Big Green Purse Tip of the Day – Be a Responsible Chocolate Consumer

Posted on April 24, 2008 by Allie

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No, I’m not talking about how much chocolate you eat. That’s up to you. I’m talking about the kind of chocolate you purchase. Here’s why it’s incredibly important to make responsible chocolate choices. From Big Green Purse:

“. . . cocoa growing is now responsible for 14 percent of the deforestation in the rain forests of West Africa and a large percentage of the deforestation in South America, reports Sierra magazine.”

The book says that Americans spend $13 billion per year on cocoa products, but many of the people working on cocoa plantations earn between $30 and $100 dollars a year.  If that weren’t bad enough, 40% of all cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast, and is about 35% of the export income from that region.

“This money does not come morally. Hundreds of thousand of children are enslaved on cocoa farms, reports the U.S. State Department. Since a military coup in 1999, Ivory Coast has been wrenched by political instability and, more recently, a civil war that both sides fund through cocoa sales. “

The bad news is that what Big Green Purse calls “blood cocoa” is imported into the U.S. and Europe by the major chocolate brands you’re probably used to purchasing.

The good news is that by purchasing Fair Trade Certified chocolate, you are making a responsible purchase that supports fair labor practices, and more sustainable farming. The best way to go is buying chocolate and cocoa that is certified organic AND Fair Trade Certified. Then you will know that the cocoa used in making your chocolate was grown free of pesticides, which is better for you and the environment.

Go for quality, not quantity when it comes to chocolate, and you won’t notice the difference in price. A few squares of really good chocolate is more satisfying than a whole bag of M&Ms anyway.

I’ve tested a lot of Fair Trade chocolate for this site (What I don’t do for you people!). My all time favorite is AlterEco Dark Blackout ChocolateAlterEco makes great milk chocolate too, if you’re not into dark chocolate.

bgp-100×100.jpgExcerpted with permission from Diane MacEachern, author, Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World,  www.biggreenpurse.com.Want to get your hands on a copy of Big Green Purse? There’s a givaway!Sign in with a valid e-mail address to comment on the Big Green Purse Tip of the Day posts from Monday, April 21st through Friday, April 25th. For each comment, you’ll get an entry (one per day, please). The giveaway will close on Sunday, April 27th, at noon (Eastern), and I’ll draw a name out of a hat to determine the winner. The winner will be announced on Monday, April 28th. Comments that appear to be spam will not be counted. Good luck!

CONTEST CLOSED — SUNDAY APRIL 27th  

No Comments +

  1. Wow, I didn’t realize that was going on. I always purchase my tea fair trade, but I never gave chocolate a second thought. This is a great reason to give up my reese’s peanut butter cup obsession. I’m sure my hips will thank me also!

    April 24th, 2008 at 3:17 pm
    Comment by Danielle
  2. I didn’t realize this either. Yes, this will definitely curb my desire to buy chocolate on impulse while in line at the store. I’ll have to seek out better options…

    April 24th, 2008 at 3:37 pm
    Comment by Nicole
  3. Why do I have this sneaking suspicion that my Indiana Jones Snickers are not made from Fair Trade chocolate? Thanks for the tip; I do (sadly) eat a lot of chocolate, so this is important to know.

    April 24th, 2008 at 3:38 pm
    Comment by Aaron
  4. I also had no idea but, sadly, I’m not surprised.

    You are absolutely right about the quality over quantity. A little bit of the good stuff goes a long way.

    April 24th, 2008 at 3:53 pm
    Comment by mickey
  5. Before reading Big Green Purse, I didn’t know anything about the child labor/conflict issues of chocolate either. I was buying fair trade for the basic fair wages and environmental reasons, but now I have all the more reason.

    And honestly, Aaron, try AlterEco. I don’t think you’ll miss your Snickers (even if they are Indiana Jones special editions ones).

    April 24th, 2008 at 4:36 pm
    Comment by Allie
  6. This is news to me. Thanks for the tip.

    April 24th, 2008 at 5:12 pm
    Comment by Jennifer
  7. I whole heartedly support this boycott of major american chocolate brands. after going on a tour of the Hershey’s plant in PA, I was literally stunned for hours after. the overwhelming mass of milk, cocoa, and other crap to make MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of gallons of chocolate is totally unsustainable and unhealthy.

    i wrote a blog about it along time ago on Friendster, which I just canceled, so I can’t share the statistics I gleaned from it all…drat.

    April 24th, 2008 at 5:32 pm
    Comment by erikka
  8. oh and ps. Dagoba is one of my FAVORITE chocolates. i have a new moon bar waiting to be eaten on the next new moon, which happens to be May 5, which happens to be MY birthday. Very cosmic.

    April 24th, 2008 at 5:33 pm
    Comment by erikka
  9. This is so good to know. I’ve never paid attention to the chocolate brands I buy, and since I eat so much dark chocolate, I probably should be a bit more cognizant.

    April 24th, 2008 at 9:01 pm
    Comment by The Modern Gal
  10. good thing I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. what does that book have on wine — do I dare ask?

    April 24th, 2008 at 11:38 pm
    Comment by kir
  11. Although not certified as such, Black & Green is EXCELLENT chocolate that follows fair trade practices. Endangered Species is another great chocolate bar and contributes a percentage to-Endangered Species around the world.

    April 25th, 2008 at 1:17 pm
    Comment by Equa Yona
  12. Did anyone go to the travelling Chocolate museum exhibit a few years back? I saw it at the Chicago Field Museum and left with a really bad taste in my mouth (pun intended). They had a display showing a happy West African family on a cocoa plantation. I had just seen a tv show that showed almost ALL cocoa from West Africa is grown using slave labor. Seriously disgusting.
    I am a chocolate snob, so I don’t have a problem buying the boutique fair trade chocolates. I’m not always as careful as I should be, though. Thanks for the reminder!

    December 8th, 2008 at 7:40 pm
    Comment by Jess

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Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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