Green Tip {Tuesday}

Be sweet to mother earth. Behind dark and delicious bits of chocolate lay some unfortunate environmental truths.

About 70% of the cacao beans used to make our sweet indulgence are grown in Africa, specifically Cote d' Ivoire and Ghana. With a small percentage being grown in South America, the Caribbean and Indonesia. In all of these regions, child labor is an issue. A group of studies in 2002 by the International Labour Organization found that 284,000 children were working in unsafe conditions on cacao farms throughout Cote d' Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria. These children, from age 6 to 17, were found handling toxic pesticides (the most common being Lindane, a toxic organochlorine cousin of DDT), machetes, and working long hours.

Traditional farming practices are also damaging precious rainforests. The World Watch Institute claims that cocoa farming alone has destroyed 13% of the original forest in Cote d' Ivoire.

Thankfully the chocolate industry is taking the necessary steps to reduce child labor and the environmentally harmful farming practices. But you can do your part- look for chocolate with a fair trade certification. Fair trade means that a neutral, international system has certified that the farmers received a reasonable minimum price for their goods. It also prohibits child labor and promotes sustainable practices that often resemble organic farming. The price of fair trade chocolate can be higher, the increase is the direct result of the higher wage the farmer receives as well as the farmers costs for the inspection and certification.

These are the favorites in my home and are readily available in retailers. I usually buy all my chocolate at either Whole Foods or Target:
Dagoba Organic Chocolate {all of their dark chocolates are vegan}
Endangered Species
Newman's Own Organics
Green and Black's Organic {this UK brand is my personal favorite}

photo via:: flickr