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Conscious Chocolate

Find chocolate that's good for your health—and the planet.

By Christie Matheson


It's no longer news that dark chocolate is good for our health: It's even got 14 times as many antioxidants as broccoli. But its virtue goes only so far if it isn't produced sustainably. Conventionally harvested cacao (the plant from which chocolate is made) is second only to cotton in the amount of pesticides used to grow it, according to the Pesticide Action Network. And it's often grown in areas stripped of rainforest flora and fauna. What's more, standard-style cacao farming has been linked to child labor, slave labor, and other harsh labor practices, says Nicole Chettero, a spokesperson for TransFair USA, the only independent third-party Fair Trade product certifier in the United States. Fair trade chocolate, by contrast, comes direct from small farms whose practices don't violate human rights. "Fair Trade certification guarantees that no slave labor is used," Chettero says. "The gold standard is to look for chocolate labeled Fair Trade Certified and organic." Not available in your local store? "To increase supply, increase demand—ask for it," Chettero advises.

If you can't find treats labeled as both fairly traded and organic—the push for sustainable chocolate is somewhat recent—look for at least one of those designations. Phrases such as "pesticide free," "Rainforest Alliance Certified," and "ethically traded" also suggest that a company is making an effort to use cacao harvested in a humane and eco-friendly way.

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Reader Comments

Nicole S. Urdang

If you are looking for reliable reviews of chocolate please see my site:
There are many posts on fair trade and organic bars.

Ayla Riggle

70% and more cacao content has been deemed as a health food by the American Dietetic Association, right up there with Red wine. Just aim for Dark Chocolate in it's PUREST form, without Soy lecithin subbed for cocoa butter, and made from Cacao farms where fair trade acts are rigorously insured. Try THEO Chocolate, The U.S.'s first and only ALL organic and fair trade chocolate made in Seattle, often with local ingredients available.

Logan Peever

For pastry chefs out there, Callebaut does cary and organic, and organic fair-trade line of chocolate which is certified all the way down to the sugar and milk they use, google them to find out more

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