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"It’s not Fair!" We All Should Complain About Chocolate

We talk a lot at Kitchen Stewardship® about shopping locally, but there are a few food items that most of us can’t possibly buy local.

Chocolate, perhaps the most often recommended real foodie dessert (in the form of very dark chocolate like pepperminty freezer fudge), is one of them.

Even though I can’t get chocolate at my Farmer’s Market, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still be asking the question: Where does it come from?

Most chocolate in the world is farmed in Africa and some in South America, far, far from where I live. So far, in fact, that it’s easy to be removed from chocolate’s origins and just be happy to have something without artificial colors and junk that will melt in my mouth after a meal.

Unfortunately, there needs to be more thought put into where chocolate comes from.

There are some subjects I’ve never looked into in my journey as a kitchen steward, and in my journey to real food via a frugal, green avenue.

Fair Trade chocolate is one of those subjects.

Well, I’m looking into it today.

Many commenters chastised me when I admitted I bought non-organic strawberries, because the nutritive benefits of the food are only one side of the coin. On the other is the dignity of the producers.

Chocolate’s Journey from Africa to Your Mouth

More than 30 developing countries produce cocoa, supporting more than 14 million people.1 

Africa’s Ivory Coast exports 43% of the world’s cocoa beans. It’s big business – Americans alone spend $13 billion a year on chocolate.2 (Raise your hand if you participate in that number! I’m raising two. I love chocolate.)

Most cacao bean farms are small, family-owned enterprises. They work from October through June to grow, harvest, and dry cacao beans for the world’s chocolate industry.

Workers use heavy machetes to chop the large cacao pods out of trees, then carry 4-foot-tall bags of cocoa beans, which are sold to major producers like Nestle, Hershey’s, and more.

The Catch: The Face of the Workers

In the cocoa industry, many of the “families” working the farms are made up of children, often boys ages 12-14 but even as young as 7 years old, who have been enslaved by the plantation owners and forced to work without pay.

It’s called “human trafficking,” and of the over 100,000 children laboring to harvest chocolate in the Ivory Coast, it’s estimated that at least 10% (perhaps up to 15%3) are victims.4

“Human trafficking” is a euphemism for kidnapping. Some children are literally nabbed from the streets, while others are sold by their own family members or lured by the promise of a paying job. A plantation owner can buy a child for just 200 Euros, including transport by traffickers.5

But it’s much worse than even acknowledging that this is kidnapping in the worst form – not only are children forcibly or via trickery being taken from their parents, but they’re put into slavery, working long hours in horrid conditions:

  • very long hours, 12+ a day
  • not paid living wage, or at all
  • not fed properly – often only corn mush or bananas
  • poor conditions; locked up at night
  • far too crowded for sleeping
  • some are beaten; very few are able to escape
  • sources: TED case studies, The Dark Side of Chocolate, CNN
Screen Shot 2017 12 22 at 9.16.42 PM e 1513995506711

Screenshot of bags of cacao beans from “The Dark Side of Chocolate

If you’ve ever read a work of historical fiction about American slavery, watched a documentary or read history books and thought, “Thank goodness that’s all been taken care of and doesn’t still happen in our country today,” it’s time to take the blinders off and broaden our horizons to the American habits that are enabling slavery to continue in our global society. It takes more than a village to raise (and protect) a child these days.

Let this sit with you:

Drissa, a recently freed cocoa slave who had never even tasted chocolate, experienced similar circumstances and when asked what he would tell the people who eat chocolate made from slave labor, he replied that the people enjoyed something that he suffered to make, adding: “When people eat chocolate they are eating my flesh.” 6

Do any of the Big Candy Companies Use Fair Trade Chocolate?

In 2001, major international manufacturers and countries signed a protocol saying they won’t use chocolate harvested with child labor. There were plans for better tracking of workers and crackdowns on child labor. However, in the first ten years afterward, hardly anything was accomplished.

