Alisa Fleming, www.GoDairyFree.org ~ One of the most beloved crops our great earth has bestowed upon us is the sacred cocoa bean. We have praised it in desserts and are now enjoying a good nibble or two each day in the name of healthy snacking. But, in the name of Earth Day Every Day, I think considering the source of our chocolate is becoming ever more important. Organic, Vegan, and Fair Trade are becoming the medals of honor in the cacao industry, and these companies are gladly stepping forward to accept an award or three …
Endangered Species is a personal favorite, as I can pick up one of their many (vegan) dark chocolate bars at just about any grocery store these days. I haven’t identified a fair trade stamp on these beauties yet, but they do have a sizable new line of organic chocolate bars and they do donate 10% of net profits to “help support species, habitat and humanity.” When we are talking Earth Day (or should I say “Earth Day Awareness Month”), this definitely counts for something. I confess that the non-organic Deep Forest Mint bar with the apes/monkeys on the front (naturally) continues to be our household favorite, but as they add flavors to the organic line, I am being pulled to the conscious side.
Theo Chocolate boasts that they are the “first roaster of organic fair trade cacao in the U.S.” I am not really sure what this means, but it sounds really impressive! They also have a wonderful vegan line, including their intensely dark Origin line, and some interesting creations in their 3400 Phinney line … Fig, Fennel, and Almond Dark Chocolate anyone?
Sjaak’s Organic Chocolate was recently honored with a Fair Trade certification. They have a very extensive line-up of vegan chocolates, in the form of boxed chocolates, bites, and bars. If you are looking for a quick gift-worthy item, for someone else or for yourself, Sjaak’s is the place to look. There chocolate is smooth and pleasing to most taste buds, even those who are just dabbling in dark.
Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates is another Fair Trade certified chocolatier, but they do boast one extra feature, most of their vegan chocolate is also soy-free! They are one of the few that do not use soy lecithin. They do use a nice mellow 65% bittersweet for most of their chocolate, which includes clusters spiked with flavor … such as the Chili Orange Walnut and Cranberry Ginger Clusters.
Dagoba Organic Chocolate is another brand that is growing in both popularity and distribution, I have even spotted it at a gas station market. Yet, I must confess that I have never tried it…. and have almost lost my motivation to give it a sample since I discovered that Hershey bought them out. Nonetheless, Dagoba practices "full circle sustainability." Even after reading their website on the topic, I still have no idea what it means, but it does look like they are making a valiant effort in monitoring the origins of their chocolate, and that Goji, Acai, and Currants Super Fruit Chocolate Bar may be too unique for me to continue passing up.
As a heads up, I have confirmed that all of the above chocolate manufacturers do also produce milk chocolate, I presume in a shared facility, and possibly on shared equipment. If you do have a severe milk allergy, or if cross-contamination with milk may be of concern for you, ALWAYS remember to contact the manufacturer prior to consuming any packaged foods.
Photo Credit: Endangered Species