The Crunchy Cookie

Equal parts deliciousness and hippiness

My 14th birthday stands out in my memory for a simple reason: chocolate.  A few of my friends (hi Holly, Brooke, Jacque, etc.!), aware of my love for all things cocoa, pitched in and bought me a 10 lb chocolate bar from Costco.  I arrived to my freshman homeroom to find this behemoth of a chocolate bar on my desk and was completely thrilled and stunned.  It lasted quite a while, I might add: my parents finally resorted to giving bricks away to dinner guests as they left.

A dozen years later, I’m thrilled for another reason:  research has shown that dark chocolate has a myriad of health benefits, including antioxidants and heart-healthy cocoa phenols that lower blood pressure.   But there is a downside, and I’m not simply talking about the extra calories that come from overindulgence in dessert.  It appears that my love for chocolate helps perpetuate child labor and slavery in the Ivory Coast, the country responsible for 43% of the world’s chocolate supply. It’s estimated that as many as 15,000 children are enslaved on chocolate plantations in the Ivory Coast. That’s pretty disgusting.

Luckily, TransFair USA, the only third-party certifier of fair trade products in the US, has a handy tool that helps you find fair trade products near you. And not only does it help me feed my chocolate addiction responsibly, but it has information on how to order fair trade-certified coffee at Starbucks and even on where to buy fair trade flowers for special occasions. Makes things more palatable for everyone.

My favorites are Dagoba’s Conacado Organic Chocolate Bar (73% cacao; $3.45 per 2 oz bar) and Endangered Species Chocolate’s Organic Dark Chocolate Bar, which has the added bonus of supporting conservation efforts (70% cacao; $3.99 per 3 oz bar).

What are your thoughts on fair trade? Do you have any favorite brands or companies that sell fair trade products? Is there a better alternative out there? Let me know in the comments section or email me at sarah@thecrunchycookie.com!

2 Comments

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  1. Wow, thanks Sarah! I didn’t realize that child labor and slavery issues where that prominent when it comes to chocolate. I always try to buy fair trade products and frequent stores that support fair trade brands, but it can be really tricky. For example I used to love Trader Joes (one of the first on the list of the where to buy Fair Trade website, in my area), until a migrant worker died in their vineyard that produces the grapes for two-buck chuck. They were not providing shade and water, and she died of heat exhaustion (they also failed to get her medical attention right away when she collapsed). Anyone who’s ever visited California’s Central Valley in the summer time knows just how inhumane that is. Anyway, I’ll wrap up this long comment by saying it’s a shame that it’s difficult to find the right businesses to support, because there are so few doing the right thing, but thanks for making it a little easier on those of us who care.

  2. Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for the comment and for the information on the Two Buck Chuck incident: what a horrible story. It’s a shame that often what you pay for is what you get, both in terms of quality and quality of life for workers. Please keep spreading the word!

    Best wishes,
    Sarah