Six Fair Trade Chocolate Alternatives
Every time I get groceries, I’m tempted to get a cheap chocolate bar at the checkout stand, AKA the guilt lane. Unfortunately, my personal health concerns aren't the only reason to feel guilty about buying chocolate. Around 2 million children in West Africa are forced into 80-hour work weeks with little pay—or no pay at all—to make most of these chocolate products. Earlier this year, Sarah Beech wrote an article for Dressember about the connection between slavery and chocolate.
With Halloween nearly upon us, I’ve been given the heavy burden of tasting and reviewing fair trade chocolate! I have also listed where to get them and the approximate cost—approximate because they can usually be found online at varying prices.
A couple of notes before we get started:
When you shop for fair trade items, you'll be looking for an official label on the packaging from a third party fair trade organization, recognizing and confirming the manufacturer's efforts to provide fair trade products. However, many manufacturers create and use their own fair trade labels. Perhaps their products are fair trade, but that would require some research. And you have to wonder why those companies made their own labels, instead of going through the proper channels to get an established third party organization's label. Here is an article breaking down several different and legitimate fair trade organizations, what their labels look like, and what the different labels mean. Some organizations have more than one.
The presence of a fair trade label does not guarantee a 100% fair trade product. There are many ingredients and processes that go into making a product, and sometimes only some of those ingredients or processes are certified fair trade. You can often tell this by which label the product bears. The article above discusses this as well.
Tony’s Chocolonely was created to combat slavery instead of to sell chocolate. I’ve tried their dark chocolate bar and their milk chocolate caramel sea salt bar, and both are straightforward and delicious. It tastes higher quality than guilt lane chocolate. It’s no-frills, simple, good chocolate. The wrapper is attractive, reminiscent of Willy Wonka.
Theo Salted Almond Butter Cups (dark chocolate)
Theo makes a good almond butter cup, which I didn’t even know was a thing. But it is, and it’s tasty. I’ve never been a big peanut butter cup fan, but this is almond butter and dark chocolate. Theo also has the rare distinction of the Fair For Life label.
Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Organic 72% Cacao Belgian Dark Chocolate Bar
Yup. I typed the whole name. It’s a good introduction to bitter chocolate. Despite the high percentage of cacao, it’s palatable to the average candy eater. There’s just enough bitterness to give it character, but not enough to make your face scrunch up. I shared it with my roommates and they didn’t blink an eye. But then, they were watching TV...
Divine Chocolate Dark Chocolate with Mint Crisp
Coolly minty, crisp as advertised. The taste lingers in your mouth after you eat it. The mint is refreshing and pushes past the high percentage of cacao more than you’d expect. If either flavor dominates, it’s the mint, but the bitterness of the dark chocolate maintains a solid base beneath the cool tang. It’s a more intense experience with a lot of flavor, for the serious chocolate eater. And there are turtles on the wrapper. What more could you want?
Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company’s No 6 Dark Chocolate Bee-Berry Honey Caramel Bar
I love how long the name of this chocolate bar is. Anyway, when it comes to flavor—woah. This is rich, but it’s truly my favorite of all of these. It’s one of those gooey-on-the-inside chocolates. The blackberries and the honey compliment each other well. Surprisingly, the three flavors present are not too overwhelming to make it enjoyable. And while aftertaste in sweets can be unpleasant or souring, the honey aftertaste here is subtly sweet, as if you’ve just had honey in your tea. So good.
Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds
A solid finish to this series, this salty, almond chocolate bar is going places. It’s hard to believe it’s 72% cocoa, because the sea salt takes the bitterness away completely. This is probably the most widely palatable of the more flavorful entries on this list.
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About the Author
Lucas Moore is a writer in Los Angeles. He likes Neo-noir films, running and cycling, classic American novels, small venue music shows and burritos.