It sounds like there’s some headway being made because of petitions and outcry from consumers since 2012, but until a big company like Nestle or Hershey’s publicly states “fair trade” and writes it on their packaging, I don’t think they’ve made a big enough commitment. In this case, a step in the right direction really isn’t good enough.

They are getting there – Hershey says that by 2020, their chocolate will not be a product of child labor/slavery. In the meantime, I don’t want to wait seven years for chocolate. (So far a few of their subsidiaries, Dagoba and Bliss, according to a reader, are fair trade, but I didn’t confirm that note.)

The issue is a bit of a blight on the chocolate industry. For example, “The Story of Chocolate” lists plenty of major companies, describes sustainable chocolate farming, and lauds efforts being made to educate and fairly pay families who farm cocoa…but no mention is made of child labor, slavery, or trafficking.

Fair trade cocoa and chocolate can be found, and VanZeek/Santa Barbara Chocolate is one retailer that requires UTZ Certified Cocoa Beans and prioritizes ethically sourced chocolate.

Santa Barbara fair trade chocolate

I, for one, have a lot to chew on today. I know that my best dark chocolate is ethically sourced. I also know I just bought some indulgence chocolate treats at Costco yesterday that are burning a hole in my conscience after this research. Perhaps “source only fair trade chocolate” is my latest baby step. Many would say “boycott companies who participate in child slavery” is even more necessary.

I’ve tried the Santa Barbara line of their chocolates – divine. They’re the star in this sweet and salty snack mix I call “White Trash”.

Real Food White Trash Recipe

Have you ever heard of White Trash? The snack mix, that is. The last time I ate this concoction was at the beach the day before my wedding.

One thing I’ll never forget is that while my girlfriends and I were having fun in the kitchen that week preparing all the (delicious) junk, we had to run to town not once but TWICE to purchase more white chocolate chips. Both in the microwave and on the stovetop, we’d burned the heck out of the first two attempts at melting chocolate.

My mom finally took over and succeeded without a problem. The secret? Read the directions on the bag and follow them. (I know, I know…we were young!)

That story will live in nostalgic memory forever, but I assumed once I really made the switch to real food that “white trash” would be equally eternally lost to me.

That party dish is a cockamamie mix of Fritos, popcorn, and peanuts covered in white chocolate, if I remember correctly.

White chocolate used to be my ultimate favorite candy before I was a label reader. Once I realized that even fancy stuff from chocolate shops had labels like this one, filled with more sugar than anything else, trans fats, and no actual chocolate, I started raising my standards and usually choose dark chocolate for my indulgences. (Which happen daily, by the way, lest you think I’m some sort of real food superhero!)

When I finally pitched my last stockpile of cheap white chocolate because I just couldn’t handle the hydrogenated oils (and other junk) in the ingredients list, I figured it was the nail in the coffin of all those white-chocolate-covered goodies I used to enjoy.

Once I got my hands on some fair trade white chocolate, though, I was determined to try for a real food version of White Trash. My attempt at remaking the fun dessert (classified as a snack back then) from my college days looked something like this:

white chocolate covered salty sweet snack mix
Print
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Recipe: Sweet-n-Salty Snack Mix

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 c. popped organic popcorn
  • (butter and salt optional on the corn)
  • 1 c. cashews (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!)
  • 1/2 c. any dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries)
  • 1/2 c. Santa Barbara white chocolate chips


ship kroger


Instructions

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or “homemade” double boiler, see below for directions).
  2. Stir frequently.
  3. Mix the popcorn, nuts and dried fruit in a bowl. When the chocolate is completely smooth and creamy, pour it over the mixture and use a spatula to mix it all thoroughly together.
  4. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

* We liked dried cherries or cranberries the best, but raisins, chopped dates, or even apricots would certainly be delish.

* Add 1/4-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips to the mix to make it a truly decadent dessert.

*If you don’t have a double boiler, do what I do and rest a smaller pot inside a larger pot. Put enough water in the larger pot so that it touches the smaller pot. This will ensure even heating of the chocolate in the smaller pot and no scalding and burnt chocolate and tears from the cook.

