This Valentine's Day, before you cover your sweetheart with Hershey’s kisses, or toss a few of those treats into your kids’ lunch box, consider the alternative: organic, fair trade, bite-size bars made from cocoa produced by companies that care about people and the planet.
Why not Hershey’s? The company has been under fire for years from international organizations that monitor child welfare. Most of the world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa, where cocoa farmers typically live in poverty and where forced labor, especially among children, and human trafficking, are tragically common. Reports from concerned humanitarian groups describe how children often work long hours on cocoa farms performing hazardous work like using machetes, carrying heavy loads, and coming into close contact with toxic pesticides.
Several non-profit groups organized a “Raise the Bar” campaign to ask Hershey to take meaningful steps to combat child, forced and trafficked labor in its supply chain, and an online petition drive generated over 100,000 letters to the company asking it to improve its cocoa sourcing practices.
Happily, the company announced recently that it will commit to sourcing independently certified cocoa for its Bliss line by the end of 2012. However, Hershey’s produces many products that contain chocolate, including Almond Joy, Kit Kat, Whoppers Malted Milk Balls, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. What about responsibly sourcing ALL the cocoa it uses in all these products? Eighth grader Jasper Perry-Anderson has created a follow-up campaign on Change.org to ensure that the Hershey Company expands its commitment to certified cocoa to all its products in the future.
Which gets us back to alternatives to Hershey’s Kisses for Valentine’s Day. Look for chocolates that are certified both fair trade and organic. Fair trade helps protect kids, and organic helps protect the environment. Here are some yummy options you should be able to find in your grocery store, at food co-ops, and at chains like Whole Foods that have made a commitment to carry more sustainably produced products.
Dagoba – Ironically, Hershey owns this company, which was already organic and fair trade when it was acquired. Dagoba sources cacao, the primary ingredient used to make chocolate, from Latin America, South America and Madagascar. Their entire line of drinking chocolate, syrup, and cacao powder has been certifed Fair Trade by Transfair. You can buy a box of "bites" or choose full-fledged bars.
Endangered Species ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE CHIMP MINTS They're certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, kosher Non-GMO and the cacao is sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ ethically traded cacao farms ensuring fair trade, responsible labor practices and sustainable farming. Plus they taste good!
Wei of Chocolate - This organic and fair trade chocolate, also certified by the Rainforest Alliance, is infused with "energetic" flower essences that they claim lead to greater tranquility, peace and joy. They're beautifully wrapped; a box-ful would certainly enhance my peace and joy, at least as long as they lasted!
Lake Champlain Chocolates makes some delicious organic chocolates – but they're NOT Fair Trade: Organic Chocolate Truffles from Lake Champlain Chocolates - or organic chocolate squares in flavors that include cinnamon, sea salt and almonds, milk, and dark.
Then there's Ghirardelli. It promotes some of its bars as "100% all natural," but offers no explanation of what that means. There's no mention of Fair Trade or organic on its website, either. What gives?
If you prefer chocolates from these companies, please go to their websites and encourage them to adopt certified fair labor and organic practices.
Later this year, look for Hershey’s Bliss® products made with 100 percent cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms have met comprehensive sustainability standards that protect the environment and ensure the safety and well-being of workers, their families and communities. Hershey’s Bliss® chocolates are available to U.S. consumers at more than 35,000 retail outlets. Meanwhile, you can read more about Hershey’s sustainability plans here.
What Did I Miss?
If you make an organic, Fair Trade chocolate we didn't mention here, please leave a comment with all the pertinent information. If you love an organic, Fair Trade chocolate we failed to notice, please let us know! Thanks.