In this age of information, it is difficult—but not impossible–to be completely ignorant about almost any subject. Since creating The Go To Chocolate Store, Billie Jean and I have learned things about the cocoa suppliers of many big-name chocolate companies that we never wanted to know. We have shared many of these facts with you in previous posts. But it is not fair for us to burden you with this knowledge without giving you a way out. So, in this post, I am going to propose to you the only way I can think of that allows you to blissfully enjoy all the chocolates that the world has to offer without guilt. To be honest, millions of people already use this strategy without even knowing it. I refer to this strategy as the “Blinders Method.”
This strategy is based on a method used successfully with race horses and work horses. Because horses have their eyes set on the sides of their heads, they can be easily frightened or distracted. Blinders are used on race horses to keep them focused on moving forward and not straying off course.  The strategy I have in mind requires “mental blinders.”
WARNING: The following strategy requires focus and discipline.
Where to Start
If you read my post, 3 Compelling Reasons to Choose Organic Chocolate, you know that Billie Jean and I choose organic chocolates because of its health benefits, the reduced environmental impact of organic farming, and human rights protections afforded by most organic cacao suppliers. So, let’s start with health.
Conventionally grown cocoa is one of the highest pesticide-using crops in the world.  If you are not eating organic chocolates, you are probably ingesting ingredients that have been grown or processed with pesticides, hazardous chemicals, or dyes. Billie and I purchase organic foods including chocolates whenever possible. That is our choice, but your choice may differ from ours. If you have no fear of the effects of pesticides on your mental and physical health, then you can continue to eat almost any chocolate brand without changing a thing. However, if you believe that eating non-organic chocolates could pose a hazard to your health, you have two options:
Healthy option – Purchase and eat only organic, ethically sourced chocolates, or
Blinder Method – Ignore the potential health hazards of pesticides, fertilizers, other hazardous chemicals, and dyes used to make non-organic chocolate.
Now that’s not so difficult. Millions of people ignore the dangers of pesticides and other dangerous chemicals every day. Next, let’s look at the environmental impact of non-organic cocoa farming.
Those same pesticides and other chemicals poisoning our cocoa and other food supplies are destroying rainforests, plants, animals, and insects in many cocoa-growing regions of the world, especially West Africa.  Unfortunately, many of the big-name chocolate companies don’t seem to care about the devastation caused by cocoa farming practices in these poor cocoa growing regions. So, if the world’s largest and richest companies don’t care about the environment why should you? This large-scale destruction is happening so far away that it’s easy to pretend that it’s not a threat to all of us. But if you do care and you are concerned, you again have two options:
Responsible Option – Purchase and eat only organic, ethically sourced chocolates, or
Blinder Method – Ignore the environmental damage inflicted on the world that we all inhabit by pesticides, fertilizers, and non-sustainable farming practices.
I warned you that ignoring these troubling facts would require a lot of focus and discipline. Next and most troubling are the human-rights abuses occurring in the poorest cocoa regions of the world, especially West Africa.
Every year, millions of men, women, and children are abducted from their homes and sold as slaves to work the cocoa farms. This is especially common in regions of West Africa. Men, women, and children are beaten, overworked, and underfed so that some big-name chocolate companies can maintain an inexpensive supply of cocoa. 
Next time you sort through your child’s bag of Trick-or-Treat candy, think about the pain and suffering involved in providing the ingredients used for most of that candy. I was shocked to learn that this type of abuse occurred on some cocoa plantations. After all, this is chocolate that we’re talking about. How can anything be wrong with the production of a food that gives such pleasure to so many? Well it may surprise you to learn that most people working on cocoa plantations have never tasted chocolate.
But as with pesticide use and environmental destruction, these human-rights violations occur far from us. Out of sight, out of mind. Right? If you believe that, then you will undoubtedly enjoy any chocolates you eat. But if you are shocked and troubled by the horrible treatment of other humans on this planet for the sake of cheap cocoa, you have two options:
Caring Option – Purchase and eat only organic, ethically sourced chocolates, or
Blinder Method – Ignore the inhumane treatment of millions of men, women and children to maintain the world’s supply of cheap cocoa.
The Facts Can’t Be Ignored
I know. I know. I’m not being fair to you. Once you know the facts, it’s difficult to block them out of your mind. But you need to know that while you sit comfortably on your leather recliner enjoying your cable TV and devouring your favorite desserts, this is what is happening elsewhere:
- Pesticides are being used to grow or process your chocolates and other foods, threatening your health.
- Those same pesticides, along with other non-sustainable farming practices, are doing irreparable damage to the rainforests, plants, animals, and insects in your world.
- Greed and poverty are causing human-rights violations that you and I can’t even imagine just to maintain a cheap supply of cocoa.
So, here is the “Blinders Method” in a nutshell:
Enjoy your chocolates by
Putting on mental blinders and ignoring the potentially damaging health effects of chocolates made with ingredients that were grown or processed with pesticides, chemicals, or dyes.
Enjoy your chocolates by
Putting on mental blinders and ignoring the world-wide devastation of rainforests, plants, animals, and insects because of pesticides and non-sustainable farming practices in some cocoa-growing regions of the world.
Enjoy your chocolates by
Putting on mental blinders and ignoring the human-rights abuses of millions of men, women, and children for the sake of cheap cocoa.
You probably realize that eating chocolates made with pesticide-grown ingredients that harm your health and the health of the environment is irrational. Supporting companies that overlook or condone forced labor is irrational or worse. But if you can convince yourself–as do millions of people–that your choice makes sense, then you have become expert in the Blinder Method.
Maybe you are one of those people who cares about your health and your family’s health, the environment, and the millions of other human beings living on this world we share. You are not alone. Billie Jean and I also care. We have taken a stand against the companies that condone or even encourage these types of violations. That is why we have chosen to only sell and eat those chocolates that are made with organically grown and ethically sourced ingredients.
By purchasing organically grown and ethically traded chocolates from us or anyone else, you are supporting those chocolate companies that refuse to purchase ingredients from unethical sources. Chocolate should be enjoyed without guilt. You should and can feel good about the chocolates you enjoy. And it’s easy.
The next time you purchase chocolate—or coffee, check the label. Look for certifications like USDA Organic, Fairtrade Certified, Fair for Life, Rainforest Alliance, Single Sourcing or Direct Sourcing, or UTZ. There are others, but these seem to be the most common.
Encourage people you care about to safeguard their health and the health of our planet and the people who share it by purchasing organic, ethically traded chocolates and other foods. These foods seem a little more expensive until you weigh the dollar costs against the health, environmental, and human benefits.
As always, if you found this article informative and interesting, please take a moment to Share us and Like us on your favorite social media site. Follow us on Facebook, and don’t forget to shop our store at: https://thegotochocolatestore.siterubix.com/store/
All the chocolates and coffees at The Go to Chocolate Store are made with organically grown and ethically sourced ingredients.
- Sanderson, David. “Why Do Horses Wear Blinders”? Dallas Equestrian Center. 25 June 2014. <http://www.dallasequestriancenter.com/why-do-horses-wear-blinders/>
- 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/