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white chocolate covered trail mix


After giving you the post about the frightening increase in obesity in America, why am I even talking about sweets? One way of looking at the chocolate issue: if you prioritize fair trade chocolate over cheap junk, you have to have self-discipline on the amount you eat, since it costs a gajillion more dollars than a Hershey bar. But it’s a gajillion dollars to protect kids from slavery, which is money well spent – and an incentive not to overeat junk.

What’s your chocolate philosophy?

Share with friends who are in the dark about their dark chocolate!

More information…

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from which I will earn a commission. See my full disclosure statement here.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

49 thoughts on “"It’s not Fair!" We All Should Complain About Chocolate”

  1. I bought this raw cocoa paste product from a brand very, very hard to find it seems…only seen so far in a single small local organic food shop here in Canada.

    The brand is weirdly named ” Giddy Yo Yo” and has ‘bridgitte and team’ atop the brand name, and they sell cocoa butter and even some super high quality vanilla stuff I think, it is all super grade it sounds but it is also very pricey.

    my cocoa paste is from ‘Wild Ecuadorian Heirloom Cocoa” and has a lot of certifications including “Beyond fair trade”, a first time I ever heard of this. Should go look it up! Apparently it is a Canadian company so that may explain why it’s a hard find, even here oddly.

    Anyway, it seems they claim to have the best of the best, it is raw and from a single source of matured cocoa beans.

  2. Thank you for a timely reminder of why I need to go back to only buying fair trade chocolate instead of caving in to the cheap junk! I didn’t even know about the child labor until I read this, that is horrible! Shared on FB.

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  6. charissa pacheco

    I toured the Theo Chocolate factory while in Seattle last week. They are organic, fair trade and non-GMO… and have some CRAZY flavors. My husband LOVES their coconut curry dark chocolate while my favorite is coffee dark chocolate. They also do a fig, fennel and almond dark chocolate.
    https://www.theochocolate.com/our-product-info
    We already gave up Godiva due to the GMOs. While I will probably finish off the cacao powder and other chocolate products I have already bought, I won’t be buying any more that is not fair trade.

  7. Good Grief! I had NO idea! I don’t know if I can look at chocolate the same again…and now coffee as well…must do the research and do the right thing. Thank you for bringing this up and helping us to be conscientious consumers.

  8. Kresha @ Nourishing Joy

    Thanks, Katie! An excellent article, as usual. 🙂

    Just to add to your list of recommended chocolates: Theo Chocolate is a fabulous fair trade, all-organic chocolate company that’s just starting to grow great gonzos. They’re in Whole Foods all across the country, plus whatever health food stores choose to carry them. https://www.theochocolate.com/

    1. Kresha @ Nourishing Joy

      I forgot to mention – Theo is also soy-free, for those who were looking for soy-free bars in the above comments.

  9. I use mostly chips for cooking so I use this from Azure Standard:

    ” Sunspire Semi-Sweet Organic Chocolate Chips “Pure Chocolate for Conscious Kitchens.” All natural.

    Darkly delicious and certified organic, these chocolate chips bring nature’s best to your kitchen. In keeping with our mission to inspire good health through great treats, we make these irresistible morsels with chocolate that is grown, harvested and produced using fair labor practices and no harmful chemicals or pesticides. May all your baking be Sunspired!

    Caring for Cocoa Communities: We provide hands-on support to our cocoa growers by donating tools and resources to improve their harvests. When you buy Sunspire, you’re directly contributing to the well-being of cocoa farmers and their communities.”

    Better then most I think!

  10. Thank you for this. I have been bugging the Christian real-food bloggers that I follow about this for years, and you are the first one to address it! This is such a heart issue for me. I just cannot support the idea of women and children in slavery just so I can have some chocolate or coffee!

  11. Elizabeth Prince

    Thank you SO much for this.

    I knew more or less the usual about Africa, about the truly awful conditions children are subjected to. I knew about kidnapping and enslavement, but only with respect to diamonds.

