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Chocolates

GREEN CHOCOLATE FOR VALENTINE’S DAY?

If you’re looking for delicious chocolate to give to your loved ones (or yourself) on Valentine’s Day, “green” options abound.

Chocolate is made from cocoa grown in the tropical rainforests of Africa and South America. Sierra magazine reported that cocoa growing is responsible for 14% of the deforestation that’s destroyed the rainforests of West Africa and a large percentage of the rainforests in South America. The best eco-friendly chocolate comes from small organic farms that grow their cocoa trees in the shade so they don’t have to clearcut the forests or douse the plants in pesticides to repel bugs that thrive when the plants are grown on sun-loving plantations.

Even better, most organic, shade grown cocoa is also produced using “fair trade” practices. It’s been well documented that large cocoa plantations pay cocoa farmers as little as $30 - $100 a year. Children labor on these plantations as well, applying pesticides and using machetes to clear forests.  “Fair trade” cocoa growing coops pay farmers a decent wage, prohibit child labor, and provide better working and living conditions for workers and their families.

If you’re shopping online, at a natural foods store or food coop, look for

If you’re at the mall, Sam’s Club or CVS, try

  • Russell Stover Assorted Organic Chocolates, Organic Pecan Delights, Organic Coconut Covered Chocolates
  • Dove Organic Chocolates – Dark Chocolate, Citrus Spice, Milk Chocolate

The downside? Neither company appears to use suppliers whose ingredients come from fair trade sources. Encourage them by calling these numbers:

Russell Stover: 1-800-777-4028
Dove: 1-800-551-0704

For more information about fair trade practices, visit Transfair USA, a non-profit organization that certifies fair trade growers and producers.

This report by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development documents child-labor abuses in the cocoa industry.

Rainforest Relief put together this list of chocolate companies to avoid until they start offering organic, fair-trade chocolate.

And if you want more organic food choices, visit Your World.

 

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