Maybe Valentines day is a lot-a-bit commercialised, but that doesn’t have to take away from the beautiful jesters lovers do for one another on this special day. From romantic picnics to candle-lite dinners for two. However you decide to spend this Valentines day there is almost a guaranteed exchange of chocolate. This Valentines day we can try and make the most ethical chocolate choices. Scroll to the bottom for my favourite Raw Chocolate Brownie Recipe and for a list of local Fair Trade Chocolate available in your country.
Chocolate and the Environment
Chocolate production is an energy intensive process, taking about 18 500 calories of energy to produce 1kg of chocolate*. We also have food miles to think about. Cocoa beans do not grow in Canada or Australia but grow best 15-20 degrees north or south of the equator, generally in West Africa, Central and South America and parts of Asia. Just like coffee, it is hard to imagine a life without chocolate.
*1L bottle of water takes 715 calories of energy to produce.
Chocolate and Child Slave Labour, The Uncomfortable Truth
The chocolate industry does well to stay out of the spot light, but for years organisations such as the International Labor Rights Forum have been advocating for a stop to child labour. On the Ivory Coast it is estimated that more than 100 000 children work in hazardous conditions, many of them slave labourers brought in from neighbouring Mali. We have all heard about child slave labour, but sometimes when you see it, it really hits home. The documentary Dark Side of Chocolate by Miki Mistrati and U. Roberto Romano gives some good insight into child labour practices on the Ivory Coast.
Chocolate Producers Dodging Their Ethical Obligations
Back in 2001, The Cocoa Protocol was signed by Hershey’s, Nestle, Kraft and Cargill voluntarily as a commitment to become child labour free by 2005. As you can guess this was never backed up – the deadline was pushed to 2008 and now with the lowered standard of a 50% decrease in child labour. Their business model puts constant growth as a goal above the social impacts of production. So how and why would companies such as Hershey’s allow room to address the issues of child trafficking and labour?
Hershey’s in the Headlines – A Step In The Right Direction?
The Raise the Bar campaign (Global Exchange, Green America and International Labor Rights Forum) threatened to run an ad during the 2012 Super Bowl, exposing Hershey’s dirty secrets. Things took a turning point when Hershey announced a commitment to fully switch their Bliss line of chocolate to independently certified cocoa. They also offered a donation of $10 million to help educate West African farmers about trade and child labor issues. Hershey has also upped their commitment to 100 percent certified cocoa by 2020 – Hershey’s has chosen Rainforest Alliance as their certifying body.
Until all chocolate companies get their act together we as the consumer are responsible for making the choices to ensure we are not supporting child labour, or the exploitation of farmers. Simple choices we can make can change the world. Let’s try and choose certified Fair Trade (or Rainforest Alliance) chocolate and cocoa products this Valentines. See my list of Canadian Fair Trade Chocolate or Australian Fair Trade Chocolate.
Recipe for Raw Chocolate Brownie
Makes 16 small squares
Recipe adapted from The Healthy Chef
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time To Finish: 1 hours and 15 minutes
Ingredients for Raw Chocolate Brownie
1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
1 cup dates
1/4 cup fair trade organic cocoa or raw organic cacao*
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup macadamia butter
1/2 cup dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
*Cacao is usually organic and is not processed using heat, making it a raw product which has more antioxidants and nutrients. Cacao is often grown using sustainable practices and growers are paid a fair salary.
Method for Raw Chocolate Brownie
Process the walnuts and almonds in a food processor until they are roughly chopped.
Add the dates, cocao, vanilla and salt. Process until well mixed. Add 2 tbsp of water, or enough to make the mixture stick together.
Firmly press mixture in a prepared baking dish (seasoned with oil).
For topping put all ingredients in a blender (or a processor if yours takes small amounts). The salt enhances the flavour of the caramel and chocolate. Blend well and layer on top of brownie mixture.
Let sit in fridge for one hour (if you can wait that long). Enjoy with your special Valentine, or all to yourself :)
- Camino-Camino is a Canadian brand of Fair Trade and organic food products, owned by the Ottawa-based La Siembra Co-operative.
- Denmen Island Chocolate – Denman Island Chocolate is located in British Columbia’s beautiful Gulf Islands and sells organic Fair Trade chocolate.
- Giddy Yoyo- A Canadian company that sells organic, Fair Trade, GMO-free chocolates and they are RAW!
- Alter Eco-Sells amazing Fair Trade and Direct Source chocolates. This Canadian company also has compostable wrappers!
The Good Guide has a complete list of Canadian Companies that sell Fair Trade chocolate.
- Cocoa Farm-Farm by Nature-Organic cocoa grown by the only cocoa plantation in Australia.
- Cocolo-Organic Trader-Made in Switzerland and Australian owned. This sister and brother team uses organic Fair Trade cocoa.
- Pana Chocolate-Raw, organic chocolate handmade in Melbourne, Australia.
- Chocolatier Australia-Their chocolates are produced in a factory in Heidelberg, Melbourne. Some of their chocolates are certified Fair .Trade
For a complete list of Chocolates available in Australia check out the Shop Ethical guide.
Website:The Good Guide
Website:Centre for Sustainable Systems
Website:CSIS Sustainable Cocoa Farming
Book:Ethical Eating-Angela Crocombe
Website:Eco Friendly Food – Food Guidelines for a Sustainable Environment
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