    But CHOCOLATE!

    I will read up on this and abstain. Does this mean Lent everlasting? Just yesterday, I pulled in to my awesome friend Jill’s new bakery. She is an unbelievably talented pastry chef, and such a hard worker. Putting this together in rural Maine was no no small feat. Every delicacy you could ever want was there for the taking. And so I took. Specifically, I took a massive dark CHOCOLATE cupcake with white buttercream frosting. To. Die. For. (There actually are lots of artisan chocolates made on remote islands and literally brought in by sail.)

    I’ll ask, nicely, where the chocolate comes from. Sigh. But maybe there’s an upside. Deeply moral people have yet another opportunity to do the right thing and show the rest of us what the right thing is right now.

    I wonder what the Church might be able to do. We have a HUGE presence in Africa. This is an issue that everyone on the Catholic see-saw can agree: protection of human dignity is the first article of Church teaching. Actually, I’m sure the Church is very active in the fight for human rights on the continent. The nuns, the Jesuits, the Maryknoll priests who toil away, saving lives doing so, are quiet about their ministry, one that which can involve martyrdom).

    Food for thought, but NOT chocolate!

    Thanks again.

    1. Pope Francis said recently that it’s not enough to pray for the poor, we have to make a stand against injustice. I hope more Catholics listen to that message. There are a BILLION Catholics in the world, we ought to make more of a difference! Add that to other Christians and if everyone were actually doing what Christ would, the world would not look the same.

  12. like nance mentioned, costco’s chocolate chips are fair trade. that’s all i buy now. this world is full of injustices. i would go crazy thinking about it all. i finally decided that i couldn’t possibly change everything, but i could take a stand on something. my something is chocolate. if everyone took a stand on one thing, maybe there would be enough ones to actually bring about change. thanks for your post.

  13. After reading about the horrors that soy can have on your health, I now only buy Enjoy Life Chocolate. I hate that it is not fair trade, but it is the only chocolate I can find at my local health food store that does not contain soy. Even the organic ones contain soy.

  14. Costco’s chocolate chip bag states that Kirkland chocolate is ethically sourced. But this whole article brings up the supply chains of a myriad number of imported products. Like garments made in Bangladesh for 18 cents per hour labor, and leather workers there using toxic chemicals without protection or knowledge.

    People of faith need to care about workers, to acknowledge in Grace not only the hands that prepared a meal, but those who grew it, too.

    1. Nance,
      I’ve noticed that with pleasure! But they didn’t make the list I linked to; not sure why.

      I love this:
      “People of faith need to care about workers, to acknowledge in Grace not only the hands that prepared a meal, but those who grew it, too”

      Thanks, Katie

    2. The garment industry is so exploitative, and often hard to untangle, that for the present I buy used clothes only. I feel if someone is going through all that work to make jeans, I owe it to them to wear those jeans right out instead of buying new and discarding. It’s a matter of respect for the worker and for the environmental cost.

      Of course there are ethically produced clothes … but let’s be real, I can’t afford them.

  15. It’s not fair to try to push American or Western standards of living, ‘equality’ or ‘fairness’ on other countries and cultures. It is unbelievable how many people think about ‘righting the wrongs of humanity across the globe’ while they themselves cannot even agree on what is right and make peace in their own home. The ‘fair trade’ movement has done much more harm than good in most countries it has been foisted on, because ‘fair’ is determined by rich Westerners with no regard to the social and cultural landscape of the particular country in question. I don’t agree with your line of thought or synopsis because I have personally seen what this type of ‘fair treatment’ can do, especially when the Westerners begin to back off and leave more of the running of things to the locals. We ought to be encouraging people to be making a difference in their own countries, by their own systems, laws, and cultural distinctives, not trying to push our ‘normal’ on them as if we have it all figured out.

    1. Can you clarify, please? Are you saying that supporting slavery is something that is merely cultural? I would agree that fair trade organizations can be in over their heads trying to foist Western ideals onto people, but what should WE as a consumer do? Not eat chocolate at all? Try to source it as best we can? Not worry about our sources at all?

