much.  It didn't catch on fire.  I applied the flame to it for about a minute and no catching what so ever.  It didn't catch on the inside as you see in the photo nor on the edges.  That's more than what you can say for paper plates or plastic ones!

Normally we use stonewear plates that we rewash over and over for our big parties.  We got large dinner plates and huge bowls over a decade ago and are still using them.  These palm plates might be washable but given their organic nature and the grooves in them, I wouldn't use them for different people and that could prove to be a hassle.  These palm leaf plates comes in a range of color because palm leaves are this way.  The prices vary from 78¢ a plate to $1.34 per plate; the largest the quantity, the lower the price.  For a fancier party that you still don't want to pull out the china for, these are more upscale looking than paper or plastic plates.

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