At the 14th annual chocolate show in New York this past week, I met several chocolate producers who are just as concerned with environmental preservation and fair pay for cacao (cocoa bean) farmers as they are in making great candy bars. Sadly, chocolate production has a long history of using forced child labor and toxic pesticides in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Lately, however, many upstart chocolate producers are challenging the status quo, and making world-class chocolate bars to delight your conscience as well as your taste buds. Here are four delicious picks.
Grenada Chocolate http://www.grenadachocolate.com/
Grenada sources all of its chocolate from the island nation of Grenada, where members of a farmer’s cooperative grow organic cacao. The beans are turned into chocolate bars with the help of solar-powered processing machines. Mott Green, the devoted founder of the company, doesn’t spend much time away from daily operations, but he said he was happy to be in New York City getting a dose of “culture,” and was excited to talk about the labor-friendly practices behind his award-winning chocolate. To learn more, watch this short film about Grenada called Radical Chocolate http://www.thechocolatechronicles.com/chronicles/2011/09/17/radical-chocolate/.
Gnosis Chocolate http://www.gnosischocolate.com/
Gnosis chocolates are certified organic, and packed with a mix of superfoods and nutrients designed to evoke feelings of “energy,” “vitality,” and even “passion.” Gnosis works directly with cacao farmers, and when I met her, founder Vanessa Barg was off to Indonesia to convene with the farmers in person. Gnosis packaging is recycled and biodegradable, and the company donates a portion of profits to the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation http://www.ftpf.org/, a non-profit that aims to alleviate world hunger and combat global warming by planting fruit trees.
Divine Chocolate http://www.divinechocolateusa.com
The beautiful West African Adinkra symbols that decorate Divine’s bars represent the country of Ghana, Africa, where the bars are made. Divine was created by a cooperative of Ghanaian cacao farmers, with the help of British non-profits (including The Body Shop), and is 45% farmer-owned. Divine is an exemplary company that has its own credit union for farmers, ensures that women farmers have an equal say in company decisions, and adheres to environmentally sustainable production processes.
Kallari Chocolate http://www.kallarichocolate.com/
Kallari chocolate is produced in the Ecuadorian Amazon on small family farms, by an indigenous people known as the Kichwa. With the support of the chocolate business, the Kichwa are able to preserve their traditions, and sustain themselves without having to log the rainforest or sell off their land. All of the profits from sales of these award-winning organic chocolates go back to the Kichwa families to support sustainable development, health, and education programs, and to preserve the rainforest.