Chocolate has that melt-in-the-mouth quality that is irresistible. But the process of making chocolates is not as smooth. Cocoa production has been linked to child labor, low wages, slavery, and deforestation. In Ivory Coast and Ghana where the cocoa is grown, smallholder farmers struggle with extreme poverty facing various fluctuations, and 2.1 million children can help tend the crops.
Also, the two key ingredients of chocolates, such as palm oil and soy can lead to global deforestation. Cocoa production has also been linked to things like child labor, slavery, deforestation, and low wages. Although, now there are more and more companies, that are taking steps to clean up their chains and produce 100% certified ethical and sustainable cocoa, however, is there enough? Here is how you can check the different labels to get ethically sourced chocolates.
Check the Label
To start, you have to examine the label. There are companies who describe their chocolate as sustainable or green but those claims are not substantiated by any third-party certification. Not, all eco-labels are equal, though. So, chocolate lovers must ensure that the chocolate company they are buying from fulfills all the said standards, namely that they have certifications from Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, or UTZ. These certifications mean that they decrease the environmental impact of cocoa production and also improve the lives of farmers.
Opt For Dark Chocolates
Certifications are not the only solution for problems that impact the chocolate supply chain. Eating Fairtrade chocolate bars may not improve the lives of cocoa farmers. Only a quarter of the cocoa you get is certified by Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, or organic; farmers who do not have certifications can only sell only a minuscule portion of their cocoa and label them as certified, the rest cater to the regular market.
Also, certifications do little to nothing to minimize the crushing poverty that cocoa farmers face. However, dark chocolate can create a difference as it provides more money per bar that can go to the farmers. So, the darker your chocolate is say 70% darker, the better it is for the farmers and you as well. Dark chocolates are rich in antioxidants so great for your health.
Direct Trade With Farmers
Another way of getting your hands on ethical chocolate is buying from a chocolate vendor with has a direct relationship with the farmers who grow their cocoa, much like how a number of small-scale producers have. These types of producers mainly try the bean-to-bar approach – they work with farmers to get a more sustainable product. Find shops near you that follow the bean-to-bar approach. By doing this, you can gather additional knowledge about the chocolate industry.
Find Out How Companies Are Working Towards Their Goals
Another option is to find out how companies from whom you buy chocolate report their impact on the environment. For that, you have to be a chocolate nerd and a sustainability nerd all rolled into one. This is why you need to work more on how companies are working towards their definitive goals. If the companies come up with a report ensure there is a third-party analyst who may present more of an objective viewpoint.
Follow Sustainable Production Measures
Do your bit for the sustainable chocolate industry by donating to environmental organizations that keep a tab on the big cocoa producers. Some of these environmental organizations include Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth, and Conservation International. Apart from that if you invest in a company that produces chocolate, ensure they follow sustainable production measures. One way companies can tackle poverty is by producing chocolates in countries in the very countries where cocoa is produced.
You can also make a difference by emphasizing sustainability. Most chocolate companies who have pledged to stop the rampant deforestation to reduce palm oil production and add them to chocolates have not kept up with their promises.
The ethical way of producing chocolates is a two-way process, the companies must meet up with their promises and the consumers must be willing to pay a little bit extra to get ethically-sourced chocolates. If you are firm as a consumer and refuse to buy unethically-sourced chocolates, you will finally drive a change that you are willing to see.