Sunday, February 13, 2011

Are your sweets truly sweet, my dear?

Nothing says love more than giving that special someone a heart shaped box full of child labour and pesticides, right?

This time of year especially, the problems of pesticide use and child labour in the chocolate industry are ones some of the large chocolate companies do their best to keep hidden.  They aren't very romantic, feel-good things after all, though they are still significant problems.  Pesticides are used by many producers because cacao trees are very susceptible to disease and damage.  In a world where the demand for chocolate is rapidly outstripping the supply, it's becoming more and more a matter of money to ensure the security of the supply... even if it's not in the best interests (health-wise) of the consumers or the producers.

Fact 1: While major companies are beginning to take initiative to change the way chocolate is grown and harvested... (and thumbs up to them for this,) there is a looong way to go.

Fact 2: There are also a lot of companies who HAVE taken the initiative to ensure that farmers are paid a fair price to take care of their cacao trees organically, and to ensure that child labour is not involved in the harvest.  This used to be a fringe thing, but now there are several companies who are able to boast that they make amazing chocolate, produced to high standards when considered from both gastronomic and ethical perspectives.

Keeping your eyes open for a fair-trade or organic (or ideally, both) certifications on your sweets isn't that hard, is it?  These labels can now be found on chocolates produced by either large or artisinal producers.

I guess in making this post, I'm just trying to point out you can make the loving intention of your gift that much sweeter...  The difference to you when you buy a heart shaped box or bar of chocolate with these certifications might be a few dollars or euros.  It's a small difference in order to ensure that the people who helped make the chocolate you've purchased are treated like human beings who produce a product with value.  At the same time, that little extra you've paid can also help assure you that your gift doesn't contain pesticides (because, for the life of me, I can't think of a gift that says "I love you" more than poison.)

A little more consideration put into the gift, (the way I see it,) is the best kind of Valentine's gesture you can make if you're going to make one.  Everyone wins, and doesn't that feel good?

Whether you've forgotten or not that it's Valentine's tomorrow, try to keep this in mind whenever you're buying chocolate for your loved ones or for yourself.  (Then it'll really be a treat for everyone involved.)

Want more info about how much care and attention (or lack of it) has gone into the making of your chocolates?

This site isn't a bad place to look.

This video provides a pretty clear picture.

Right then.  Enough with the preaching, bring on the warm fuzzies please.

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