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Slave-Free Chocolate

So ... knowing that some chocolate is made with slave labor, I don't see how someone could knowingly buy such chocolate again. Luckily, not all chocolate is tainted - by slavery or even milder forms of labor abuse.

1. Is My Chocolate "Slave-Free"?

If you want some chocolate, but don't want to exploit people, Fair Trade chocolate is probably your best bet. "Fair trade" was a term coined fairly recently, apparently in contradiction to so-called free trade.

In the Fair Trade system, purchasers of products like coffee and cocoa beans, bananas, and sugar typically agree to pay an above market price for the products. The extra money is intended to help the small farms and co-operatives selling the products to make lasting improvements in their communities, by going towards schools, hospitals, and other improvements in infrastructure. The purchasers of the products, meanwhile, who are typically companies intending to import and sell the products yet again in another country, can then label the products as "Fair Trade certified", which lets the end consumer know that he or she isn't colluding in exploitation against some poor third world farmer. And thus, in theory, everyone is happy.

It sounds good to me, and, as I write, I've yet to hear any claims that the Fair Trade system is somehow corrupt, or phony, or any other adjective that might mitigate its goodness. Of course, the higher price paid to the Fair Trade farmer is usually passed on to the end consumer, but it seems a small price to pay, indeed, to know that you aren't colluding in the exploitation of poverty.

The markets for Fair Trade products, including chocolate, are small but growing rapidly, and I think we should all do what we can to support them.

Now, as far as chocolate goes specifically, there is, apparently, another option that is slavery-free. According to Caroline Tiger, writing for the online magazine Salon, "organic chocolate, sold by such U.S. companies as Newman's Own and Dagoba, is also 'slave free,' since organic farms are subject to their own independent monitoring system that checks labor practices." It has also been noted that, as of now, they don't grow cocoa beans organically in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), which is where the vast majority of the reports about chocolate slavery have come from. Finally, according to Camille Littlejohn of Newman's Own Organics, the limited supply of certified organic cocoa ensures that organic cocoa farmers receive a premium price. So, apparently, organic is also okay.

For your convenience, we've created a list of companies that sell Fair Trade chocolate, organic chocolate, or chocolate otherwise believed to be slavery-free. The list is by no means comprehensive; there may be other ethically made chocolates out there that we don't know about - there are thousands of chocolate companies, after all - but we'll try to add other companies as we hear about them. You may also notice that we've included some companies - Ben & Jerry's, for example - that use ethically produced chocolate in some products but not in others. Naturally, we're not happy that they make money from slavery with some of their products, but as a practical matter, it seems sensible to encourage their more ethical products by purchasing them. Maybe someday - especially if they're also bombarded with enough angry letters - they'll go good altogether.

Finally, you may have noticed a lot of qualifiers in the above statements, qualifiers like "apparently", "probably", and "in theory". Why? Well, frankly, I'm cynical. It would be hard not to be, knowing what I do about corporations, governments, and people in general. And so, the guide that follows should not be taken as a foolproof guarantee that the companies listed aren't engaged in something shady (in fact, we know that some of them are; see above), or won't be in the future. But, in conjunction with your own good judgement and vigilance, it should serve as handy guide to buying slavery-free chocolate.


Update, 01/19/2009 New!

When we created this site in 2005, we decided that the list that follows should be fairly inclusive so as to give consumers the widest range of slavery-free chocolate options possible. Accordingly, we included companies that, based on their public statements, apparently follow fair trade principles even though they are not Fair Trade certified per se (Ah!laska, Amano, and Sunspire, for example); companies that sell some Fair Trade certified chocolate products but also sell chocolate that may be tainted with slavery (Ben and Jerry's, for example); companies that sell chocolates that are certified as organic but not Fair Trade (Newman's Own, for example); and even some companies whose chocolate is neither organic or Fair Trade certified but is presumably slavery-free simply because the cocoa originates in parts of the world where chocolate slavery has never been reported (Mayordomo, for example). And, like, we don't regret that inclusivity because, again, we think it's important to give people a lot of slavery-free options and also to educate people, in a way, by pointing out the sort of fine distinctions mentioned in the preceding sentence.

