Published on February 11th, 2013 | by Becky Striepe
What to Do for Valentine’s Day: Choose Slavery-Free Chocolate
Chocolate is a Valentine’s Day staple, and you want the gifts you give to be made with love, right? If you’re wondering what to do for Valentine’s Day, don’t forget the Fair Trade chocolate for your sweetie!
Flowers? Check! Thoughtful gift? Check! Chocolate? Wait one second!
Before you grab those pink and red Hershey’s Kisses or that special Valentine’s Day-themed Kit Kat bar to complete the Valentine’s Day trifecta, let’s talk for a minute about where that chocolate came from, OK?
Unfortunately, most commercially-made chocolate is produced under terrible conditions. That includes child slaves harvesting the cocoa for those pretty heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. The CNN report at the top of this page sheds some light on child slavery in the chocolate industry.
That is the bad news. The good news? You can find slavery-free chocolate! Here are some tips on how to make sure that chocolate you lovingly chose was made with love, too.
Choosing Ethical Chocolate
When you’re grabbing that bar or box of chocolates, take a good look at the box. Ethical chocolate will have a third-party certification, like Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance, that helps you know that your chocolate wasn’t harvested by child slaves or otherwise exploited workers.
The thing about certifications is that they are very expensive. Just like with the organic label, there are some small companies that source their ingredients ethically but can’t afford the pricey certification. If you know a chocolate producer that you like, talk to them about where their cocoa comes from or do a little digging about their corporate social responsibility policies. You might just be pleasantly surprised!
Here’s a good example of a little research paying off: I was very bummed out to realize that one of my favorite chocolate companies, Chocolove, does not have Fair Trade or any other ethical sourcing certifications. Their packaging has a stamp graphic on it that I mistook for a Fair Trade marking for many years, but after digging through the company website, it looks like these bars – though not certified – are still ethically sourced! They are going to seek For Life and Fair For Life certifications next year, and in the meantime, their company mission is pretty clear about their sourcing:
“We accept responsibility to assure that all ingredients in our products have been sourced through ethical and socially responsible means.
We work to uphold International Labor Organization (ILO) standards with respect to child labor in cocoa bean harvesting.
We will actively communicate our social responsibility philosophy.
We are committed to a social solution that works for the farmer, the interim handlers, our chocolate supplier, and our customers and consumers.”
This is what I mean about certifications. They’re pricey, and not all companies that source ethical chocolate can afford to use them. I can’t wait to get their dark chocolate raspberry bar again (which, ps, is vegan)!
If you need help finding ethical chocolate and don’t have time to scour the label, here are some chocolate brands that focus on sourcing slavery- and exploitation-free chocolate:
Did I miss any good, ethical chocolate brands? Share your favorites in the comments!
Image Credit: Valentine’s Day Chocolate photo via Shutterstock