start the week with a chocolatey quickie

And no, this is not a reference to the fact that we’re in that period in between St Valentine’s Day and Easter. (And for those of a religious persuasion and who know what both these occasions are really about: my apologies, you must get as sick of this as Irish people like me get about yesterday being called “Patty’s”…).

My MakeupAlleying chum nadi1010 has posted up a rather good article on her blog; it’s on the darker side of chocolate:

A subject close to my heart. For the obvious reasons—and why any decent human being, anyone who considers themselves to be a human being, and basically anyone—for which anyone should care. This is hurting people. And greedy. Bad. But also because I’ve been buying properly fair chocolate (regularly and, these days, as far as humanly possibly entirely—and if in doubt, always asking and nagging…) since the late 1970s, as far back as I’ve been buying chocolate. My family has been involved with Oxfam since they started, back in the ’40s (plus allied antecedent movements on the Quakers-being-fair side). So it’s been in the blood for three generations now!

But this is something that needs more consciousness-raising, by as many people as possible; not just the converted preaching to the converted. Hence the sharing the link-love going on here.

My only complaint: Alter Eco made a great 73% chocolate with cocoa nibs, and then they stopped. They now only go up to 67%. I asked, and the reason is “American tastes.” Which sucks; I’m not American, and I’m always wary of falling into national stereotyping, and I know that’s not true. See, I’ve had amazing high-cocoa proper chocolate in the USA (including by American artisans); I know that’s not a land devoted exclusively to The Cult Of Hershey. Go USA indies!

Here’s another informative item, from Fair Trade Vancouver: 

  • Chocolate
  • and their buying options
  • which include my favourite, my solid reliable faithful, my beloved regular everyday daily (not quite hourly, not that bad yet…) special friend; been loving me tender, loving me sweet since last July:

clinchable zazubean clinchee


  1. listengirlfriends

    Thank you so much for talking about my article!! I’m going to have to check out that Zazubean bar…can’t believe they have a black man posting with the chocolate, omg, lol 🙂 I will have to say on the Fair Trade Vancouver page that I’m not a fan of Dagoba…they’re one of Hershey’s ‘artisan’ brands and they’ve been taken off the shelves of US Whole Foods because they’re not properly certified. Also Green and Blacks is part of Kraft and they’re way corporate, though I guess they’re better than Hershey. I try to find chocolate companies that do really strong work with farmer cooperatives generally. There’s just so many transparency issues with chocolate labeling now, even with fair trade companies, that it can all get so frustrating. So cool your family’s been involved with Oxfam, no wonder you are so well-informed and socially aware! xoxo

    • gingerama

      Hey there–fab post, and thank YOU for it!

      I agree, basically, but am in two minds about Green & Black’s: I would like to think, optimistically, that some Big Corporate Buy-Ups aren’t just buying up profitable smaller companies (parallels: Burt’s Bees bought by Clorox, Tom’s of Maine bought by Colgate-Palmolive, The Body Shop and others bought up by L’Ucifer, Innocent bought by Coca-Cola). And that it’s not just going to help their R&D and S&M (sales and marketing *or* the other S&M, insofar as there is any difference…) departments, in Operation Greenwash and in acquiring market share in another audience, who are willing to spend more on (pseudo- or not) “greener” products.

      But I’d like to think that it may help them to green up, as well. To buy/use that indie company’s contacts and supply-network, and make quality products made from quality raw materials, that are also “quality” in a broader sense, including their environmental and human ethics.

      And to do so at a decent price, making (qualitatively and ethically) better products available to more people. For them to be available more widely, more readily, to everyone: i.e. there in regular shops, at accessible prices. Eventually, for that to become not just visible, but mainstream and normal. For unethical products to dwindle into marginality and die out. It would be great if over-consumption of slave-labour planet-destroying crap were to become a historical footnote, an evolutionary blind alley / dead end in social and economic history.

      The jury’s still out on that. Cadbury, for example, was the biggest chocolate producer in the UK after Mars. They’re an interesting company: one of the great 19th-century Quaker foundations, built and operating on Quaker principles (which coincide with 21st century best ethical practice). They started buying Fair Trade cocoa for all their chocolate in 2007. Then, after various amalgamations and take-overs, bought by our friends Kraft Foods; it was part of the agreement that Kraft would continue to buy Fair Trade cocoa for Cadbury’s products (Kraft Foods is now Mondelēz International).

      And I guess the other question is one of greater and lesser evils: what’s better/worse, to be owned by Kraft Foods/Mondelēz, Hershey’s, Mars, or Nestlé?

      Links (Wikipedia, and useful for the historical angle):
      Green & Black’s
      The Hershey Company
      Kraft Foods
      List of Kraft brands
      Mars, Inc.
      Mondelēz International

      and also:
      Big Chocolate
      Child labour in cocoa production
      Fairtrade labelling

      and (direct links to the organizations concerned:
      Fairtrade International and FLO Certification
      the International Labour organization (ILO)
      the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)

  2. listengirlfriends

    Thank you so much for your response! I guess the best we can hope for is full transparency. And I give Kraft props for their Green and Blacks brand for being completely transparent about their products, and for using the correct labeling, unlike the TJ and Whole Foods brands, as mentioned in my post. My interview with Marci Zaroff on the question of how to navigate greenwashing really drives your points home:

    Kind of sad about the Body Shop being bought out btw. I really liked Anita R’s vision…

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