The Sweetest Chocolate

Before you reach for that heart-shaped box of chocolates for your sweetie this week, think twice: Could your love-inspired gift be less sweet than it appears? According to the web site of the consumer group Center for the New American Dream, most chocolate sold in the U.S. comes from Africa’s Ivory Coast, and is produced under less-than-ideal conditions.

Consumer groups and environmental organizations often point to problems of child labor – and even, according to many reports, slave labor – in chocolate factories. It’s strenuous work making chocolate, and exposure to pesicides can also pose hazards (for people and wildlife). Chocolate is generally grown on clear-cut farmland that used to be rainforest: According to newdream.org, by 2000 14 percent of Ivory Coast’s rainforest had been clearcut to make way for cacao farms.

But not all chocolate is made this way. There are plenty of fair trade, organic chocolate makers who produce unbelievably delicious chocolate without harming the environment or workers and their families. Show your love for your honey and the planet by buying Dagoba, Newman’s Own, Green & Black’s, Endangered Species Chocolate, or any of the dozens and dozens of other organic or fair trade chocolate available at your local natural food store or supermarket. 

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