      1. In part, I am saying that a Westerner’s definition of slavery, poor working conditions, abduction, ect. are far different than the reality of what people in many countries deal with their life long as the best of what they could ever hope for or attain for even their own homes, much less where they work, etc. Westerners seem to be quick to form opinions based on media induced perception, carefully selected biases, and a coddled idealistic world view. Often journalists and such capitalize on the wow factor of how different things are in other places, and a knee jerk, emotional reaction to common place realities ensues, eventually causing more damage than if Westerners just left it alone.
        Yes. WE as consumers can try to source as best as we can, can try to avoid companies who are taking advantage, but also understand it takes people where they are standing up and making things different for real change to happen. It takes away the incentive for nationals to do so if they can just look to a rich company to come in and revolutionize its way, and is perceived by the common man as ‘a slap in the face’ regarding their own abilities and culture.
        As a side note, (not particularly directed at you, Kris, just generally speaking)it is hard to answer these questions because my comment wasn’t intended to argue, but just present the fact there are other views out there. Many times it is hard to judge the tone of a comment that is just in print without voice inflection, body posture, etc. to go off of. So I hesitate because most often it seems a reply is simply another person positioning themselves to pounce, ‘prove’ their already evidently cemented view on the topic, and have the last word. I have no time for that circus. I just want to get to real, untwisted facts. Truth is more important than me appearing to be right on this thread, or any other.

    2. Please give examples or references about how the “fair trade” movement has harmed other countries. Thank you.

      1. No thank you. I referred vaguely to my personal experiences on purpose because I didn’t intend to debate, have sources debunked because someone else doesn’t like them, or even re comment at all on this blog post. If you want proof, you can find it. I am not giving you bullet points to systematically dismiss either.
        If you really are sincerely asking you can take for instance the fact that human nature is the same everywhere. If you pay a lazy worker $10 or $2k per hour, it doesn’t matter, they are still lazy, will still steal from their employer.
        If you give a greedy person authority over men, women or children and financial means to begin to make themselves more wealthy, that greedy person will become more unscrupulous in his dealings with everyone under his thumb until they are stopped by a higher authority, whether we are talking about a mob boss in Chicago or a chocolate farm boss in South Central Africa.
        To get the higher authority to move against them when they themselves are raking in the dough is nearly impossible, so the cycle continues. Any low level person who squawks is quietly taken care of, but also made to be an example of to others who would follow suit. How to break that cycle? Make more authority levels for more greedy people? Impose more unrealistic standards? More government rules? People from far away who really have no idea what they are talking about making more rules and demanding things? No.
        Get people interested in their own family’s improvement, land use, etc. and encourage competition in a capitalistic environment with emphasis on honesty and hard, diligent work. In many of these places, people are not interested in honesty and diligent, hard work. They want to make a quick few dollars and go do what they want with it, or they see an opportunity to take advantage of others and become more powerful crime bosses and that is why they cooperate with Western companies for a while on these endeavors like the ‘fair trade’ movement.

    3. RG,
      I would like to hear more, as other commenters mentioned – I do think that American economics is messed up and too focused on the dollar, recreation, etc., but I can’t see how getting children out of slavery and abduction can possibly be a bad thing. It’s fine for children to have to do chores, even to earn a wage for their families, but not if it’s (a) after being abducted, (b) without making any money, or (c) without access to any sort of education at all. All of these happen with the chocolate trade. So tell us more, and thank you for adding to the conversation – Katie

