I spend a lot of time researching food items. When I’m researching a food item I am interested in its health benefits, but also its impact on our planet and the people and animals that live on it. Last week, I was confronted with the ethical issues that are related to chocolate and decided to take action.
As you all know chocolate is made from cacao. Most of the cacao we eat is grown in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Indonesia. Sadly, the production of cacao is related to child and forced labor. I won’t go into all the details, but I do want you to know one thing. Even though there are certain certifications you can look for when buying chocolate (Fairtrade, UTZ certified and Rainforest Alliance) there is NO WAY to know for sure that your chocolate is made without child and/or forced labor since the origin of cacao is almost impossible to trace. As a result, even companies such as Tony Chocolonely aren’t able to guarantee 100% child and forced labor free chocolate.
Let that sink in for a minute.
So should we stop buying chocolate all together? Well, we can start by acknowledging the ethical issues that come with buying chocolate and start spreading the word to our family and friends. Secondly, we can limit our chocolate intake and start treating it as a luxury and not a necessity like fruits and vegetables. Thirdly, we can (if we do decide to buy chocolate) spend our money on chocolate that is organic and has been certified. That way we can show companies like Tony Chocolonely, Lovechock, and Seed and Bean that we appreciate and support their efforts for a more fair and sustainable cacao trade.
What about health?
Apart from the ethical issues, there are a few health-related reasons to limit chocolate in your diet:
- Chocolate is high in calories and can, therefore, contribute to unwanted weight gain;
- Chocolate contains high amounts of saturated fat and can, therefore, increase your chances for heart and vascular disease.
New challenge: a week without chocolate
As you know by now I am a big fan of challenges AND I know you love them too! So this week I have a new challenge for you: a week without chocolate (or any other products that contain cacao). By taking chocolates off the menu you are forced to find new food items to eat when you are craving something sweet. Also, by removing it from your diet you become aware of the amount of chocolate you actually eat.
I would also recommend using this challenge to do your own research on cacao production. You can watch this documentary or read this article. Have a look at the chocolate you usually buy: is it certified? If not, what brands can you buy instead?
If you want to get social you can use the hashtag #zerochocolatechallenge on Instagram and share how you are doing with this challenge.
Don’t forget to have fun!
PS Let me know in the comments if you are joining the challenge. I love hearing from you!