'green' Chocolates

By Sharon Naylor

March 25, 2011 6 min read

Chocolate lovers wishing to live a green lifestyle are often a little anxious to embark on the exotic exploration into the world of cacao farming. What will they find? Will they have to give up their melt-in-your-mouth vice of choice? Fear not, intrepid green venturers. Those who dare to venture here receive their sweet reward, in the form of mood-boosting, antioxidant-packed, delicious organic chocolates.

Oh, chocolate, hallowed be thy name. Not only does chocolate act as a secret best friend to women around the world but also studies have shown that cocoa may enhance the circulatory system, reduce unhealthy cholesterol and provide anti-cancer benefits. For a long time, many have considered chocolate a mood booster, but some recent studies have actually pointed to chocolate's aphrodisiacal qualities. And according to research, eating limited amounts of dark chocolate appears to help prevent heart disease, which could lead one to conclude that women have been unfairly ridiculed for nursing Hershey's bars while mending broken hearts. If you're among those who count chocolate as a pleasure in life, you'll be pleased to fit organic chocolates into your healthy lifestyle.

*Why Organic?

Like anything else that's farmed or created, cacao beans may be exposed to toxins while being harvested. During production, some chocolate types may absorb lead, but the organic chocolate manufacturing process seeks to avoid all such types of contamination and harmful leaching.

As green lifestyle consumers hunger for healthier foods and snacks, the chocolate market has delivered more organic chocolate bars, baking chocolate, chocolate truffles and even hot cocoa blends to provide a cleaner type of chocolate. These organic goods keep all of the benefits of chocolate, often with added antioxidants and other healthy benefits.

Fair trade certification is also important in green living. When a chocolate brand achieves fair trade certification, it meets the standards of environmentally friendly production and recycling, and it fairly compensates its workers, often providing education, lodging and health care to its labor force. Farmers are paid fair prices, and safe production facilities are monitored.

Look for organic and fair trade certification in any chocolates you're considering. If the company meets the high standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program in keeping with regulations of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and other regulations, it legally may call itself a provider of organic chocolates. Right now, there is concern that some products are labeled organic without actually being entirely organic. So invest some time in researching companies that proudly use the label "organic."

Non-organic chocolates, after all, may be filled with high-fructose corn syrup and may have been made from products grown with pesticides, perhaps even being contaminated with mercury. And when it's grown conventionally, cacao is sprayed with one of the highest amounts of pesticides of any crop. If you and your family enjoy chocolate, it's worth the effort to try new brands of organic chocolate until you discover your new favorite bar or truffle.

*Organic Chocolates To Try

A walk through Whole Foods or another organic market's chocolate section will reveal a world of chocolate bars in colorful wrappers with enticing names, which you may wish to add to your family's taste test. In addition to organic chocolate bars and treats found in a store, here are some online resources to explore for their creative flavor blends and earth-friendly practices.

--Newman's Own (http://www.NewmansOwn.com), not only for organic peanut butter cups and chocolate caramel cups but also for the company's commitment to donating profits to charity.

--Lake Champlain Chocolates (http://www.LakeChamplainChocolates.com), known for its sea salt and almond milk chocolates, providing a sweet and salty taste, as well as its blend of dark chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

--Earth's Sweet Pleasures (http://www.EarthsSweetPleasures.com), known for its gourmet fudge bar.

--Divine Chocolate (http://www.DivineChocolate.com), which garners rave reviews for its organic white chocolate and mint dark chocolate.

--Sweet Earth Chocolates (http://www.SweetEarthChocolates.com), which provides a vegan ultimate turtle and a popular peppermint cup.

--Dagoba (http://www.DagobaChocolate.com), which blends exotic flavors of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and other fair trade partners to create such antioxidant-packed blends as its lavender and blueberry dark chocolate bar and its "superfruit" dark chocolate bar, containing acai and goji berries.

*Incorporating Organic Chocolate Into Your Life

Organic chocolates take many forms, from the candy bars and truffles you enjoy to natural beauty products containing organic chocolate, such as lip balms and lotions. If chocolate is a part of your life, make the switch to organic chocolate and live a healthier life.

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