Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Chocolate

Chocolate

Posted by on Apr 20, 2014 in Chocolate, Palm Oil | 0 comments

“Every time you spend money you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” – Anne Lappe

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I have missed the boat with my intended post about sourcing kind Easter eggs but as chocolate is something that I indulge in EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE, I thought a topic on this essential ingredient in life would not be amiss and would fit in with the Easter theme nicely.

Who would have thought that the seemingly innocuous, delicious taste sensation called chocolate would have such a troubled and sinister background.  Until recently, I had not given much thought to where my chocolate had come from. Hence, I have unwittingly supported child exploitation, unfair pay to cocoa farmers, land clearing and deaths of threatened species such as orangutans and gibbons, ridiculous food miles, land fill bound packaging and premature deaths of calves. Sigh.

I want to continue my daily chocolate consumption but only on the proviso that I am no longer financially supporting such dreadful consequences by asking myself………

  Is it Fair Trade Certified ?

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Most of the world’s cocoa is harvested in West Africa where child labour, exploitation and unsafe working conditions are rife.  Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certification ensure that the cocoa is sourced from farmer’s who receive a fair wage and work in good conditions. Appropriate environmental, social and economic standards must also be maintained.

Haighs, Alter Eco, Pana Chocolate, Loving Earth, Rawsome, Daintree Chocolate, Monsieur Truffle,  Cocoa Rhapsody, Bonvita, Cocolo, Spencer Cocoa and Nestle are some of the brands which rate highly in this category but an extensive list of the good, the in between and the bad, can be found here.

Click here to check out World Vision’s very clear synopsis of the big named brands and how they are faring.

World Vision’s “Chocolate’s Bitter Taste” is an interesting read about this topic.

 Is It Dairy Free ?

Not only cruelty free ( re-visit my post on the sad truth behind dairy if you need a reminder) but also the healthiest option – the darker the chocolate, the healthier it is (including lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow,  reducing cholesterol,  being high in antioxidants and improving mood). The more cocoa solids your chocolate contains, the darker it will appear (70% + cocoa content is best). Most mass produced chocolates are made with milk (labelled as milk fat, lactose, whey and other milk derivatives) which makes it creamy and palatable but it inhibits the absorption of the healthy components from cocoa. Here are some wonderful dairy free chocolate options to try ….

Sweet William,  Dark Whittakers,  Lindt Dark Chocolate,  Rawsome,  Daintree Chocolate (using Australian grown cocoa !),  Monsieur Truffle,  Cocoa Rhapsody,  Tropical Source,  Bonvita,  Noble Choice,  Pana Chocolate,  Constant Craving,  Cocolo and  Loving Earth.

Does it contain Palm Oil ?   

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Having travelled to Borneo about 8 years ago and seeing the devastation caused by the world’s greedy desire for palm oil (found in approximately 50% of products on the supermarkets shelves – with chocolate being a significant contributor) first hand, this issue is a big one for me. What used to be beautiful forests and homes to exquisite animals are now just depressing palm plantations as far as the eye can see.  Orangutans have diminshed by 50% in the past 10 years as palm oil plantations destroy their habitat. So tragic and sad.

Palm oil free chocolate includes Haigh’s Chocolate, Whittaker’s, Lindt Excellence and Lindt Creation blocks, Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate blocks – Dairy Milk, Old Gold & Dream, Cradbury Green & Black’s chocolate blocks (except Butterscotch and Raisin & Hazlenut), Choceur, Just Organics and Moser-Roth from Aldi.  Smaller companies  like Pana Chocolates  and Cocolo also need commending for their non palm oil usage.

Menz chocolates and Nestle use Sustainable Palm Oil. My first thought would have been just to boycott any product containing palm oil but, as this enlightening article explains, boycotting is not always the best answer and can sometimes be counter-productive.

I am on a massive learning curve regarding palm oil and which products to avoid as a result of its presence. I have found the following websites / facebook pages to be teeming with information and I am looking forward to the palm oil app (by Palm Oil Investigations) to make my shopping experience that little bit easier. Our government needs to get with the program and ensure “truth in labelling” which is lacking at the moment. Many products containing palm oil use the deceptive description of “vegetable oil”  instead on their ingredient’s list. Until such laws are passed, it is up to us all to do our homework so we can make our own informed decisions.

Palm Oil : Products on Australian Shelves that Contain Palm Oil

Shopping Guide to buying responsibly

Say No to Palm Oil

Having weighed up the plethora of information out there…… The Chocolate Winners…….. who have won my ample future patronage are :

Haigh’s :  If I was more organised / informed this year, I would have bought some dark Easter eggs from here. Palm oil free, Australian, recycled and recyclable packaging, sponsors of the bilby and  UTZ certified and dairy free options available.

Pana Chocolate : Vegan, recycled & biodegradable packaging, Australian made, uses fair trade & organic ingredients and palm oil free. Unfortunately, it will be reserved for the odd treat in my life..I am happy and expect to pay more for an ethical product but at $6.50 for 45 grams there will be no Pana Chocolate binges for me. Tantalising flavours such as Cinnamon and Fig & Wild Orange (get out !) are available. The  Ethical Consumer Guide lists them as an “outstanding product”. 

Cocolo  : Another Ethical Consumer guide “outstanding product”. We have been devouring the mint chip flavour with a vengeance in our house. At around $5-ish for 100g, it will not break the bank but it will have me questioning a 3rd square (for which my hips and thighs will thank me for). Only downside that I can find is the food miles that it clocks up as it is made in Switzerland.

Alter Eco : Vegan options, fair trade and organic certified, use coconut oil rather than palm, not crazy expensive (around $5-ish for 100g) and tried and tested to be delicious (especially the Dark Quinoa – reminds me of “Crunch” chocolate). Again, it has the downside of food miles as it is produced in Switzerland.

Funky Chocolat : This is an Australian company which ticks every single box (ie vegan, palm oil free, Australian made, environmentally friendly packaging) with the added bonus of the fact that the profits go to animal, women and child related charities world wide. It is also, however, in my case anyway, prohibitively expensive but for those who can afford it, this would have to be one of  the most eco friendly chocolate companies around.

Or…….you can always make your own ! I like the look of this one….Vegan Chocolate Vanilla Cream Easter Egg.

 

 

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