So as much as I try to overlook those of you out there who despise bananas, or coconut, or tomatoes, or avocados -and man there are a ton of you- I just can't fathom disliking chocolate.
I forgive those of you who do, though, because... you know... more chocolate for me.
*commences chocolate rain dance*
In fact, aside from being delicious and perfect with everything, it's also GOOD for you. Thank you, sweet baby Jesus. Dark chocolate, that is. The darker the better according to one scientific study after another. According to "Cocoa polyphenols: can we consider cocoa and chocolate as potential functional food?"from the Journal of Chemistry, 2014, regular consumption of dark chocolate has been shown to strengthen cardiovascular health, decrease blood pressure, produce anti-inflammatory agents in the gut, and provide a lot of polyphenols that get turned into antioxidants which help slow aging and preserve our health. Antioxidants have been highly recommended by many medical experts for a long time to help prevent cancer. They're that powerful. And they're abundant in dark chocolate (and green tea, grape juice, etc.).
If you're a chocolate lover like me, be warned, I'm about to burst your perfectly chocolate-flavored bubble.
Mmm... choooccooolllaaatte buuubbbblllle.
But back to the issue: Chocolate is fu**ing delicious. It's fu**ing good for you, too.
It's also a terribly common source of child slave labor in Africa. No, seriously. This is where it gets sad, chocolate-loving-soul-mates-of-mine. If you're not buying "Certified Fair Trade" chocolate, and especially if you're buying Hershey's or Nestlé chocolate (you've probably heard the raucous lately about Nestlé continuing to suck water from the extremely drought-ridden grounds in California to bottle and sell back to people, just because they can. Or you've heard the CEO saying people don'tdeserve the right to free drinking water. I've got to ask, what the heck happened to that guy in his childhood???), your love of chocolate, pure and divine and perfectly natural, is actually supporting the child slave labor that produces said chocolate.
According to the CNN Freedom Project, there's a movement against the prominent slave labor and child labor found in the African chocolate industry. Cries for an ethically produced chocolate are being heard. In the meantime, however (some companies are promising to eradicate unethical labor practices by 2020; some say longer), it's up to us to pay the extra for Certified Fair Trade and to tell our friends who don't know yet. Because what if it were your child? or your mother? or you? out in those fields hour after hour, day after day, decade after decade?
You can check out the Fair Trade USA website for yourself here: Fair Trade USA.
I live in Eugene, Oregon where there's a relatively abundant community of ethically-minded people (you know... eco-conscious, health food-loving, yoga-championing, bicycling-worshipping, beautiful people) who make it easy to find fair-trade cocoa powder and chocolate chips for baking, bars for eating, and milk for drinking. I'm lucky and grateful. I know this isn't the case for everyone, though.
And this is where I turn into an Amazon.com commercial. Just for a second, so bear with me. While I typically don't endorse giant, monopoly-like corporations, and we're told -with good reason- to shop locally, when it comes to making the switch from slave-labor-chocolate to fair-trade-chocolate, it's worth it to order from Amazon.com if you would otherwise not have access to it where you live.
As a long time customer, I can attest to the awesomeness that is "Amazon Prime." Not only do you become a member entitled to really fast and FREE shipping on most products, but you then have access to almost unlimited books, magazines, movies, TV shows, and music via their free Kindle app and free Amazon TV app. You can, of course, also use these services on your laptop or via a device connected to your TV like a Roku.
I pay $49 a year for all this. That's $4.08 a month. That's less than 14 cents a day, folks. Can I get an "AMEN?!" Hallelujah.
(On a side note, if you go to http://smile.amazon.com/ for future purchases, you can choose an organization to which you'd like a portion of your regular payments donated, at no cost to you. Yep, Amazon ain't half bad.)
And by all means, check out smaller online companies or smaller companies close to you, if that works for you.
This kind of change in our routine isn't meant to make our lives difficult; it's meant to ensure a better quality of life for the many, many farmers out there working their buns off to make this glorious chocolate experience happen for us in the first place. They deserve more than just our gratitude. They deserve advocacy. They deserve the fair trade movement.
Really, this just makes everything about enjoying chocolate guilt-free. And that's delicious.