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Chocolate continued… →
What girl doesn’t like chocolate? Well, if you don’t then consider yourself lucky because some days I just REALLY need my chocolate fix! The other day I was sitting at my computer eating some yummy homemade trail mix and threw in some organic chocolate chips to sweeten it up a little. While I was mixing the chocolate in with the nuts and seeds, I started to wonder about chocolate. How is it farmed? Why is it organic better than conventional? I remembered reading somewhere once that cocoa farms don’t have the best practices and that it was good to buy fair trade, but I really didn’t know much more than that. So, I did some investigating on the topic and here’s what I found…
Most chocolate sold in the U.S. comes from cocoa farms where farmerswork in unsafe conditions and receive below poverty wages. Many of these workers are children under 14 years old who are forced to work and denied education. Wow. My first thought went to Halloween. Look at how much chocolate is given out to our kids as they go trick-or-treating! If only they knew that children their age, younger even, were the ones who farmed the cocoa that is in the chocolate they are about to consume. This just makes me sick.
Taken from treehugger:
Chocolate comes from cocoa, and the cocoa supply is controlled by asmall number of companies worldwide that are allowed to function withlimited accountability. Hershey’s and M&M/Mars alone controltwo-thirds of the $13 billion U.S. chocolate candy market. The result?An industry marred with child slavery, unsafe working conditions and acycle of poverty with no end in sight for cocoa farmers. Chocolatecompanies are not held accountable for sourcing practices, and despitetheir knowledge about the travesties that occur on cocoa farms, theylack the will to change.
How did conditions in the cocoa farming industry get so bad? Well, this brings me to my next thought…environmental impacts of conventional farming versus organic farming. Chocolate USED to be a sustainable crop, but as people wanted more and more chocolate, the demand increased and farmers had to change the way they grew and produced the cocoa. Ideally, cocoa likes to grow under the shade surrounded by tall trees. As an added benefit, when cocoa is planted among other trees, the environment becomes a natural habitatfor birds and wildlife, giving these animals a home! You are only guaranteed to get chocolate grown from this type of cocoa farm if you buy fair-trade, organic chocolate.
As demand for chocolate increased over the years, cocoa farmers needed to figure out a way to produce more cocoa, and they needed to do it cheaper and faster. This meant cutting down swaths of rain forest and increasingthe amount of pesticides used to stave off critters – cocoa crops grownthis way come in second only to cotton for the amount of pesticidesused. In these farms, the land is clearcut, the soil tilled with insecticides and the trees planted in rows. And what happens to all of those animals that were living among the Cocoa Trees? With their home scooped out from under them, they can no longer survive.
So, whether it be an immediate craving for chocolate, or a gift for your loved one this Valentine’s Day, think about the chocolate you are buying. Do you want to eat chocolate that was grown from cocoa farms that were possibly farmed by children? Do you want to eat chocolate that was grown with oodles of pesticides and insecticides? Or would you rather promote saving the rainforest and all of the diversity it has to offer while eating some super yummy chocolate that was grown in ideal conditions by happy farmers? The choice seems pretty easy to me :)
To be sure you are buying organic, fair-trade chocolate, look for these logos:
I can almost guarantee that once you switch you’ll not only feel better about yourself, but you’ll never want to go back to eating conventional chocolate. Organic chocolate just tastes THAT good! Plus, the more we purchase fair-trade organic brands, the moremajor chocolate manufacturers will have to consider altering theirpractice to fit current demands, which would not just improvechocolate-growing conditions worldwide, but also result in lower priceson better chocolate. If you really can’t get over the cost difference, then just skip the chocolate all together…at least it will make your hips happy!
Want to know how I made the trail mix I was eating? Come back tomorrow and you can find out! Plus, I’ll have a couple of other recipes of some great (healthy) uses for chocolate and cocoa powder!
In the meantime, check out this awesome company that claims to be the only Organic, Fair-Trade, Bean-To-Bar Chocolate Factory in the US:
*note: I haven’t actually tried chocolate from this company, but it came highly recommended from a blog that I regularly follow: The Eco Friendly Family, and from what I can tell the company seems great! If I do try their products, I will most definitely write a review :)
January 26, 2010
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