Ethical Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is in one week, let’s talk chocolate.

I am a fan of chocolate. I’m sure many of you are. In moderation, chocolate can be good for you, especially dark chocolate, which is what we eat in our house. People are sometimes surprised that my 4-year old son loves dark chocolate. (We are talking 72% here, if not higher.) I explain that due to his milk allergy, he has never even tasted milk chocolate.

I am not, however, a fan of child labor and especially abhor child slavery. I trust you agree with me on this issue.

What does this have to do with chocolate? Everything.

The majority of chocolate in the market place originates from the Ivory Coast in Africa or is mixed with cacao beans from the Ivory Coast. Dreadfully, child labor and child slavery is all to common. The major chocolate manufactures have known about this problem for years, but it is only under pressure from consumers that they are beginning to do anything about it.

CNN International recently did a series on child labor and slavery in the chocolate industry. I urge you to read the articles and watch the videos so you understand just how big a problem this is. Warning- you may want to have a box of tissues handy.

What can you look for when buying chocolate to know that child slavery was not involved in the production?
Look for chocolate that is labeled “Fair Trade,”  “Rainforest Alliance,” or Certified Organic.  All three certifications mean the chocolate was sourced without the use of illegal child labor.  The workers are treated well, paid fairly and, in the case of organic, pesticides were not used.  Here is a list of manufactures who use ethically sourced chocolate: http://slavefreechocolate.org/directory-chocolate/ .  I personally can attest to the deliciousness of the Trader Joe’s Organic Dark Chocolate Bars.  They are what I have been eating for the last four years as they are one of the few chocolates I have found without soy lecithin in them, another ingredient on my son’s list of things that make him sick. I usually eat them as is, but I’ve also chopped them up for cookies and such and melted them down to mold into new shapes.  Don’t forget to look for ethical cocoa powder as well.

You will note that the major chocolate companies are not listed.  They may have some lines that are fair trade or organic, but as a whole, it just doesn’t seem to be part of their business practice to ensure that child slavery is not perpetuated.

Sorry, the waxy tasting chocolates in the heart shaped box you were planning on buying at the drug store on the way home Valentine’s night just won’t cut it.

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