Monday, January 26, 2009

Mmmm Chocolate That's Good for the Planet!

I am sick, working with preschool children tends to do that... so chocolate is my remedy. I LOVE chocolate-mmmmmm...
Sadly, supporting the regular chocolate industry is also like "death" for the planet and for so many thousands of abused workers and children. CHILDREN?? My beautiful chocolate was made by abused child slaves??? 

The six largest cocoa producers in the world are Ghana, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria and Cameroon. As of 2002 a study released by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture reported that an estimated 284,000 children are working on cocoa farms in hazardous tasks such as using machetes and applying insecticides and pesticides without appropriate protection. Also, a reported 12,500 children did not have relatives in the area- a warning sign for human trafficking... ( Wow. Although the free trade agreement in 2001 takes some measures to attempt to dissuade human rights violations, it does not assure that the farmers or their families receive a fair wage or price for their labour. 
For excellent resources and info check out:

All this, and we haven't even begun to talk about how poor regulations and farming techniques can devastate fragile tropical ecologies (mmmm pesticide chocolate- adds that extra bounce to your step! ACK).

Ok- I am not giving up chocolate, I love it too much, nevermind the argument of economic dependancy these countries have on demand for cocoa production. No worries! There are 'conflict free' chocolate options to replace your "blood chocolate"! YAY. Now, because of the child trafficking and human rights violation stuff- Fair Trade is a must for me. Usually most chocolate is both fair trade and organic, and it's likely that if the farm is organic the workers are treated and paid "better".... Maybe. I also think of paying the extra dollars for Fair Trade and Organic as a way to dissuade my compulsive chocolate buying tendencies.

Here are a few of my favourites that I have found both of the West and East Coast of Canada :)

Not only do they have great wrappers with pictures of endangered animals on them- they donate 10% of their net profits to support species, habitat and humanity (Chimp Haven, The Ocean Conservancy
, scholarships in Nigeria to name a few)! They are centrally located in Indiana and have a LEED registration for environmental efficiency. Their cocoa is shade grown with options of organically grown (with certification). They do claim fair wages and price- but no third party certification is there. The chocolate tastes FANTASTIC and they usually put in a small bit of info on an endangered species (on recycled paper of course!).

Mmmm- so tasty!! I LOVE their Organic Dark Chocolate with Mint- sooo yummy! Although on their website it has three options, Europe, USA and UK- my chocolate bar from here in Canada says it was made in Italy...  In any case- they have third party Organic certification and make everything from ice cream to chocolate bars. Yum! No Fair Trade certification- so all claims made by the company are essential just that: claims.

This company is really my favourite! They produce 100% Fair Trade Certified AND Certified Organic chocolate that tastes FABULOUS. Also- they are a Canadian company- WOOT! Their cocoa beans are shade grown (of course!) and their internal wrappings are made from polypropylene which uses less energy than aluminum and is recyclable! They do sell in the States and even have a handy- find a local retailer option :) Their chocolate is amazing and I LOVE their cocoa powder- yummy addition to your fair trade organic coffee in the morning! :)

4. Just Us! (local coffee roaster)
Just Us! Coffee Roasters is one of our local fair trade organic coffee companies here in Nova Scotia. Their local caf├ęs are sustainably run with compostable coffee cups to boot! (Provincial law imposes that all residents of Nova Scotia Compost all organic matter). Their chocolate is also fair trade and organic certified PLUS it's local, so the carbon footprint of shipping is less and I am supporting a local business as well as the farmers who grew my beautiful cocoa beans :) Ultimately, finding a local company that processes fair trade and organically certified chocolate is the best bet!

Chocolate loving Yogini- out!

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