As a lover of chocolate, I make informed decisions every day about which chocolate I choose. Do I buy a Twix or a Divine Caramel bar? Do I buy a Crispy Crunch or a Green & Black's Crispy Milk? Divine Caramel and Green & Blacks Crispy Milk if you're wondering. The choices I make are driven not just by taste, but by ethics. The issues of palm oil aside (Divine had the caramel made for them specifically because none of the alternatives available were palm oil free), the origins of the cocoa in your chocolate bar are extremely important.
It has already been widelyreported, including on CNN, that children in the Ivory Coast are being forced to work on cocoa farms as virtual slaves, with some reports claiming that children are being kidnapped or have been bought off their parents to work on cocoa plantations. It can be no surprise however, given the low value placed on cocoa. According to CNN, in 1980 the international cocoa price was $3,750 a tonne - - equivalent to $10,000 a tonne in 2013. Nowadays it is considered high at $2,800.
The story isn't completely dire though. There are many, many companies and countries who are working hard at making sure that farming is sustainable, cocoa trees are replanted, and that they treat the land and people well. Green & Black's have done some great things with farmers in the Dominican Republic and Belize including building a new fermentation station, working with farmers on generics and encouraging and helping replanting projects. Green & Blacks may be owned by a huge multinational but they have remained true to their roots. Divine also works with farmers because it is owned by farmers! The Kuapa Kokoo is an amazing story of how tens of thousands of farmers can all come together under one umbrella and improve the livelihood of a country. I have been covering some of these inspiring stories of farmers on my chocolate blog so that everyone can see that cocoa can be positive and profitable.
Wouldn't it be great if, instead of buying the usual, you chose one egg from a company which works with farmers to make change for the better? You don't even have to go any further than your local supermarket to make the change. If you'd like to support farmers and countries doing awesome things with cocoa, ask your favourite chocolate manufacturer if they have Ivory Coast-free chocolate or choose an egg from one of these companies:
Divine - This company is owned by a co-operative in Ghana. They pay better than a fair price for cocoa and work with farmers to ensure education and fairness is maintained. All their chocolate is free from child slave labour.
Green & Black's - This company only sources their chocolate from the Dominican Republic and Belize. They also work closely with farmers and all partners are chosen carefully.
Chococo - Looking for something artisan? Chococo don't use any Ivory Coast chocolate so order anything!
Fortnum & Mason - The chocolate buyer for Fortnum's has assured me that absolutely none of the chocolate that is used in their Easter collection has its origins in the Ivory Coast.
Toot Sweets - Made by hand up in Shrewsbury, this artisan chocolate maker uses some of the best covertures for her eggs and she is really reasonably priced as well.
Demarquette - This mail-order only company doesn't use Ivory Coast chocolate and in fact works with beans sourced direct from Ben Tre in some products.
Melt Chocolates - taking chocolate from all sorts of origins, the eggs in this shop are made from various origins and the shop staff can help you choose a flavour profile that suits you.
La Maison du Chocolat - using Valrhona in all their chocolate (their own special blends) you can rest assured nothing from this chain has Ivory Coast chocolate in it.
Hotel Chocolat Rabot 1745 - The Hotel Chocolat Egg Rabot 1745 is made with Trinidadian and St Lucian cocoa only so the perfect egg to choose
Make a positive change in your life and in the life of a farmer this Easter by choosing to support farmers doing amazing things with cocoa!