We’ve all heard that chocolate is good for you. Whether you’re looking to improve your heart health, reverse the signs of skin-aging, or figure out the best weight loss diet for your body, the health benefits of chocolate are as numerous as they are delicious.
But there’s a catch.
You know how chocolate is made of ground up, fermented beans from the cacao plant, a plant that proliferates in the lush, tropical climate of the Ivory Coast? Yeah, well, this beautiful paradise is also one of the world’s greatest repositories of modern day slavery… And nearly all of the major candy, ice cream, and food companies benefit from this slave labor.
This isn’t a small problem, either. The International Labor Organization claims that there are 250 million child slaves forced to produce coffee, cocoa, and many other of our everyday goods, and despite the banning of child labor in 2008, the market continues to thrive.
Which chocolate companies use slave labor?
Let’s put it like this. The next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store, eying the rows of candy bars, gum, and other last-minute impulse buys, take a mental snapshot. You see those chocolates? Those delicious, mass-produced, caramel swirled giblets? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just about every sugar-coated morsel on those shelves was made possible by kidnapped children and unpaid workers. In fact, Hershey, Nestle, and Mars candy have all found themselves the subject of class actions lawsuits because of their lack of transparency about their exploitative production processes.
We can fight back, however.
It is possible to enjoy the taste of chocolate without having to support the cruel, illegal means of production which indentures thousands of men, women, and children every year.
Which chocolate brands create their products under humane conditions?
The following brands of chocolate are certified Fairtrade, meaning that they used no forced labor or child labor in their production process, and the companies pay their workers a fair wage. If you would like to learn more about what it means to be Fairtrade, feel free to visit the cocoa section on fairtradeamerica.org.
Taza Chocolate: Can I just be real, here? I tried their 95% dark stone ground chocolate bar the other day, and it was amazing. I’m always on the lookout for Fairtrade, organic chocolate that packs a flavanol punch, and this one is absolute a keeper. Their commitment to providing opportunities and a fair wage to cocoa farmers around the world sets a great example for all chocolate companies to follow.
Endangered Species Chocolate: This is another brand of chocolate that is close to my heart. They’re not only Fairtrade, but go donate a certain amount of your purchase money toward saving the endangered specie on the label. Give them your money, or the ocelot dies.
Guittard: Wouldn’t it be great it chocolate could be grown in the shady, tropical undergrowth? So much of the jungle could be saved from deforestation, along with all of forest creatures who call it home. Well, great news! Guittard uses shade-grown cacao in their confections, along with Fairtrade work practices that ensure their farmers are protected from the exploitation.
Divine: Do you know who owns the largest share of the Divine Chocolate Company? You guessed it, the cacao farmers themselves. 85,000 members of the Kuapa Kokoo own this company, and ensure a work environment that meets Fairtrade expectations.
Chocolove: As if their cute little love letter packaging wasn’t enough, these chocolate bars also bear the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal – you know, the cute little green froggy – to demonstrate that they are not sourcing their cocoa in a way that harms the surrounding wildlife or environment.
Green and Black: According to this company’s website, “Green symbolizes our commitment to always sourcing ethical cocoa. Black stands for our high quality and the delicious intensity of our chocolate.” What more can you ask for?
Dandelion Chocolate: Dandelion uses only two ingredients to make their chocolate: cocoa beans and organic cane sugar. As for their commitment to Fairtrade Practices, their website states that “We do our best to work directly with the producers who grow, ferment, and dry the cacao we buy. We travel to origin as frequently as possible to learn about our producers’ best practices, exchange feedback, and make sure that high standards of quality and sustainability are met.”
Potomac Chocolate: Now this one’s just plain cool. Potomac chocolate consists of one man in his basement, crafting some of the tastiest chocolates the world has ever known. Ben Rasmussen uses only ethically-sourced ingredients and beans in his products, and his craftsmanship shows in every bite. You won’t even miss Hershey’s.
Sappho Chocolate: This small, high quality company offers beautiful, delicious, ethically sourced chocolates for every occasion. Their Nine-Truffle Assortment looks like it’s made from scrumptious fairy rocks; an absolute must for your next munchies attack.
Theo Chocolate: This chocolate company is committed to supporting the ethical treatment of cacao farmers around the world, and is certified organic, Fairtrade, nongmo, and kosher.
Belvas Chocolate: This company ensures that even the packaging of it’s delicious, high quality chocolates are produced under Fairtrade conditions. They’ve been proud to offer you the best in ethically-sourced chocolate since 2005.
Lily’s Sweets: As if their beautiful packaging wasn’t enough, Lily’s sweets is committed to providing Fairtrade chocolates that everyone will enjoy. Even more impressively, these chocolate confections are sweetened with stevia, not sugar, so no need to feel guilty about picking up a bar.
Fran’s Chocolates: Go ahead, try not to get hungry while you’re browsing through pictures of Fran’s super delicious, Fairtrade chocolates. Whether you’re craving dark, milk, or white chocolate, Fran’s got you covered. By the way, this company is known for their delicious chocolate sauce, a delicacy that is so scrumptious you could eat it straight out of the jar. You can always pick up ice cream later.
Alter Eco Foods: This company is a great choice for the health conscious consumer of chocolate. They make their products from organic ingredients, unrefined cane sugar, and rumor has it, non-hydrogenated unicorn magic. You can’t go wrong with these guys.