At about this time every year I start to dream about chocolate. Winter is ending, and Easter and all its sweet promises are just over the horizon. It’s time to start salivating over chocolate!
But wait – there’s a problem. Like coffee, cocoa beans are often produced under less than ideal conditions. Child slaves in Africa toil to produce the beans that ultimately end up as the chocolate bunnies and creamy eggs found in Easter baskets in Europe and North America. Carol Off’s book Bitter Chocolate delivers a great explanation of this unfortunate issue.
Fortunately not all chocolate is tainted with tears. Fairly traded chocolate to the rescue!
We Canada has made Fair Trade one of the pillars of our Earth Summit 2012 policy recommendations to the Canadian government. We believe that a clear line needs to be drawn between what we buy and how it was produced, and the impact of those decisions around the world. A decision to save a dollar here, could end up creating a myriad of problems elsewhere, as workers and the environment bear the brunt of our discounted prices. Creating indebtedness in other countries’ workers and environment is not a sustainable way to run our economy – and we want to make sure our government gets the picture!
Back in 2001 the Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed by the world’s biggest chocolate makers. Its goal was to end the worst forms of child labour practices used to harvest and grow cocoa beans. Ten years later, Fair Trade certification has been found to reliably identify products that eliminate these practices.
A couple of years ago I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Cadbury’s Dairy Milk solid chocolate bar would pass Fair Trade certification here in Canada. And late last year it was announced that scrumptious Malteasers were also going Fair Trade! The change in both of these products shows how when people speak with their wallets, the businesses listen – and act!
Canada’s Cocoa Camino chocolate is one of the most delicious options when it comes to Fair Trade sweets. From cocoa powder to brown sugar, Camino, which is part of the La Siembra Co-operative, produces everything you need to spike your blood sugar levels. And you can find Cocoa Camino products across Canada with their find a store feature.
Once you have your fairly traded goodies, the rest is up to you. CNN recently held a Fair Trade Chocolate Challenge. I recommend trying out the Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding with Amaretto Custard Sauce.
And for those with gluten sensitivities check out this Flourless Fair-Trade Chocolate Cake!
Whatever your pleasure, be it chocolate, coffee, or another decadent indulgence, please take a moment to think about how that product arrived at your home, who helped put it there, and what you can do to help make their lives, and the world, just a little bit better!
And if you have a favourite Fair Trade Chocolate recipe feel free to post it here. We’d love to take your recipe for a test drive. Let’s make Rio +20 the sweetest earth summit ever!