I am going to start this post with a confession. I’m as guilty as anyone in that I did not always choose organic and ethically traded chocolates or coffees. But in my defense (ignorance really), I didn’t know what those certifications meant, and the certified chocolates were usually a little more expensive than the non-certified. Plus, most of the big-name brands that I grew up with don’t seem to need these certifications.
Then Billie Jean and I came up with the idea to create and open an online chocolate store. What could be better? Everyone loves chocolate. No controversy. No politics. No hassle. No lack of merchants. Right? Wrong!
As we researched the types of products that we would offer, we learned what “organic” and “ethically sourced” meant to the people who farmed, sold, and ate chocolate. By the way, most of the people who work the cocoa fields have never tasted chocolate.
Hopefully, by now you know that at The Go To Chocolate Store we only sell chocolates that are made with organic ingredients that have been ethically and sustainably farmed. In this post, I will share what I believe to be three compelling reasons to choose organic chocolate over non-organic. But first, I will explain exactly what organic means in the cocoa and coffee industries.
Different Organic Seals
If you live in the United States, you’ve seen the seals “USDA Organic,” “Certified Organic,” “100% organic,” or “made with organic.” These certifications mean that the product you are purchasing is free or mostly free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering. Let’s run though the differences in these labels. 
USDA Organic – This means that the ingredients or contents of the item you purchased are 95% or more certified organic and meeting the above requirements. The remaining 5% may only be foods or processed with additives on an approved list.
Certified Organic – This means that the ingredients or contents of the item you purchased are 95% or more certified organic and meeting the above requirements. The remaining 5% may only be foods or processed with additives on an approved list.
100% organic – This means that the ingredients or contents of the item you purchased are 100% certified organic and meeting the above requirements.
Made with organic – This means that the ingredients or contents of the item you purchased are 70% or more certified organic and meeting the above requirements. These products cannot carry the USDA seal, and the remaining 30% of the ingredients cannot be foods or be processed with additives from a special exclusion list. So, this brings us to “Reason #1.”
Reason #1: Health
Organic chocolate uses little or no pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc. That reason would probably seem like reason enough for many people to choose organic. Now you may think that using a little pesticide or chemical fertilizer on cocoa plants may not be that harmful to your health.
But did you know that conventionally grown cocoa is one of the highest pesticide-using crops out there?  That makes a big difference to me. How about you? I look for chocolates with an organic percentage of 70%to 98%.
Reason #2: Environment
The same benefits of organic chocolate, i.e., no pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc. benefit the environment  by preserving habitats for plants, pollinators, and animals. Organic farming calls for using thinned forest because cocoa grows best in shade and natural pest control which attracts helpful insects. Working with nature in this way helps to promote robust cocoa trees and a healthier environment. 
Reason #3: Human Rights
Organic chocolate is almost always ethically sourced.  This means that human-rights abuses like slave trafficking and child labor are strictly prohibited within the cocoa supply chain. The inhumane treatment of millions of men, women, and children working in the cocoa industry cannot be overlooked. Buying organic can help to change scenes like this:
Into scenes like this:
The extra cost of organic chocolate can help prevent the abuse of some of these poor people. I think it is a worthy investment. What do you think?
So yes, most everyone does love chocolate, but as I just revealed, most people who work the cocoa fields have never tasted chocolate. There is a lot of controversy in the chocolate industry. Many big-name chocolate companies source their cocoa ingredients from regions known for human-rights violations, child labor, slave trafficking, etc. And if these chocolate companies don’t care about the health and welfare of millions of poor children and their families, I doubt that they give too much thought to my health and welfare or yours, the environment, or the global community. As for politics, I don’t understand how chocolate companies that allow these types of practices within their supply chains are allowed to legally prosper in a great country like ours. Anyway, I’m getting on a soapbox here.
It can be difficult to find chocolate companies that make chocolates with organic, ethically-sourced ingredients. But three compelling reasons for making the effort are health, environment, and global community. We love to eat chocolate every day. Why not let our love for chocolate benefit our health as well as the health and well-being of millions people less fortunate than ourselves?
If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the comment section below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- Henry, Alan. “What Does Organic Really Mean, and Is It Worth My Money?” 10 September 2012. Ask Lifehacker. <https://lifehacker.com/what-does-organic-really-mean-and-is-it-worth-my-money-5941881>
- De Greff, Dana. “Organic vs. Regular Chocolate.” Delishably. 21 January 2019. https://delishably.com/desserts/Organic-Chocolate-VS-Regular-Chocolate
- Johnson, Jerry. “Why Choose Organic Chocolate?”. Food Editorial.co. 2019 https://www.streetdirectory.com/food_editorials/snacks/chocolates/why_choose_organic_chocolate.html
- None Listed. “Ethical Chocolate Companies.” Slave Free Chocolate. 2019 http://www.slavefreechocolate.org/ethical-chocolate-companies/
- None Listed. “Why Choose Organic Dark Chocolate?” Health-Benefits-Of-Dark-Chocolate.com. 2019 <http://www.health-benefits-of-dark-chocolate.com/organic-dark-chocolate.html>