      1. I am sure I already appear to not be a very nice person, but I have to just refer you to my responses above. I will also add a quick thought for the things you have mentioned :(a) after being abducted, (abducted is a Western view of how this works) (b) without making any money, (Spoiled / hypocritical Westerner view: When we were a more agrarian society, children worked the same amount, just as hard, without any pay, etc. and didn’t decry it, knowing they were helping their family or the greater community. The difference is the family unit not being as strong now and not in other places in the same way – working together, for the good of all, etc. hard to condense it all here, but there is a reason some countries are classified 3rd world, and not necessarily settled or industrialized) or (c) without access to any sort of education at all. (Again a Western view. They are learning a trade and education is more than book learning. They are learning valuable life skills – yes, at times chosen for them, but it is a chance to be more useful their whole life long to get in on a seemingly booming new opportunity. Parents, uncles, etc. who set children up for that kind of a life are thinking they are enabling them to have a better life and be more educated in other ways. It is more important to them than learning to read a lot of times. Also, again, I will refer you to times that were necessary in America’s heritage when school was done over the hard long winter at the discretion of the parents with most children whether on the farm or in the city. The advent of the push for ‘education’ as described by certain rich elitists has led to the ballooning of the public education system, which, (who would even argue) has not produced a highly educated, motivated, hard working, charactered populace over time. More a society that learns what they must and then stops when they aren’t made to learn anymore, and turn to entertaining themselves above all else. All this falls under the general idea that most of the rest of the world works to survive and Westerners work so they have more and can have more leisure etc. a totally foreign concept, world view, and reserved for the filthy rich in other cultures, yet so prevalent here.)
        No, I don’t condone slavery in most cases (aren’t jailed criminals slaves in a way?) Yes, I care about women and children suffering, but enduring for a season with a future goal in mind of better things isn’t always a bad deal.

        1. RG, I agree with many of the things you have stated. Hence I homeschooled my children, made them work at home from the time they could walk and talk. Work out side the home as soon as they could find a job. Usually about 10yrs old. We were a team and still work together my youngest is 26. We all have to do what we think is right buy free trade or not it is a choice. Who I buy from actually helps the workers (young & old) and the local owners. Could it hurt them in the long run maybe…..

        2. R G,
          You don’t sound “not nice” at all, just challenging our thinking. I’m not sure I can wholly agree with you, but I do see your point that we need to make sure that society and culture sees all this as wrong, too. There are people in the country trying to stop this, particularly one bus driver in the video who routinely sees children abducted and helps them be reunited with parents.

          I agree that children are able to work, and I’ve no problem with a family farm…but this really does look a lot different than that. I also agree that we Americans seek FAR too much entertainment, but I also think that in this global society, all people need a basic education to read and write, and they’re not even getting that basic. Very interesting food for thought though…

          Thanks!
          🙂 Katie

          1. It is true that as long as there’s money to be made from exploitation, people are going to do it. That strikes me as a good reason to NOT give money to people who are doing it!

            Without Western involvement, Africa has more than enough resources to provide a comfortable living for everyone. However, between colonialism centuries ago and the new “capitalist” colonialism now, we are accustomed to Africa being poor, so poor that being beaten and worked insane hours and malnourished and sometimes raped seems like “just the way it is in Africa.”

            Yes, that’s the way it is in some parts of Africa. NOT the way it has to be.

            Seriously, if I could, I’d be tempted to never buy anything from Africa again. Not because I don’t want them to have my money, because I don’t mind that. But when you buy something from that far away, usually the money goes to the middleman and little or none to the worker.

            The main reasons for this are things we can’t really help from here — lack of stable governments, governments that take bribes from multinational corporations to evict peasant farmers from their land, a history of fragile land rights, environmental degradation, etc. However, that shouldn’t stop us from at least withholding our support from companies that profit off the exploitation of others.

            Right now I’m trying to check my sources of tea, chocolate, sugar, and paper (some of which is made unethically and illegally in Sumatra, clearcutting woodlands that belong to the poor and leaving them with land full of stumps and no compensation) because I would sooner go entirely without these things than fuel injustice. How can I say that my “right” to eat chocolate trumps someone else’s right to a few good meals a day? It’s the West’s bottomless appetite that drives poverty around the world.

