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7 Jul

The Dark Side of Chocolate

I LOVE chocolate. I don’t just enjoy a Dairy Milk here and there or the odd brownie if I’m feeling gluttonous – I REALLY REALLY LOVE chocolate – I’m not sure if I can state this enough. It’s a full-blown obsession which, if I’m honest, friends and family are a little bit worried about.

I’ve been known to eat an entire Easter egg and its additional four chocolate bars in one sitting (which, to my horror, totalled around 4,000 calories – let’s not talk about that) and my Instagram feed is littered with posts from bakeries and foodporn pages across the globe (and the odd sausage dog, of course).  

Until recently, I’d been happily munching away on my favourite treats without a care in the world, other than how many hill sprints I’d have to do in my Barry’s class later to even things out.  

Did you know that right now, slavery is a huge problem on cocoa farms in West Africa? I didn’t.  

This is a direct result of the unequally divided cocoa chain. The chain starts with millions of farmers who produce cocoa and ends with the billions of consumers, like you and I, who enjoy chocolate. But what about the grey area in the middle? This is dominated by a handful of chocolate giants that profit from keeping the price of cocoa as low as possible. As a result of this, cocoa farmers are forced to live in poverty.  

2.5 million cocoa farming families in Ghana and the Ivory Coast produce more than 60% of the world’s cocoa, earning, on average, just 67 euro cents a day – nowhere near enough to support a family. Because of this, 2.1 million children work under illegal conditions to help support their parents. 

So, what can you do to support fair cocoa trade? Make sure you’re looking for Fairtrade Certified products whilst choosing your snacks for tonight’s Netflix box set binge – it’s a small change that will work towards making a big difference to the lives of cocoa farmers and their families around the world. Fairtrade helps to make cocoa farming more sustainable by guaranteeing minimum prices and providing a premium to invest in local communities, so farmers can provide a better future for themselves and their families. So, if you think about it, by buying and eating Fairtrade chocolate, you’re actually technically doing a really good deed, and you should eat a lot more of it? Yep, I’m sold.

The really good news is, plenty of our favourite snacks are already Fairtrade Certified praise the chocolate Gods! I’ve put together a list of some of the best (in my humble, chocolate connoisseur opinion) so we can all indulge together whilst making the world a better place.  

Malteasers

The UK’s third largest chocolate brand was Fairtrade Certified in 2013, meaning we can enjoy the honeycomb-centred balls of joy without a pang of guilt. Okay, maybe not when you eat the entire family Christmas sharing tub every year like me.  

Mars

After taking Malteasers Fairtrade in 2013, Mars Chocolate UK rolled out its first Fairtrade Certified Mars Bars in 2015. Did you know, 3 million Mars Bars are produced every day in the UK? Somebody take me to the factory and dump me in the caramel vat, please. Oh, and if you don’t keep your Mars Bars in the fridge, you’re doing it wrong.  

Tony’s Chocoloney

A lesser known brand but one that is doing a lot for the Fairtrade movement, as well as being absolutely delicious, Tony’s Chocoloney has been Fairtrade certified since its launch 14 years ago. Committed to making the chocolate industry 100% slave-free, the chunky bars come in a range of flavours, from Pretzel Toffee to White Chocolate & Raspberry. Once you unwrap the brightly coloured paper, you won’t find the usual uniform squares – the bar is unevenly divided to reflect the inequality in the chocolate industry. Also a handy way to accidentally lose track of exactly how much you’ve eaten 

KitKat

Our favourite four finger wafers were Fairtrade Certified in 2009, closely followed by the inferior two finger variation in 2013 (come on, is two really enough for anyone?) Pro tip: dip your KitKat in a cup of tea and thank me later.  

Green & Black’s Organic

If you’re a lover of dark chocolate like me (I’m yet to find a chocolate I’m not a lover of to be honest), you’ll be glad to learn that all of Green & Black’s Organic chocolate bars are Fairtrade Certified. In 1994, the brand’s Maya Gold was the first chocolate in the UK to be awarded the Fairtrade mark, and they’ve been paving the way for ethically sourced cocoa ever since. With a decadent portfolio of 19 different dark, milk and white chocolate flavours, I’d advise trying every single one just to be sure you’re not missing out. My personal favourites are the devilishly intense 85% Dark and gorgeously creamy Madagascan Vanilla White.  

Ben & Jerrys

Okay so, not strictly chocolate but how could I leave these guys off the list? Back in 2005, Ben & Jerry’s was the first ice cream maker in the world to use Fairtrade Certified ingredients, and by 2011, made sure that every possible ingredient was Fairtrade Certified. Rest assured that those yummy little phish in your Phish Food and polar bears in your Baked Alaska (news flash, after a five year hiatus – BAKED ALASKA IS BACK) are most definitely ethically sourced.  

So, I implore you all to pop to the shops right now and purchase all the Fairtrade Certified choccie you can find – for research purposes, obviously.  
Sophie Charlesworth
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