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Everybody Loves Chocolate

heart chocolate with love candle lightI bet you clicked on the link to this blog pretty quickly, right?

Lots of people love chocolate. Chocolate is the most consumed sweet treat in the world, and it is estimated that we consume more than 3 million tonnes of cocoa beans a year!

Having a sweet tooth isn’t a bad thing, but it’s important to make sure that you’re eating the best chocolate for you AND for the people making it.

Firstly, its DARK chocolate that is healthy for you, NOT milk or white chocolate (Sorry! It’s over processed and contains tons of sugar and milk that ultimately don’t do anything beneficial for your body). You should be looking for chocolate that is 75% cocoa or higher. Dark chocolate is surprisingly nutritious and contains antioxidants that are great for our bodies (in moderation of course).

Secondly, when choosing a chocolate bar to indulge in it is important to look for ethically sourced chocolate.

Nestle, Mars, and Hershey make up about 35% of chocolate production, and unfortunately all these companies rely on extremely poor and questionable labour choices, GMO’s and rainforest demolition.

That takes the sweetness out of the chocolate really quickly, doesn’t it?

If knowing that the most convenient chocolate bars to eat are the ones that are causing the most damage to other people and our environment bugs you, you aren’t alone. More and more people are concerned about what practices their money supports and if you’re a chocolate eater this is something you should consider!

So, where do we begin on our search for “Ethical Chocolate“?

Starting by looking for labels that say “FAIR-TRADE” or “ORGANIC” are a good start.

Certified Organic chocolates are generally regulated to strict USDA organic standards which include being grown with no evidence of GMO’s or pesticides for at least 3 years. Some companies will even go the extra mile and have their chocolates certified by third party companies. However, there is no guarantee about their environmental, social, or economic practices.

Fair-Trade labels guarantee that chocolate farmers are compensated fairly, fair labour practices are being observed, and that local communities are being supported. However, most farmers have to pay thousands of dollars to obtain that certification partnership which is money that could be used elsewhere.

That means that while ORGANIC and FAIR-TRADE labels can be comforting… we can still go further to ensure we’re getting the most ethical chocolate.

Ethical sustainability is comprised of Three pillars: Environmental, Social, and Economic. As mentioned before, some companies may just adhere to environmentally ethical chocolate but engage in unfair labour practices. Some may fairly compensate workers but take no notice of the environmental damage. That’s not to say engaging in only one of the pillars is a bad thing but there is always room for improvement.

It may seem like a lot of work to find a chocolate bar that supports all three pillars, but it isn’t as difficult as it seems. Instead of looking for Organic or Fair-Trade labels, look for companies that have “Direct Trade” “Single Origin” or “Bean to Bar” on the label.

The companies that use these terms are generally companies that make the chocolate FROM the bean into its final form. These companies are taking steps to eliminate middle-men and in many cases may actually be going so far as to travel to the countries these beans are from to strike up personal relationships with the farmers, ensuring that they are paid properly and giving back to the environment.

This does mean that the chocolate bars are a little more expensive (expect anywhere between $5-$9 a bar), but it’s worth it to know that you’re contributing to the wellbeing of people and the environment and not being an active participant in that damage and destruction, and honestly, because the only added ingredient is often sugar… the bars all taste unique and are better for you anyway!

Some fantastic LOCAL chocolatiers here in Winnipeg are:

Constance Popp: Located in St. Boniface they are Winnipeg’s FIRST Bean to Bar maker. Learn more about them on their website.

Decadence Chocolates: Located near Wolseley they are a chocolatier that sources chocolate from two different organizations (Cacao Barry and Callebaut) that are committed to the three pillars of sustainability. More information is listed on their website.

You can also check out stores like VitaHealth or Ten Thousand Villages for more variety of chocolate companies!

If you’re curious about where your favorite brands of chocolate fall on the Ethical scale you can check out:

Slave Free Chocolate : http://www.slavefreechocolate.org/ethical-chocolate-companies

Good Shopping Guide : https://thegoodshoppingguide.com/subject/chocolate/

Next time you find yourself craving some delicious chocolate, try to go for a bar that commits to making sure that the joy it brings you is also joy brought to those who helped make it. We promise it’ll taste even better if you do.

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