Since Valentine’s Day is upon us it is a good time to bring up chocolate and the moral consequences that goes along with purchasing the majority of chocolate we find on the shelves. Certainly chocolate has a plethora of benefits as can easily be found in research studies. These are often because of the powerful plant chemicals known as polyphenols which are made by the plant to protect itself, however us humans can ingest polyphenols for nutritional benefit. A truly polyphenol rich dessert would be a dark chocolate with Shiraz red wine which will warm and protect your heart.
But the dark side of chocolate is where does it come from? CNN did a feature a couple of weeks ago looking into the cocoa slave trade, click here for the link as it is well worth a conscience chocolate lover’s time. (will open in a new window/tab).
After seeing that video doesn’t it make you question your source of chocolate? Unfortunately nowadays with a global economy a large portion of our everyday items are made by enslaved people. However for many of the slave labor goods we buy it is hard it is hard for us to find alternatives without spending a fortune. (or not buying an Apple product in my case). Fortunately for chocolate lovers there are many options that won’t break the bankroll and also have a heart. Even in the land of Chocolates, the Swiss, think the child cocoa slavery is awful.
So what are better chocolate options? If you buy organic at least you know that environmentally there was minimal impact and you are not getting any pesticide residues. Here is a list of chocolate buyers to consider and ones to avoid. However, organic chocolate has its share of human rights concerns as well. So if you are concerned about how people (children!) are treated then the great option for buying chocolate is organic and look for the Fair Trade logo.
Locally here in Massachusetts there is a great local CoOp called Equal Exchange. They do have delicious dark chocolate and I love the 80% Panama dark chocolate. If you have kids (or for the kid in you) here is a good M&M alternative, called Sun Drops. Another organization whose chocolate should be considered is Rainforest Alliance. I am sure I missed some so please let me know.
The important point is that this Valentine’s Day let’s think about buying chocolate that is not only organic so better for the environment, but also one that doesn’t contribute to human trafficking.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Yours In Health
Licensed Dietitian / Nutritionist