Thursday, April 16, 2009
Earth Friendly Chocolate
With Earth Day coming up on April 22, I thought I'd put together a list and information about earth-friendly chocolate also known as eco-chocolate.
What makes chocolate earth-friendly?
A little background: There are issues related to chocolate that need to be taken into consideration. First the demand for chocolate is so great that there are forces at work (human forces) to clear more and more of the rainforests to accommodate single crop cacao tree plantations. This leaves open sunny fields that lower the levels of plant and animal diversity. Along with that is the fact that some plantations use large amounts of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides that devastate not just the land but animal and bird populations--and other plants.
Another big problem with cacao production is child labor. Although this is not an environmental issue it is being addressed by environmentalists and humanists. 284,000 children between the ages of 9 and 12 work in hazardous conditions on West African cacao plantations. Many cacao workers in Ivory Coast (more than 40% of world's cacao is grown there), are underage and overworked. Read more. This is where fair-trade advocates have targeted the large producers to improve working conditions. To read more about conditions and responsible scientists and environmental groups, go here.
So what earth friendly chocolate should you eat on Earth Day?
Look beyond the word "organic." Opt for "fair trade certified"
Choose chocolates made from local ingredients. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that produces cacao: The Hawaiian Chocolate Company is absolutely terrific since it's truly bean to bar on the big Island, so that's a great one!
Don't forget to check out if the brand uses recycled paper with no plastic inserts or plastic coating.
Here are a few on my own list, but there are many more, and I look forward to comments.
Republica del Cacao
Green and Black
Hawaiian Chocolate Company
The Grenada Chocolate Company
As well as brands of organic chocolate bars, there are several non-organic companies that have organic lines.
O.K. so I know you're either feeling a bit guilty by now or very virtuous, but here's something chocolate you can do without any of the calories. Adopt a chocolate tree. For $49, The Foundation for Integrated Education and Development (FUNEDESIN) offers a certificate of adoption, two bags of Ecuadorian chocolate and 10% off the regular price of Yachana Lodge tours.
Want to read a real earth-friendly chocolate story? Two Brits went from the U.K. to Africa driving a truck that's using 2000 liters of biofuel produced from waste chocolate. Now that's really using everything chocolate!