I never gave much thought to an ordinary chocolate bar. However there is actually a lot more to a chocolate bar than meets the eye. Little did I realize that chocolate can be grown with child labor, have environmental consequences and can contain pesticide residue. I’ve since learned more about chocolate and I consider the source of my chocolate more carefully. There a few brands of ethical fair-trade certified chocolate bars that are worth investing in when that crazy chocolate craving hits. Check out some of the best fair trade chocolate brands below.

Consequences of Cheap Chocolate

Poor Farmers

  • The average cocoa farmer earns less than a dollar a day. Cocoa farming is often full of ruthless and corrupt practices of trade, and land destruction.

Child Labor

  • Washington Post recently interviewed a few boys harvesting cocoa on the Ivory Coast.
  • Child labor is a lot more common than you think.
  • An estimated 250 million slaves work to produce the coffee and cocoa we buy every day. This is according to the International Labor Organization.
  • Young boys are working long hours for low wages on cocoa farms with little time for school and education.
  • Would you buy a chocolate bar labeled “made with child labor”? An innovative idea would be to label ALL chocolate “made with child labor”. What if instead of looking for a label indicating no child labor each label indicated it WAS made with child labor. What an innovative idea!

Deforestation

  • Côte d’Ivoire has lost 85% of its forest in the past two decades.
  • Most cocoa is grown in mono-cultures in a practice known as the full-sun system This practice requires the removal of all surrounding trees.
  • Destruction of protected rain forests to make cocoa bean farms is reality.
  • Deforestation is a huge problem impacting climate people and animals.
  • Unfortunately, a lot of the top chocolate companies are turning a blind eye.

Quality Chocolate for Your Health

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Growing Cocoa Beans

The natural habitat of a cocoa plant is the shady rain forest. The indirect canopy light allows them to thrive.

In contrast many farmers grow cocoa beans in large farms using the full-sun system. The quality and quantity of the cocoa plant grown outside its natural environment is subpar. These plants are also more often than not sprayed with pesticides.

Chocolate Bar Ingredients

Here are a few harmful ingredients found in traditional, brand name chocolates that you might want to watch out for

  • Soy Lecithin
  • Corn Syrup
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Vanillin
  • Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
  • Dipotassium Phosphate
  • Carrageenan
  • Artificial Colors.

Learn how to read food labels with this cheat sheet.

Broken Promises

The world’s largest chocolate companies Mars, Nestlé and Hershey pledged nearly two decades ago to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate you buy today still starts with child labor.

Delaying tactics are taking place because too many people are profiting from the present chaos.

None of the companies want to break with the existing system of smallholder farming and take on the responsibility of developing their own large-scale plantations. Equally, governments don’t have the resources to secure their forests and relocate the hundreds of thousands of people illegally occupying them

As a result, the odds are that a chocolate bar bought in the United States is the product of child labor.    

Choosing Ethical Chocolate

What is Fair Trade?

“When we buy fair trade products, we are casting a vote for the ethical treatment of the laborers around the world who are responsible for the food we eat.”

Look for fair trade labels on chocolate bars. Do the research on different chocolate bar companies and you might be surprised at what you find.

Be aware that “fair trade” isn’t 100% fool proof.

  1. Some smaller companies may not be able to afford the cost of these certifications. So no certification doesn’t necessarily mean the chocolate is bad.
  2. Bigger labels aren’t necessarily a perfect solution since not 100% of farms are inspected 100% of the time for labor practices.
  3. Chocolate with the Fair Trade label is definitely a better choice than conventional chocolate.
The Best Fair Trade Chocolate Brands

The Best Fair Trade Chocolate Brands

Love a great bar of chocolate?

Consider purchasing from these ethical chocolate companies / brands in order to support change in the cocoa industry.

Endangered Species Chocolate

  • 26+ flavor varieties.
  • A commitment to high quality ingredients.
  • Mission to support and fuel conservation efforts wold wide.
  • Commitment to social and ethical impact.
  • Fair trade cocoa that can be traced back to Fair- trade farms in West Africa.

Equal Exchange

  • Sustainably farmed ingredients without harmful pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Their mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound.
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Check out their podcast.

Chocolove

  • Chocolove’s mission is to make and sell the best tasting chocolate in a way that makes customers and everyone involved, happy.
  • Committed to delivering the highest quality chocolate both ethically and at a good price.
  • Non-gmo verified ingredients.

Lily’s

  • Chocolate made without refined or processed sugars.
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • They donate portions of their profits to support kids with cancer.

Green & Blacks Organic

  • USDA certified organic and Fair Trade certified.
  • Green & Blacks is committed to creating great tasting, ethically sourced chocolate.
  • The company vision is that empowered, thriving cocoa farming communities are the essential foundation for sustainable cocoa.

Alter Eco

  • Certified Fair Trade, Non-GMO and Organic
  • They use Compos table Packaging and offset carbon emissions by planting thousands of trees within their supply chains.
  • Their mission is to pioneer a full circle approach to eating, farming, and doing business – and to inspire others to do the same.

Theo Chocolate

  • Fair for Life certified Fair trade. Fair for Life additionally verifies we have respectful relationships with partners, fair working conditions in our manufacturing, and that the environment is respected across our full supply chain.
  • The first organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the country. It would be fun to go visit!
  • Theo Chocolate’s founding principle is that the finest artisan chocolate in the world can (and should) be produced in an entirely ethical, sustainable fashion.

Divine Chocolate

  • Divine Chocolate has been crafting Fair Trade chocolate for over 20 years
  • High-quality, natural ingredients without artificial flavors
  • Palm oil free

What will you do when that chocolate craving hits?

I personally haven’t tried all of these brands, but they all look amazing. The ones I have tried are delicious and worth that extra few dollars to know that I’m not eating pesticide laden chocolate promoting slave labor. Which brand are you going to try first?

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