Saturday, November 13, 2010

Focus on Chocolate, Part Three: What To Eat

It is rewarding for me to have heard from many of you who were touched by my original post about chocolate production and the industry's ties to child slavery in West Africa. I know that it can be shocking and upsetting to hear about abuses like these, and to become aware that our own actions have been contributing to the problem without our knowledge. To those of you who have allowed yourselves to accept this difficult reality, and have made a commitment to become part of the solution, thank you for your courage and open mindedness.

In an effort to support your progress towards a life composed of kinder daily choices, I have put together a list of some of my favorite fair trade chocolates, along with information about where they can be purchased. Please feel free to add any that I may have overlooked in the comments.

Divine Chocolates is the only fair trade chocolate company that is 45% owned by the cocoa farmers themselves. The fair trade designation ensures that farmers receive a better deal for their cocoa, and company ownership gives them a share of Divine's profits and a stronger voice in the industry. You can buy Divine online or see if it's carried in a store near you.

Equal Exchange Chocolates seem to be a favorite among fair trade chocolate aficionados. I recently bought a box of their minis (the size of the Hershey's minis you probably remember from childhood Halloweens) for my son's birthday pinata and they were a hit with kids and adults alike. Equal Exchange also makes baking cocoa (that's what I use for brownies and chocolate cake) and drinking cocoa. You can buy EE chocolate products online; I couldn't find a searchable database on the site of retail locations but it is carried by my local natural foods Co-op.

Theo Chocolate is the only organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the United States. It's made in Seattle, Washington, and I'm feeling tempted to take a trip up there just to experience their factory tour! :-) I have one of their Spicy Chile bars waiting in my cupboard to be tasted, and I'm also lusting after their Peppermint Stick bar, which sadly seems to be out of stock at the moment... You can buy Theo chocolate online or see if it's carried in a store near you.

Green & Black's Organic Chocolates have just become 100% fair trade certified. I am somewhat obsessed with their Maya Gold bar. They also make a white chocolate bar (sadly for me, not vegan) and a baking chocolate bar. I don't see an online shop on their website, but you can always see if it's carried in a store near you.

Sweet Earth Chocolates is one brand I haven't tried yet, but hope to soon! They have an amazing variety, ranging from the expected bars and cups to things like bulk chocolate chips, melting chocolate (suitable for fondue and chocolate fountains!), peppermint bark, and crazy-good cocoa mix flavors like chai cocoa and peppermint cocoa. They even have a Haiti relief bar where $1.00 from the purchase of each bar goes to Partners In Health. I'm telling you - you will be amazed by this selection - check it out!

Speaking of chocolate chips... I know they are a staple in our house, and perhaps in yours as well? Our local natural foods stores carry Sunspire chocolate chips, so that's what I use, and I'm very happy with them. If you can't find them locally, you can buy them online, along with a wide variety of other chocolate confections. It looks like not all of Sunspire's products have fair trade certification (though the chocolate chips I buy do), but they seem to be making a good effort in this regard, which you can read more about here.

Sjaak's Organic Chocolates are actually made right here where I live in Northern California. I am fortunate to be able to shop at their charming little storefront in Old Town, Eureka, but when I recently discovered their website, I was amazed by the number of vegan and fair trade options that are available beyond what I've seen in the local stores.

Their entire line is not fair trade (so check the item titles/descriptions carefully when shopping their website), but all of the following options are fair trade, and I can recommend each enthusiastically!
Whew! That's a whole lot of chocolate! Enjoy exploring the many varieties of fair trade chocolate available to you, and if you find something you love, be sure to tell me about it!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tamara,
    Thanks for what you're doing to support Fair Trade.
    As for where to find Equal Exchange chocolates -- most every consumer food co-ops in the country carry them (see for a list of co-ops nationwide).
    And most (maybe all?) Whole Food stores carry our chocolates. Many also carry our cocoa products.

    Rodney North, worker-owner, Equal Exchange