Not all chocolate is created equal, especially when it comes to ethics. Many unaware buyers may be purchasing sweet treats made by less-than-savory methods — but there’s hope.
Says Arthur Gillett, research director at HowGood, a ratings tool that helps buyers purchase more sustainable eats, “Shoppers are craving real, healthy, tasty food. Organic, strong tasting, fair trade chocolate is a gateway to that real food, a way to spend a little more on something we already give ourselves permission to splurge on.”
Luckily, that’s just what the following Brooklyn businesses provide:
Nunu Chocolates in Brooklyn is all about ethics, sustainably sourcing cacao from a small family farm in Colombia for their homemade treats. Walk into their new Nunu Chocolates Cafe & Tap Room in Park Slope and you’ll find local artwork and furniture crafted from recycled materials — perfect for sitting down to savor a structured craft beer or wine and chocolate pairing. Bonus: Many of the beverages are local to BK!
The word at Mast Brothers in Williamsburg is “sustainability.” The owners, brothers Michael and Rick Mast, keep close relationships with the small organic farmers they work with, ensuring quality and conscience in every single estate and single origin bar. In their open factory you can take a free sample and watch chocolate makers turn beans into bars made with just cacao and cane sugar, although sometimes they incorporate other artisan products like the also sustainability-focused Stumptown Coffee, passionate about direct trade and supply chain transparency.
3. Fine & Raw
Located in the alternative arts neighborhood of Bushwick, Fine & Raw focuses on raw (cooked below 140 degrees Fahrenheit) and half raw/half roasted chocolate, as many believe less heat keeps the chocolate’s healthy antioxidants intact. Conservation is important, and Fine & Raw donates their excess cacao husks to local farms for composts, produce mostly their own ingredients (like their nut butters!), recycle, use LED factory light and source from small sustainable businesses they have formed relationships with. They also have an open tasting room with free samples, and a cafe with concoctions like signature chocolate shots, mochas and chocolate-coffee “shakes.” One must-try treat is the Bonbon: essentially chocolate stuffed with even more chocolate.
Located in Industry City, a hub for artisan culture on Brooklyn’s waterfront, Liddabit Sweets sources ingredients mainly from local purveyors like Brooklyn Brewery, Crown Maple Syrup and Brooklyn Roasting Company, opting for organic and Fair Trade whenever possible. Beyond the care that goes into making the candies themselves, Liddabit takes community involvement and sustainability seriously, offering living wages and benefits to their employees and working with local charities like City Harvest, Just Food and God’s Love We Deliver on an ongoing basis. For a fun and sweet experience, they offer factory tours — including free hot cocoa and cookies! — and decadent cooking classes.
One Brooklyn-based chocolatier worth supporting is Madecasse, who are passionate about keeping production in the country of origin. They focus on chocolate and vanilla from Madagascar, and consider themselves a social enterprise just as much as a food producer. They source from small farming cooperatives, pay a premium for their cocoa, hire Malagasy people for above-market wages, plant near-extinct cocoa varieties and encourage forest growth through their farming methods. You can purchase bars from their office in the former Pfizer building on Flushing Avenue, or head to Whole Foods Market. They also offer visits to groups interested in topics like sustainable business and conscious capitalism. Opt for the Sea Salt & Nibs, featuring 63% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs and a touch of sea salt.
Bonus: Download Food Empowerment Project’s Free App
To help ensure cacao lovers are shopping sustainably, Food Empowerment Project created a free app for both iOS and Android that guides people toward ethical chocolate choices. Users can search two ways, either by scrolling the alphabetical list or by company name. The project questioned and researched hundreds of chocolate makers to learn more about their ethical standards, and sorted these manufacturers into recommended and not recommended categories. Moreover, users can provide their own chocolate recommendations and “favorite” their beloved brands.
This post originally appeared on Drive the District
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