I live by a code: If it’s a dessert that’s not chocolate, then what’s the point? I am indeed a bona fide chocolate lover, but I’m also passionate about ethical shopping and making sure that my chocolate addiction doesn’t come at the price of someone else’s freedom. Which makes the chocolate industry’s inability to get it together pretty frustrating.
Major chocolate companies like Nestle, Hershey’s, and Mars have been called to task time and time again for the use of child labor and slavery in their supply chains. For years, these companies have pledged to eradicate this problem and for years they have come up short on their promises.
So, a short answer to, “do chocolate companies really use child labor?” is, sadly, an absolute yes.
The reasons why, especially in our complex global economy, are a little more complex. Poverty in Western Africa often drives the need for children to work and support their families. These children are encouraged to lie about their ages (to make their work legal) and are not required to have their work documented in any way, so they spend their days in hard manual labor on cocoa farms instead of attending school, being with their families, or enjoying childhood.
Chocolate companies often do not know where exactly their supplies are coming from and eventually, the demand for cheap chocolate from consumers leads to these major corporations buying from the lowest bidder.
Wow. That’s a lot of information. So what does it all mean? Do we have to stop buying chocolate?
Fortunately, there’s no need to give up chocolate altogether (you can breathe your sigh of relief now). In fact, buying ethically-made chocolate can actually give an economic boost to the poverty-stricken areas where cocoa farming takes place!
The answer is to find chocolate companies that are transparent, with ingredients that are fairly sourced and certified by a third-party. These chocolate brands are all around, and we’ve found seven that you can buy on the DoneGood marketplace and from DoneGood approved shops!
Before we dig into the list, if you like learning about brands that are changing the way the world does business, want to be the first to know about new arrivals on DoneGood, and get exclusive discounts delivered right to your inbox, sign up for email from DoneGood below. We'll start you off with over a dozen ways to save on ethically-made products!
Now, let's get into chocolate that tastes amazing and that you can feel good about eating!
The name says it all! Beyond Good provides amazing single origin chocolate bars in a variety of flavors. Their chocolate goes straight from farmer, to chocolate maker, to you, and they think that makes for all around better chocolate! Not just because the chocolate tastes better, but because it means they can ensure only fair labor in their supply chain! Beyond Good works directly with over a hundred cocoa farmers in Madagascar and Uganda. They help them grow premium cocoa and then they pay them big bucks for it—we're talking beyond-fair-trade big bucks! They're even using sustainable harvesting and agroforestry to help conserve wildlife in Madagascar.
Named a World Changing Idea by Fast Company, Renewal Mill is an upcycled food company that fights climate change and global food loss by upcycling byproducts from food manufacturing into superfood ingredients and premium, plant-based pantry staples. And those plants are ethically harvested by well-paid workers! The cocoa in Renewal Mill's baking mixes and cookies is Fair Trade Certified, meaning you don't have to worry about child or forced labor. With lots of gluten free and vegan options, their brownie mixes and chocolate chip cookies are sure to make a perfect addition to anyone’s pantry—and did we mention they’re delicious?
Grace Farms Foods offers great choices for globally-sourced organic and fair trade teas, coffees, and cookies. And their delicious salted chocolate chip cookies are completely fair trade certified for an indulgent snack you can feel good about. And even better, 100% of profits from your chocolate-y treat go back to help Grace Farms Foundation’s work to end forced labor worldwide. So, go ahead. Feel good, do good, and share in something greater!
Equal Exchange is kind of a giant in the fair chocolate industry—and for good reason! They offer a variety of chocolate-y treats, while prioritizing their passion for keeping their food fair. Equal Exchange is worker-owned, and Fair Trade and Green America certified. Global Gifts carries their amazing chocolate minis! Perfect for restocking your chocolate stash, filling an Easter basket, or filling up a gift bag!
A Christmas tradition in my family is that, instead of filling my stocking up with candy, someone will buy me the giant case of Divine milk chocolate—my chocolate stash for the whole year (or...most of it…). Seriously, I love Divine chocolate. And our amazing partner brand Global Gifts sells Divine chocolate flights with six mini bars of Divine’s bestsellers. Perfect for a gift...or for you if you just want to sample and, you know, make sure Divine Chocolate is really for you.
Ok, to be honest, I’ve never tried Zotter Chocolate before, but if you look at that picture above, you might be able to imagine why I’m drooling right now and adding it to my “to try” list. Doesn’t it look amazing? And of course, you know it does amazing things because Zotter Chocolates are 100% fair trade and organic. Global Gifts carries several of Zotter’s hand-scooped, filled chocolate bars, so browse around and find the right flavor for you (and try not to drool in the process).
Writer, editor, and all-around language enthusiast who uses her love of words to help others.