Winter and chocolate really hit it off, whether you love drinking steaming hot chocolate on cold winter nights or eating chocolate Valentines and Easter eggs. Few food treats can stand up to chocolate as a world favourite, especially in winter. Studies even tell us that we should eat some chocolate each day for its anti-oxidents. Wow! Life couldn’t be better, except for the terrible human and ecological price that comes with most of the chocolate that we buy.
Before you go on, let me assure you that I do not advocate abandoning this delicious product. Hot chocolate was such an integral part of my childhood that I couldn’t consider abandoning it now. But I do know things now that I didn’t then, and that makes all the difference when I buy. For instance, cocoa is one of the world’s most heavily sprayed food crop, but only in the plantations. The problem is that this constitutes the vast majority of chocolate products available in Ontario. The good news is that we can purchase organic chocolate which is both chemical free and delicious. In fact, it’s top bunk.
Ecological footprint, however, is only half of the price to be paid in this equation. Guilt free chocolate has one more hurdle to overcome. People everywhere have the right to live. Just because a product is labeled “organic” does not afford the people who tend and harvest the crop any rights. It simply guarantees the quality of the product.
Which brings me to Fair Trade products. Products which show the Fair Trade logo ensure that producers own their own land, often through cooperatives, have protection against child labour abuses, have decent working conditions and farm in an environmentally sustainable, organic manner. Not bad, but hard to find in Ontario. I know Loblaw’s and Joanne’s Place stock Fair Trade chocolate. Others may as well. Fair Trade organic chocolate packs a great one, two, three punch combination. It is safer to eat, much better for the environment and provides a decent living for the farmers who grow the cocoa. Oh, and its taste is pretty hard to top. For all that, the cost difference is not huge. Instead of $2, a chocolate bar costs $4. That’s a small price to pay for guilt free chocolate.
So, here I am listing one more small thing you can do to help make this a better world. Ask at the store where you buy your chocolates whether they stock Fair Trade chocolate. I guarantee if enough of us ask for it, they will stock it. That’s free enterprise at its best. Give the customer what (s)he wants because it is good business. At the end of the day, the very same free market economy that got us into this mess is exactly the right vehicle to get us out; but now we have our own role to play as advocates for the future.
Now please don’t hang up on me saying, “Too much stuff!” I know this brings my list of things to four, including carrying reusable bags or bins when we shop; turning off the lights during earth hour, 8-9 P.M. on March 29; planting a garden or at least buying local food; and now asking our stores to stock Fair Trade chocolate. If that is too much, then just choose one. All of us don’t have to do everything. If each of us were just to choose one, then together we would make a huge impact. So pick a favourite and do it loud and clear. And that will make all the difference.
If you want to learn more about Fair Trade log onto www.fairtrade.net or www.ifat.org So, happy chocolateering and see you next time.