            For more information, I suggest reading The Land Grabbers, by Fred Pearce. The author goes around the world looking at third-world nations and the multinational corporations that work there — the bad AND the good. Some companies manage to share the wealth around and bring benefits to the local people, but others steal peasants’ land so they can’t live, and then offer them starvation wages or no wages to work THEIR OWN land, while pocketing the profits themselves.

            I could go on and on. I don’t know much about fair trade and its good and bad effects, but I know lots about UNfair trade, and I refuse to participate in it. I’d rather eat pesticides.

            I did find some chocolate at my farmers’ market that was sold by a cooperative of farmers in Bolivia. Since the whole cooperative is farmer-owned, I know that my money goes RIGHT to the farmers and no one else.

            And you know, it didn’t even cost that much. Just what any really high-quality bar would cost, and the taste was worth the price for sure. Here is their webpage: http://www.elceibochocolate.com/

  16. I absolutely must tell you about my own favorite source for fair-trade chocolate, and other foods: Trade As One. This is an organization started by a couple from the UK, who then moved to CA to get it started, and they ended up being part of our church community for several years. They are LOVELY people, completely committed to serving the people who make their products. Here is the link to the chocolates they sell–fair trade AND organic, so no GMO worries either!

    http://tradeasone.com/shop/chocolate.html

    Personally, I LOVE the Alter Eco Dark Quinoa Crunch bar. Fair trade, organic, gluten free, vegan, full of protein, tastes fabulous, WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? : )

    For anyone who has still not transitioned from regular milk chocolate to dark chocolate–you must try the Alter Eco Velvet bar. This one has dairy, so is not vegan, but has the most lovely texture in the mouth, so rich and creamy. My sister who does not like dark chocolate really liked it. I warn you, though–it’s the gateway chocolate. ; )

    As for the issue of talking about chocolate when we are supposed to care about our health and not eat so much junk anyway–I learned a very helpful lesson last year when I went sugar free for Lent. I realized that without my afternoon treat of tea and dark chocolate, I was unconsciously compensating with way too many carbs in other forms. In fact, I realized my cravings went UP not down, and I ended up eating more things that were as good for my blood sugar. So, I concluded that it is MUCH healthier for me to just eat a little dark chocolate (and yes, only the fair-trade good stuff–totally worth it) and have my cravings satisfied.

    I hope you all check out the link to Trade As One–they also sell lots of other fair-trade items like tea and coffee!

  17. I have already been quietly boycotting Hershey for replacing some of it’s cocoa butter with PGBR, a chemical substitute. They make more money by selling the cocoa butter to cosmetic companies than leaving it in chocolate. Also, since my son is allergic to soy, we eat only EnjoyLife Chocolate chips, or Trader Joe’s organic bars. I won’t miss chocolate much if I have to give it up, but my husband may die without it.

  18. Great article! I linked to it in my brother’s post from years ago about his solution to the high price of fair-trade chocolate–he found a way to use cocoa powder, which is much more affordable, to make a quick and easy snacking chocolate.

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  20. good article.. I am one of those I guess you would call “weird” females. I could care less about chocolate. When I do feel like eating some its usually reeses. A few days ago my dh bought me some. daily he has walked the package over to me asking if I was ready to eat any. Had to tell him no. I am sure this was so strange to him as he LOVES chocolate and I would never have to follow him around with a bag asking if he were ready to eat any. LOL

  21. I recently found about this, and was pretty horrified. Thanks for getting the word out.. more people need to know about this!! Unfortunately some people probably wont care, but all we can do is try.

  22. Last year I switched to buying only fair trade chocolate. My favorite chocolate now is:

    http://www.equalexchange.coop/products/chocolate

    They are organic as well although they do use a little soy lecithin. They do tend to go on sale at my coop and at Whole Foods for 50% off every two months or so and I stock up then.

  23. Oh dear. I’ve heard rumblings about this, but never gave it my attention. We don’t eat that much chocolate around here, since one of our boys is very allergic to it. But even if he wasn’t allergic to it? I’m not sure I can look at chocolate again, knowing that it was produced by slaves. I cannot equate it with eating nonorganic strawberries. We have to eat something. Even nonorganic strawberries (or other foods) are better than HFCS or GMO foods. They satisfy some nutrient needs. But chocolate? Honestly, it doesn’t. We can live just fine without it.

