I recently visited a chocolate plantation in Costa Rica. Cacao pods lounged in the trees, and workers tended to the plants. I learned a lot by talking with the local expert who showed me around. I learned about the process of making chocolate and about the socioeconomic effects of chocolate consumption worldwide. And I came away with one resolve planted firmly in my heart: don’t buy cheap chocolate. Here’s why.
- Cheap Chocolate Supports Slavery. Remember The Story of Stuff? In the video, she talks about how cheap products are actually subsidized by the people and environment they come from. Chocolate is no different. Cheap chocolate brands, making up about 40% of chocolate production worldwide, are so inexpensive because they employ slavery. “Child slavery keeps costs down, which allows major corporations to keep their chocolate cheap,” says an article in Huffington Post. A good alternative is to find Fair Trade chocolate.
- Cheap Chocolate Isn’t Real Chocolate. Pure chocolate comes from cacao beans alone. The beans naturally contain the oils that are needed to make a creamy, smooth chocolate bar. When quality chocolate is made, the nibs are ground whole and then melted, creating Cocoa Liquor. Big chocolate companies, however, separate the cocoa butter from the cacao. They then sell the cocoa butter to the beauty industry, and substitute the natural cocoa butter with cheap oils like Polyglycerol polyricinoleate.
- Cheap Chocolate Contains Nasty Chemicals. Are you a fan of high fructose corn syrup, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), growth hormones, antibiotics, and artificial flavors and coloring? Yes? Then go ahead and munch on cheap chocolate. If not, stick to higher quality brands.
- Cheap Chocolate is Loaded with Sugar. The companies that sell cheap chocolate want you coming back for more. So, they load their product with one of America’s legal addictive substances: sugar. While it makes you crave more, it’s also destructive to your body. Good-quality dark chocolate contains less sugar than conventional varieties.
- Good-Quality Chocolate is Healthy. High-quality chocolate retains some of the many health benefits of cacao.
- Chocolate is Sacred. The ancient Mayans held Cacao sacred, and imbibed it with ceremony. We, too, can connect with the magic of this food by allowing space for its sacredness to reveal itself. To do so, however, we must respect it by not buying that which has been harvested by slaves and adulterated with chemicals.
The opposite of cheap chocolate is not expensive chocolate! Brands like Godiva charge a higher price for an ostensibly higher quality chocolate, yet they contain the same artificial elements and slave-sources as other cheap brands. Look for “Direct Trade,” “Fair Trade,” and “Rainforest Alliance” chocolates, or buy from an artisan you trust. See “How to Find Slavery-Free Chocolate” for more information on finding good-quality chocolate.
Thanks to Everjean for the photo of chocolate.