Whether offered as a gift or enjoyed on a dessert date, chocolate and Easter go hand in hand. But do you know where the chocolate you buy is coming from? The cacao business is one of the least transparent and most problematic food industries, with unfair international trade deals in many regions, illegal work conditions including child labor, and the use of highly destructive palm oil. But never fear: there are many chocolate products that adhere to ethical practices. Chocolate should, and can, be made from high quality, ethical ingredients and produced locally or under fair trade agreements.
Here are ten of the most indulgent yet ethical chocolate experiences to be had this Easter:
1. Responsible Chocolate Making in Brooklyn, NY
Using fair trade methods and organic products wherever possible, Raaka Chocolates are hand-made in Brooklyn. Raaka wrap their delicacies in 100% recycled paper, printed with soy ink. They even donate their cacao husks to the local elementary school for gardening. They make lots of vegan, gluten/soy/nut free products, offer a truffle box for Valentine’s Day, and also run a popular chocolate “subscription” program, First Nibs: click here to find out more.
2. Ride through Cloudforest To An Organic Chocolate Farm In Ecuador
In the stunning surrounds of South American Ecuador, Freedom Bike Rental’s seven-day biking tour involves a magical ride through cloudforests to an organic cacao factory, replete with tour and sampling. The trip also features rides through rainforests, grasslands and deserts. Sure, the next trip’s not until June, but why not surprise your Valentine with your plans now? Click here to find out more.
3. Savor Heirloom Cocoa From Madagascar
USDA certified organic and free trade, Madécasse chocolates are crafted bean-to-bar in the remote island country of Madagascar. Located 200 miles of the East African coast, Madagascar sports some of the world’s purest and most delectable cacao, and the beauty of Madécasse is that the final product is produced locally, too.
4. Attend Chocolate University In Seattle
Theo’s chocolate, operating out of Seattle, was the first approved organic and fair trade chocolate factory in the US. They also run decadent chocolate-making classes at their “Chocolate University”. Or if you just want to see how their chocolate is made (and taste some!) they also run factory tours every day; click here to find out more.
5. Not Just For Eating: Chocolate For Your Skin
Though you’re unlikely to tire of edible ethical chocolate, you may want to treat the rest of your body, too. Clenapure’s Choconutmint sugar body polish is made with responsible, organic dark chocolate, to luxuriously buff your skin. Valentine’s Day is about all kinds of indulgences, right?
6. Farm To Table Chocolate In Washington, DC
Producing some of the most delicate and indulgent chocolate truffles and bon bons around, SPAGnVOLA run their own vertically-integrated local farm and factory. Their head chocolatier, Crisoire, hails from the Dominican Republic and focuses on Caribbean products and practices. They also offer free tours on the weekends, including Valentine’s Day; click here to find out more.
7. A Solar-Powered Chocolate Kitchen On A Maine Island
Located on the remote Maine island of Isle-au-Haut, Black Dinah offer up single-origin, fair trade chocolates, with most ingredients sourced from local farms. Winners of many awards including Dessert Professional Magazine’s Top 10 Chocolatiers in North America, they provide several vegan options and even power their kitchen using solar energy. They have lots of gorgeous Valentine’s gift sets; click here to find out more.
8. Dominican Cacao In Vermont
Having travelled to the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2001, Matt Birong has developed a relationship with locals, specifically at a cacao collective. Since then, he has established himself as an ethical chocolatier, bringing cacao in from DR and crafting his Kerchner Artisan Chocolate. His ethical Project Reserva bars are made exclusively for his Vermont cafe, 3 Squares, and the University of Vermont.
9. Go Fair Trade With Equal Exchange
Having established fair trade agreements with cacao producers in Peru, Paraguay, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, Equal Exchange offer up trustworthy and delectable chocolate products which range from standard bars to hot chocolates to cookies. Their wares are available in some retail stores, as well as their cafes in Boston and Seattle; click here to find out more.
10. Spice Things Up With Aztec Hot Cocoa
Don’t just limit yourself to truffles and bars; you can drink your Valentine’s chocolate, too. Fair trade USA certified and vegan, Vermont company Lake Champlain’s Aztec hot chocolate is fired up with touches of cinnamon, cayenne and a dash of vanilla. What could be more appropriate on Valentine’s Day?
Do you have a suggestion for ethical chocolate gifts or experiences this Valentine’s Day? Please share in the comments below.
By Gemma King
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