  24. I limit my chocolate purchases (except for once in a very, very great while) to very dark chocolate (85-88%) from either Green & Black’s or Endangered Species. Both are fair-trade and slavery-free.

    Very dark chocolate that is carefully processed is packed with all of the phytonutrients that are good for you – regularly sweetened/processed chocolate has been wiped clean of those phytonutrients. While really dark chocolate is not very sweet, I find that my mostly whole foods, non-sweet diet has lowered my need for sweet. Dark chocolate satisfies my desire for a little chocolate without having the sugar that makes me crave more and more. One bar usually lasts me a week.

    1. Ha, I buy those 2 brands too. Green’s is so easily available compared to most and often is on sale at our London Drugs—Endangered Species harder to find, but we got Whole Foods up here in Canada to offer it for us with wide variety but is a bit further for me to go…the other stores sell only 3 flavours and they even raise the cost up on them….so it is rare I even get to have them :(.

      When either is on sale, I make it an excuse to buy two, lol. I even buy Endangered Species for X-mas gifts as in general, I am a nature conservation-minded person and I’m sure people enjoy the animals on the front, you know? plus it is chocolate.

      I admit though, sometime I’m bad and give in to a box of smarties…rarely, but sometimes. There are no fair-trade organic alternatives to smarties….or turtles either that I know of (they’d cost a real fortune if they did–the closest thing we have made locally from a gifty company is pretty expensive without being fair-trade or organic -_-).

  25. Another tricky one is coffee which always has to be produced elsewhere. A lot of amazing coffee shops have popped up supporting fair trade but one local place in GR takes it one step further and that is MadCap Coffee. They actually INVEST in these coffee farms to educate them more on their product. They found that these farmers had never even tried coffee because it was too valuable to them to consume. Therefore they never knew what to even ask in terms of price for their product which means that larger name companies can take advantage. MadCap invests in education and building relationships with the farmers so that one day, they can know what exactly their product is worth. Do I pay $15-$17 for a bag of coffee there? Yes. Is the quality better? Absolutely. Do I feel better about my purchase? Without a doubt.
    Being a conscious consumer isn’t just about cost or nutrition, it’s about knowing where your purchase is from and if there are people doing awesome things to help those who are producing the product.

  26. Cinnamon Vogue

    There is nothing like a piece of good swiss chocolate with a cup of Ceylon Cinnamon Tea, the latter controlling your sugar spikes so you can enjoy the chocolate guilt free.

    I am curious to know if VanZeek uses High Fructose corn syrup, Fair trade cane sugar or GMO beet sugar found in the US. Also are they using American milk which is badly tainted.

    Usually I don’t buy the horrible American chocolate. Only Swiss chocolate like Tablerone and Lindt. Van Zeek looks like a Swiss Chocolate although it is not clear from their web site.

    More information would be great.

    1. Hi, This is Paul from Vanzeek.com Thank you very much for bringing to the forefront this important issue. The brand Santa Barbara Chocolate is the one I recommend going with if you want pure clean ingredients. They are my favorite chocolate company because like you and me, they are really focused on quality and health (avoiding GMO and high fructose corn syrup etc). It is the one brand of chocolate I eat and prefer. Have a wonderful day. 🙂

  27. Thanks for writing this post. I held a screening of The Dark Side of Chocolate at my home around Valentine’s Day. Only my in-laws showed up and my Mother-In-Law joked, “oh, don’t ruin chocolate for me, too.” People just don’t want to face the truth about our pleasures. But we need to because we are contributing to the suffering of the most vulnerable of us – children.

    International Labor Rights Forum http://www.laborrights.org/ is a great source to keep up on labor abuses around the world and Green America http://www.greenamerica.org/
    is also great sources for finding ethically sourced products including food.

    I enjoy your blog. Keep writing!

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