What is Fair Trade Chocolate?

broken pieces of a milk chocolate barNothing says holiday hostess gift better than sweet things in a pretty box.

But here’s the dirty little secret behind mass-produced candy: The U.S. State Department estimates that more than 100,000 children work on the African farms where most cocoa is cultivated, and that 10,000 of those are victims of human trafficking and enslavement.

Thankfully, fair trade certified cocoa is slowly but surely making its way into our markets. But what is fair trade, exactly?

Without fair trade, more children will be enslaved on African cocoa farms. But what is fair trade, exactly?

In a nutshell: The manufacturers of fair trade sugar, chocolate and other products typically work in third-world countries to forge economic partnerships that can alleviate poverty, reduce inequality, and create opportunities for farmers and artists—especially women, who produce 76% of fair trade goods.

These businesses combat human trafficking by creating opportunities for parents, so that they don’t resort to selling their children or their children’s labor.

Many fair trade cocoa growers also eschew pesticides like lindane, which was historically used on cacao crops and is now globally banned from use in agriculture because of its potent neurotoxicity.

When you want to make a true impact on your hostess, look fair trade certified organic chocolates. I am obsessed with longtime fair trade chocolate purveyor Theo’s Organic Bread & Dark Chocolate Bar Something about the alchemy of salt, breadcrumbs and dark chocolate gets me every time.



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