Thursday, January 3, 2013

3 Chocolates Making a Difference

When we think of decadent indulgence, we often think of chocolate.  And with the antioxidants present in dark chocolate, this indulgence (in moderation, of course) has some health benefits, as well.  But there is a growing trend in the world of chocolate towards offering products that are socially and environmentally responsible, as well.  Below are three chocolate companies that promote fair trade practices and use organic ingredients.  All products are available at most Whole Foods locations, as well as online and at many independent health food stores.

Theo Chocolate
Seattle based Theo Chocolate was the first producer of organic chocolate in the United States.  Prior to the company’s launch in 2006, all organic chocolate available in the U.S. was imported, primarily from Europe. Theo prioritizes fair trade practices, and purchases its cocoa directly from farmers and farmer co-operatives.  The company also strives to maintain long-term relationships with farmers, in order to support the economic health of the communities in which the farmers live and work.  And the ingredients for the chocolate bars are cultivated using sustainable farming practices.
Theo uses only simple, natural ingredients.  The chocolate doesn’t contain emulsifiers like soy lecithin, which many chocolate companies use to add artificial creaminess to their products.  The result is a bar with an intense cocoa flavor – perfect for the chocolate purist.

Equal Exchange Chocolate
Equal Exchange is a Massachusetts company that offers a range of fair trade, organic products including chocolate bars, coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, olive oil, and almonds.  The cocoa is sourced from farmer co-operatives in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru, and Ecuador.  Similarly, the sugar comes from co-operatives in Paraguay.  Even the vanilla, from Madagascar, is fair trade.
In addition to being organic and ethically sourced, Equal Exchange bars cater to the chocolate connoisseur.  They are produced using the same methods made famous by the Swiss, resulting in a gourmet bar that will win over the toughest chocolate snobs.

Alter Eco Chocolate
Like Equal Exchange, San Francisco based Alter Eco offers a variety of fair trade, organic products.  Alter Eco works exclusively with small-scale farmers to ensure equitable trading relationships.
The company works with chocolatiers in Switzerland, but with flavors like dark quinoa chocolate, its bars are sure to appeal to the health nut as much as the chocoholic.

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