The Ultimate Guide to Fair Trade Chocolate
Almost everyone loves chocolate. But do you know what is in the chocolate you are eating? Do you know where it comes from, how it’s made, and what impact it has?
One simple shift we absolutely ADORE here at Passion for Food is switching to buying FAIR TRADE, organic chocolate. There are, however, quite a few points to consider when it comes to determining what type of chocolate person you are; Do you for milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate?
- Did you know that the Fairtrade System currently works with more than 1.65 million farmers across 74 different countries around the world to bring us some of the most delicious chocolates?
- Research shows that here in the UK, we consume about 660,900 tonnes of chocolate, which calculates to 11kg per person — or three bars each week.
Fairtrade chocolate is easier to find than ever and it can often even be cheaper! Below you’ll see our top fair trade picks.
TIP 1: If you can’t find a Fair Trade label look for chocolate sourced from South America, which has a better reputation for how cacao farmers and workers are treated than cacao from Africa, which has the worst documented problems.
TIP 2: Also look for the green Rainforest Alliance stamp, which lets you know that cacao is being grown using environmentally responsible methods. This includes protecting shade trees, planting native species, supporting wildlife corridors, conserving natural resources, and lowering pesticide use.
Cacao, which chocolate is made from (cacao is raw while chocolate is cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures, which destroys many of its natural, medicinal health properties), is a hugely beneficial food to eat!
Cocoa from Bolivia: El Celibo
The creation of chocolate requires very specific environmental conditions with every bar that is produced — which makes Bolivia a great place for production. However, there are six million growers, farmers and processors across Africa, Asia and Latin America to meet the demands of the rest of the world.
Chocolate is the result of hard workers from one of the world’s poorest country; Bolivia. The nation has an estimated population of 10.89 million people and sits alongside Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru.
The entire country has a history of cultivating cocoa, which started in the 1960s, but most growers tend to be from the Alto Beni region. Although many farmers grow cocoa, some have started to grow organic bananas, citrus fruits and vegetables, too.
El Ceibo, which was established in 1977, works with 50 co-operatives across Bolivia and reaches out to around 1,106 men and 194 women farmers from different ethnic groups. As well as this, the majority of the additional money earnt from their own fair-trade cocoa is used to fund technical agricultural support, which is a programme that replaces cocoa plants and deforestation.
A short Fair Trade Chocolate History Lesson
Located on the west coast of Africa, São Tomé is made up of two main islands, as well as several islets, and is often referred to as ‘Chocolate Island’. With a small population of 200,000 people, many residents’ incomes come from cocoa and the island’s signature bean — criollo bean — which has been farmed there since the 1700s.
However, chocolate has a lot more history than you might think. Traidcraft Shop, KEYWORD have provided the following graphic:
Fair Trade Facts: Chocolate Edition
What are the main differences between traditional and raw chocolate?
Raw chocolate usually contains fewer ingredients than traditional chocolate — such as cocoa powder, cocoa butter, coconut blossom sugar, and raw fruit or seeds. Traditional chocolate can contain milk, soya, sugars, sweeteners, soya, and a host of artificial flavourings and preservatives. While Traidcraft’s fair trade chocolate may not be raw chocolate, it’s kept its recipe as natural as possible — fair trade, organic, and free from GMOs, cheap emulsifiers, cheap oils, artificial colours or preservatives.
Here are some of the benefits of cacao (and this isn’t all of them!):
- Benefits your brain health
- Naturally increases “feel-good” hormones such as serotonin while regulating the stress hormone cortisol (a totally cool one-two punch!)
- Packed full of anti-ageing antioxidants
- A great source of magnesium, which women are notoriously low in
- Helps with metabolism, and more.
Did you know?
- The cocoa beans that are used for raw chocolate are never heated above 42 degrees?
- In commercial chocolate, the cocoa beans are roasted at a temperature between 130 and 400 degrees!
- When drying cocoa beans for raw chocolate, some cocoa growers just leave their beans outdoors to dry naturally in the sunlight!
What are the main differences between cocoa and cacao?
Believe it or not, but Cocoa and cacao are technically the same things. Though the words cocoa and cacao are often used interchangeably, generally cocoa is the term used for cacao that’s been fermented, dried, and roasted at high temperatures. It’s then pressed until all the oils are separated and the solids that remain can be turned into a dry powder — cocoa powder. Cacao powder is made in a very similar way but at a far lower temperature.
Where is cocoa originally grown?
The Theobroma Cacao has been used throughout time for nutritional and medicinal benefits and is native to Central America. This scientific name for the tree actually translates as ‘food of the gods’. These trees produce pods which contain 20-40 cacao beans — and it’s these beans that eventually get turned into chocolate. Theobroma Cacao trees grow most successfully in a narrow band called the Cocoa Belt or the Chocolate Belt. This band extends up to 20 degrees north and south of the equator.
Was chocolate worth more than gold?
Back in the Mayan period, cocoa beans were worth more than gold and were even used as currency! The Mayans maintained the value of cocoa beans by restricting the harvesting of the beans.
Have cocoa farmers ever tasted chocolate?
The majority of cocoa farmers have never tasted chocolate. Beans are shipped almost instantly as if chocolate was created in these typically warm countries, it would melt! Many cocoa farmers will have never tasted chocolate in their lives. In 2017, Traidcraft hosted Linda, a cocoa farmer from the co-operative Kuapa Kokoo (and who grows fair trade cocoa for the Divine Chocolate Company), and she reminded us that any chocolate left lying around in Ghana would just melt anyway!