Deep Green Chocolate Love

Photo: istockphoto.com/Liza McCorkle

Your sweetheart deserves the best and shouldn't be popping chemicals along with Valentine bon-bons. Buying fair trade, organic chocolates spreads the love around.

Your sweetheart deserves the best and shouldn't be popping chemicals along with Valentine bon-bons. Buying fair trade, organic chocolates spreads the love around.

Nasty chemicals
According to the Pesticide Action Network conventional cocoa is second only to conventional cotton in its use of pesticides. A typical acre of cotton receives 2.65 kilograms (5.85 pounds) of chemicals, so you can imagine how much chocolate is using.

There are at least 30 pesticides used in the growing of cocoa, some of which, such as aldicarb and azinphos methyl, are considered extremely toxic. Lindane, also know as gamma-HCH, has been banned in many countries but still shows up in many European conventional chocolate.

Many manufacturers are trying to follow recommendations from the FDA that keeps pesticide residue within the EPA's established tolerances. But do you really want any chemicals in your chocolate?

Nasty labour practices
To date more than 75 percent of the chocolate consumed by North Americans comes from Africa's Ivory Coast. The vast majority of the 600,000 cocoa farmers on this coast live in abject poverty despite producing such a highly sought after product. Children of these farmers spend their days picking cocoa instead of going to school.

No matter how much you love chocolate, do you want to buy something created by unwilling child labour? You help change this system of exploitation simply by purchasing Fair Trade organic chocolate. Project Hope & Fairness has a started a foundation to help these farmers and promote fair trade co-operatives.

Other nonprofit groups like Global Exchange and the International Labor Rights Fund are going after Nestlé's U.S. subsidiary company and commodity traders Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Cargill. The suit charges Nestlé, Cargill and ADM with making false claims that the problem of child slave labour on cocoa farms has been resolved and the problem eradicated.

Certified healthy
Organic cocoa is cultivated on small plots under a shade canopy without destruction of the land. Bio-diversity is maintained along with the winter habitat of millions of migratory songbirds.

Organic certification ensures that your chocolate is free from pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. It's also a guarantee that any milk powder used is free of rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), an artificial hormone given to cows to increase their milk production. Organic also means that no other ingredients have been genetically modified either — an important consideration with the growing number of allergies.

Plenty of choices
Organic chocolate also tastes better. Best of all it's relatively easy to find. Many supermarkets and speciality shops now carry organic, fair trade chocolate.

Equita Fair Trade Chocolate is produced by Oxfam Fair Trade, whose sole mission is to promote ethical consumption and counter the effects of globalization.

Get decadent but guilt-free ganache, bon-bons, toffees and bars certified organic and fair trade from Lillie Belle Farms.

Dagoba's exotic blends like Citrus-Macadamia Tango or Raspberries-Rosehips make the perfect romantic gift.

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates and SLO Chai have joined forces to create Chai Chocolates with the delicious flavour of chai tea combined with dark chocolate. Sweet Earth even has a Valentine's extra special — one dollar from the sale of each bag will be donated to Project Hope & Fairness.

Other choices

  • Cocoa Camino
  • Divine Chocolate
  • Endangered Species Chocolate Company
  • Equal Exchange
  • Green & Black's
  • Newman's Organic Chocolate
  • Rapunzel Pure Organics, Inc.
  • Sjaak's Organic Chocolate
  • Terra Nostra
  • Theo Chocolate
  • Yachana Jungle Chocolate
  • Anne Colvey just moonlights as a writer — her real profession is being a Chocoholic.