5 Reasons to Eat Fair Trade Chocolate
1. No Child Labor
Cocoa used in fair trade chocolate is not harvested by children. This is so important as most mainstream chocolate is, even after 20 years of pressure from lawmakers. A study published by Tulane University in 2010 revealed that over 1.8 million children work on cocoa farms in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Often these children are made to work in harsh conditions, some are forced to work and very few end up being able to go to school. Tulane’s project involves hundreds of interviews in areas around cocoa farms and their site has a visualization tool so you can see exactly what percentage of children work on the farms, if they were forced, and if they go to school. It is quite an extensive report which hopefully will lead to ending child labor on cocoa farms. Big chocolate brands like Cadbury, Nestle and Hershey have all made pledges to improve cocoa communities in West Africa and reduce child labor, but it is a long process. In the meantime, just buy fair trade!
Chocolate has long been touted as the healthy dessert option, but it has really only been recently that we know why. An article from July 2014 on www.foodandnutrition.org sites a study that reveals that when we ingest chocolate there are microbes in our gastrointestinal tract that ferment it. These microbes, or bacteria, are the good kinds you want growing in your gut; they help us absorb anti-inflammatory compounds which are good for the heart. These good microbes are called Prebiotics, and they help us weed out the harmful bacteria in our digestive system and help the good kind grow. The key to this process is to eat dark chocolate that hasn’t been overly processed. The higher cocoa percentage, the better, so always check your chocolate bar for it’s cocoa percentage – it should be on the label somewhere.
Which leads us to our next reason…
3. Higher amount of Cocoa
Next time you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, examine that bar of chocolate carefully. If it’s a Hershey bar, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cocoa percentage printed anywhere on the wrapper. This is because it most likely contains very little cocoa, it’s mostly sugar. Now, find a fair trade chocolate bar, and it won’t take you more than a couple seconds to find the percentage of cocoa, it’s usually printed right on front in a big font. For some palettes, the intense dark chocolate that has upwards of 90% cocoa is a bit much, it definitely takes time to develop a taste for it, but the 70% dark chocolate bars are very nice and range in flavor from fruity to coffee, and from sweet to slightly bitter.
4. Environmental Stewardship
Not only is fair trade chocolate good for people, it’s also good for the planet. Equal Exchange, for example, works with farmers on small cocoa farms to develop sustainable harvests that preserve local habitats and increase biodiversity. All of their chocolate is organic and made with the farmer, the land, and your taste buds in mind! Most fair trade chocolate is also shade grown, meaning the farm includes other growth, like fruit trees, that grow tall and provide a canopy that the cocoa tree prefers. This helps provide higher cocoa yields and decreases the necessity for harsh chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
5. Tastes Great & Makes You Happy
This reason doesn’t need much explanation. Fair trade chocolate is delicious and releases those handy endorphins that make you happy! Eating fair trade chocolate is a win for your taste buds, a win for your brain, a win for your gut, a win for farmers, and a win for the planet –a win-win-win-win-win! There’s not much better – the only thing you have to decide is which fair trade chocolate bar to try!
What’s your favorite type of fair trade chocolate? Have you tried them all?