Ancient civilizations drank and worshipped it, the wealthy flaunted it and wars were fought over it (even today); it’s no exaggeration to say that the cocoa bean is one powerful little seed. And as a wise uncle once famously said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Like any other high-demand crop, the cocoa industry has its share of problems. Issues of sustainability, conflict and exploitation have affected the supply and prices, not to mention it has hurt thousands of cocoa farmers.
Côte d’ivoire (Ivory Coast) supplies almost half of world’s cocoa supply, but farmers there are paid so little that they’ve never tasted the fruits of their back breaking labor. What makes matters even worse, people are killed for cocoa.
Feeling guilty? Maybe more than the normal caloric guilt associated with eating a chocolate bar? Try looking for fair trade and organic chocolate.
It isn’t cheap, but fair trade and organic chocolate companies make sure that cocoa farmers earn a livable income, the crops are grown with minimal impact on the environment, resulting in a delicious and socially conscious product for you to enjoy.
For the health and socially conscious, look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa.
Some brands I recommend:
- Green and Black’s Chocolate (UK based)
- Pay farmers in Belize fair trade prices and support their cooperative
- Endangered Species Chocolate (Indianapolis based)
- Non-gmo and donate 10% of net profits to help species conservation, habitat preservation, and humanitarian organizations
- They even have crème filled bars that are vegan (!)
- Taza Chocolate (Boston based)
- Uses an old-school stone ground method
- Direct trade (more on direct vs. fair here), meaning farmers are paid a premium for a higher quality crop
All three brands (and many others) can be found at Whole Foods or on Amazon.
Do you eat organic or fair-trade chocolate? Any brands or companies you would recommend?