Once again, my good friend, Jen from Eco Women, is here to tell you all about something we all love and how to love it even more.
People who know me, either in real life or through my blog, know that I love chocolate. Not a little, but a lot. So much so, that if my house were burning and I had time to grab only one thing before I headed for safety, I might waste a moment or two trying to decide if I should bring my chocolate stash with me. Yes, that’s how much I love the product of the cocoa bean. (Don’t worry, my children always come first in my priorities!)
If you’re reading this blog, the chances are that you are looking for ways to live a bit greener. Maybe you’re new to this or maybe you’re an eco pro. Either way, I’m going to talk about three different ways you can make a difference with your chocolate consumption.
Chocolate Tip #1: Go local
In my mind, one of the best ways to be environmentally friendly is to be a locavore. I shop locally — local stores owned by local citizens — whenever I can. Are you lucky enough to have a locally-owned gourmet chocolate shop? If so, shop there.
Here in my community, we have an amazing chocolate shop that is just a little slice of cocoa-scented heaven. The owner got his start making desserts for a local restaurant and, when he was ready to strike out on his own, the owners of the restaurant helped him get started. To this day, that restaurant offers chocolate truffles on their dessert menu. Really, it doesn’t get any more local than that.
Chocolate Tip #2: Go organic
Okay, so maybe you don’t have a great local gourmet chocolate shop. Do you have an organic grocery store, whether it’s a locally-owned shop or Whole Foods? If so, check out their offerings.
Why should you go organic? Organic chocolate was grown with no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, which means a safer and healthier Planet Earth and a safer and healthier YOU. And, if you choose organic chocolate, chances are that it is also Fair Trade chocolate, which means that the farmers growing the cocoa beans were paid living wages and worked in safe conditions.
Chocolate Tip #3: Be wise
What if you need chocolate right now and there are no local or organic options? Then make some smart choices.
I personally don’t buy chocolate made by Hershey’s and Nestle because I have issues with some of their corporate practices. Instead, I prefer Cadbury’s and Ghirardelli. What you do or not buy is up to you, but if you’re committed to making a change to benefit Planet Earth, do your research. Find out where different companies buy their cocoa beans. If they buy from Central America, do they buy Fair Trade cocoa beans? Or do they get their cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast, which has a sordid history of human rights violations and use of child labor in the cocoa industry.
If you follow just one of the tips above part of the time, you’ll be making a difference while still eating delicious chocolate. For more information on organic and Fair Trade chocolates, click here.
As you can imagine, I have some favorites. Okay, that’s an understatement, but here is a list of my five favorite chocolates that are either 100% or partially organic or the companies have corporate ethics that I admire.
- Lake Champlain Chocolates – I’ve never had anything but the most amazing chocolates from this company. Not all of their products are organic, but they’re trying to get there. In the meantime, LCC uses high quality ingredients, many of which come from local sources. If I had to choose just one thing — and it would be a hard decision — I’d go for their truffles.
- Newman’s Own Organics — From signature gourmet chocolate bars to peanut butter cups to Newman-O’s, these yummy treats are certified organic. Plus, we all know that Newman’s Own and Newman’s Own Organics give their net profits to charity. So you’re doing a good thing when you eat NOO chocolate!
- Whole Foods — Like most grocery stores, Whole Foods has its own in-store brands; unlike most grocery stores, these chocolates are made with organic ingredients. Try the truffles, you won’t be disappointed.
- Vosges — Vosges makes a variety of gourmet treats, but my personal favorite is the bacon bar. I am not kidding. Rich creamy chocolate with nibs of smoked bacon. To quote Homer Simpson, “Mmmmmm, bacon.” [Excuse me while I drool a bit here.]
- Charles Chocolates — This particular company is relatively new to me, as I’ve only bought their products a couple of times. They are fabulous, but a little pricey, so I’ll probably only buy them on rare occasions. While Charles Chocolates’ products are not 100% organic, they do use some organic ingredients and everything they use is of the highest quality.
So that’s the skinny on chocolate from an eco-friendly chocoholic! If anyone else has any recommendations, please leave them in the comments so that we can all give them a try.
Jennifer is not employed by any of the companies mentioned here, nor was she paid to review their products. All photos courtesy of the companies’ websites.