Chocolate! Almost everyone adores it the world over, and it’s easy to see why. Chocolate has the ability to put a smile on people’s faces. It has the power to delight and to tempt and to tantalize. But the story of chocolate is not a sweet one.
As the world’s demand for chocolate increases by the day, there are a number of things that are being done to satisfy that voracious need. This has led to a number of disastrous and debilitating consequences. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that over 250 million child laborers are working to produce our coffee and cocoa. Child laborers are employed in farms and factories — which is in itself a tragedy — and they are not paid a decent living wage. Often child laborers who do the same work as an adult will earn less than the adult. The demand for cocoa has also sped up deforestation; entire rainforests have been lost to farming. Worst of all, revenue from the cocoa trade has helped fuel years of conflict that has destroyed families and cost many lives.
So how can you help? Don’t worry; you don’t have to stop eating chocolate, but you can now choose to support fair trade chocolate brands whose entire ethos lies in ensuring that sustainable and fairly produced cocoa is then used to make the chocolate the world craves. Fair trade chocolate brands ensure that the cocoa — from bean to bar — they use is untainted and fairly produced so that the farmers who make them receive adequate compensation and a living wage. Supporting these brands makes infinite sense in multiple ways. Keep reading for some of my recommendations.
The Six Best Fair Trade Chocolate Brands
1. Equal Exchange
Equal Exchange has it all covered, from drinking chocolate to chocolate bars to baking cocoa to chocolate chips. They were founded in 1986 “to challenge the existing trade model, which favors large plantations, agri-business, and multi-national corporations; support small farmers; and connect consumers and producers through information, education, and the exchange of products in the marketplace.”
Sounds good to us.
Try their Organic Dark Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt. Seriously. You can thank me later.
2. Theo Chocolate
Theo Chocolate started making organic chocolates in the United States in 2006. You can read about their journey toward sustainable and fair trade chocolate on their website. It’s quite a story. I especially love their philosophy: for them chocolate isn’t just a product, it’s an entire journey from bean to bar. Their website states that “Theo Chocolate comes from only the purest ingredients grown in the most sustainable ways possible. Everything we make and sell meets the highest standards for organic, Fair Trade and Fair for Life.”
3. Rescue Chocolate
Because I love animals so much, Rescue Chocolate is one of my favorite brands. They donate all their profits to animal rescue charities across the country, benefiting a new charity every month. What could be better? Rescue Chocolate really is “the sweetest way to save a life!”
Try their organic and fairly traded peanut butter pit bull, a delicious hand-crafted amalgamation of crispy peanut butter and chocolate. Delectably dispelling stereotypes about pit bulls, one chocolate at a time.
Sweetriot is “working to fix the world.” This women-owned business makes “all natural healthy chocolate treats and snacks in a socially acceptable way,” and we are here for it. As if that weren’t enough, they also partner with multiple non-profits that celebrate and promote diversity and culture. They are a sweet treat with a social justice center.
Try their Quirky Quinoa Crunch (trust me) and you won’t look back.
5. Divine Chocolate
Divine Chocolate is where it all began; they are the first farmer-owned certified fair trade chocolate brand, and they are incredibly proud of their story as well as their products. Their pride is justified. As they say on their website, “Divine Chocolate is co-owned by the 85,000 farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative in Ghana that supplies the cocoa for each bar of Divine. As owners, they get a share in the profits, a say in the company, and a voice in the global marketplace.”
6. Barefoot & Chocolate
If you’re anything like me, you are an absolute chocolate spread addict, and where does one go to get fair trade chocolate spread? Why, Barefoot & Chocolate, of course! The company was founded for that very reason, and that’s good enough for me!
Try their almond coconut chocolate spread; you won’t regret it.
Awanthi Vardaraj lives and writes in the port city of Chennai, in the south of India, where she runs her own small artisanal bakery and keeps a garden full of jasmine plants and herbs that she still cannot name. As a freelance writer, she mostly focuses on food, feminism, travel, mental health, and poverty. She also nurtures a deep love for the Oxford comma and the semicolon. Visit her website at www.awanthi.com and follow her on Twitter at AwanthiVardaraj.
Do you have some favorite fair trade chocolate brands that didn’t make the list? Let us know what they are in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.