While I prefer unkept promises, a box of chocolate is high on the list for most people’s Valentine’s Day plans…whether you consume it with your sweetie or celebrate the fact that you are alone.
In America, we each eat about 11 pounds of chocolate per year. Here’s the shocking news: for once, we’re not the biggest pigs when it comes to food. The Swiss, Germans, and Brits all choke back more chocolate per capita than we do. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! Western Europe and the United States also account for the overwhelming majority of the world’s chocolate production. Of course, none of the cocoa is grown these places.
Here are the dark details behind chocolate, according to a recent Huffington Post story. The cocoa industry is worth about $90 billion a year. Just three cocoa trading and processing companies and five chocolate manufacturers rake in almost all of that cash. (Can you say “one percenters”?) And it doesn’t end up in the hands of cocoa farmers.
The World Cocoa Foundation estimates that at least 50 million people depend on cocoa production and the cocoa industry for their livelihood. The International Labor Rights Forum states that “as many as 1.5 million trafficked children are often abused by landowners and are rarely paid” to harvest cocoa beans. And
Much of the worst environmental and human rights violations are in Africa. A 2017 report by Mighty Earth says that the Ivory Coast, once heavily forested and extremely biodiverse, has lost seven of its 23 protected areas to cocoa production. SEVEN “PROTECTED” AREAS! Protected areas are national and state parks where all the wildlife you love lives.
So probably it’s time we all show a little more love to our chocolate choices.
I’ll melt with you
What not to buy? Brands that don't carry the credible labels. No matter how badly you want that afternoon chocolate kick, if it's not labeled, it can't carry the trust you need. Fortunately, you’ve got about zillion better options, so long as you watch for these key words and labels when you’re choosing chocolate (and pretty much everything else!):
The big brands with huge traders causing the most problems can’t and won’t consistently use these words to describe their chocolate. The label you’ll most often see is Fair Trade. There are bunch of different ones used by different chocolate manufacturers. Any of them mean you’re making a better choice for the planet. We recommend you consider the following brands:
Most major stores, and all eco-friendly ones, now include Fair Trade chocolate bars in their candy aisles.
Most organic chocolate is also fair trade. The concepts go hand in hand (just like you and your honeybunch).
If you want boxed chocolates, avoid malls or drugstores and instead look for an independent chocolate shop. Small suppliers tend to buy responsibly grown cocoa…because they really don’t want their hand-dipped pieces to taste like a loveless big brand bar.
What you and your honey do with the chocolate once you get home is none of our business. But you might want to whisper, “This is a gift from Klerify” softly into their ear as the Valentine’s Day fun begins.