Chocolate is undeniably one of the most popular treats around, and one of the most widely available. But do you ever stop and think about where that chocolate comes from and how it’s made? While you may be used to choosing organic produce, you might not be familiar with the differences between organic chocolate and conventional chocolate. What’s really the difference? Let’s dive into some of the details of what makes our organic chocolate worth reaching for!
First, organic chocolate is healthier for farmers.
Behind every bar of chocolate are two key agricultural products: cacao and sugar. Conventional chocolate uses cacao and sugar can be grown with the aid of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and more. These chemicals have been linked to numerous negative health effects, and most farmers lack the kind of protective gear that would help mitigate some risk of exposure. Organic chocolate, however, means that cacao and sugar are produced without the use of these harmful chemicals. Instead, farmers use biodynamic and organic fertilizers and pest deterrents. These natural agricultural products are better for both the crops and the farmers who grow them, allowing their work to thrive without putting their health and the health of their communities at risk.
Second, organic chocolate is better for the environment.
The chemicals involved in the cacao and sugar production for conventional chocolate have a negative effect on the environment, too. Pesticides, fungicides and herbicides are designed to kill unwanted insects and plants, but usually end up eliminating important complementary species from farms, throwing off the delicate balance of local ecosystems. Chemicals leech into the soil and water, affecting plant and animal life even beyond the treated area. Organic chocolate is made from cacao and sugar that is grown without these synthetic chemicals, on farms that use natural, organic and biodynamic tools to cultivate these crops. Organic methods are good for biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment — and choosing organic chocolate means supporting these alternative means of production.
Lastly, organic chocolate is better for you!
In choosing organic chocolate, you are choosing to eat a food that is made without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and other chemicals. While we may not think of chocolate as an agricultural product in the same way as the fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle, we can think of the benefits of organic production in a similar way. Why consume the added chemicals of conventional chocolate when you don’t have to? Enjoy the chocolate made from cacao and sugar grown with care by small farmers.
It’s important to make informed decisions about the products we buy, the things we eat and the systems we support. Choosing organic chocolate means giving your purchase power to a system that values your health, the health of farmers and the health of the environment. Now unwrap a bar and enjoy!
In January, fellow Equal Exchange co-owner Laurie Foote and I were on a plane…13 March 2017