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!

My very talented friend Catherine just published a great piece about things you can do in five minutes a day to be happier and less stressed, and they’re not necessarily what you would expect! My two favorites from the list are drinking tea and eating chocolate, but maybe that IS sort of obvious. This article makes me think about other healthy living activities I want to incorporate in my daily routine, like yoga and meditation. Keep checking back for more on those soon, and check out the article for great ideas on how to be more balanced today: http://lifeandbeautyweekly.com/feature/stress_relief/index.html.