That said, it's also fair to say that those distinctions can be sort of confusing at times (again, see the aforementioned sentence up there -- kinda confuses me even, and I just wrote it! :^). So, before you get bogged down in the complexities of the list below -- and particularly if you're not really interested in all that -- I'd like to strongly recommend that you check out this link, which will take you to the list of companies that have been officially Fair Trade certified by the folks at TransFair USA, the non-profit organization responsible for Fair Trade certification for products sold in the US.

Not only is Fair Trade almost certainly your best option when it comes to buying chocolate that is slavery-free, it also provides the best guarantee that a significant portion of the money you spend will go towards improving the communities where the cocoa was produced. With some of the non-Fair Trade companies, after all, you will presumably get chocolate that is slavery-free, but there is less certainty that the cocoa producers themselves will be getting a "premium" (i.e., fair) price for their cocoa. Of course, this is not to say that some of the non-Fair Trade companies listed below aren't great (for example, the late Paul Newman directed that fully 100% of the profits from Newman's Own products be donated to charity, which might've been the coolest thing that even Cool Hand Luke ever did). But, if you find the questions of provenance, of organic vs. Fair Trade, of self-proclaimed fair trade vs. Fair Trade certified, etc., confusing, or if you just don't wanna think about any shades of gray or caveatsÂ…Well, then just hit that link up above (or this one) for TransFair's list of Fair Trade sellers, and you can know without a doubt (or as close to without a doubt as there is) that you'll find chocolate that's both good for your taste buds and your conscience.

Otherwise, by all means feel free to check out the list below.

Slave-Free Chocolate

< Is My Chocolate "Slave-Free"?

Not all chocolate is tainted by slavery or even milder forms of labor abuse. Learn how you can tell if a product is "slave-free".

< Slave-Free Chocolate Table

This table contains information about chocolate products that do not contain cocoa produced in Cote d'Ivoire.

< Post a Review/Comment

Post comments or reviews of slave-free chocolate you have tried.

< Table Description

Click here for a description of the table entries.

< Links

Link to other online sites about slave-free chocolate.

< FAQ

We're not good at answering our email, so if you have a question, check here first!

< Facebook Group

Join the Facebook group Stop Chocolate Slavery (Buy Fair Trade!).




Questions? Comments?
Check our FAQ, or send email to kyles78(at)hotmail.com

2. Slave-Free Chocolate Table.

This table contains information about Fair Trade chocolate, organic chocolate, or chocolate otherwise believed to be slavery-free.

Click here for a description of the table entries.

Brand Name

Products

Organic?

Fair?

Source

Where to Buy

Ah!laska Cocoa, Baker's Cocoa, Chocolate Syrup
Unknown Online, Whole Foods, Henry's/Wild Oats
AlterEco Chocolate bars
Ghana, Bolivia Online, Whole Foods, Store Locator
Amano Chocolate Bars No
Madagascar, Venezuela Online
Art Bars (Ithaca Fine Chocolates') Chocolate Bars Yes
Unknown Online, See list here
Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream
Ghana and unknown Organic line: Whole Foods, Ben & Jerry's, Chocolate: most grocery stores
Camino Cocoa Hot Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Chocolate Bars
Dominican Republic Online
Chuao Bonbons, Truffles, Chocolate Bars, Hot Chocolate, Dipped Fruit, Cocoa Nibs No
Chuao region of Venezuela Online, Whole Foods, San Diego Locations
Clif Bar Nectar Bars and Z Bars only
No Unknown Most grocery and health food stores.
Cloud Nine/Tropical Source Chocolate Bars, Candy Bars, Bulk Chocolates
Central Mexico Online, Whole Foods, Henry's/Wild Oats
Coffee-Tea-Etc. Hot Chocolate Yes
Dominican Republic Online
Country Choice Hot Chocolate, Cookies
No Unknown Online, Whole Foods
Dagoba Organic Chocolate Chocolate bars, Cacao Powder, Hot Chocolates, Chocodrops, Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans, Chocolate Syrup.
Latin America, Carribean Online, Whole Foods
Deans Beans Hot Cocoa, Baker's Cocoa
Costa Rica Online, Whole Foods, List
Divine Bars (Day Chocolate Co.') Chocolate bars, Cocoa Powder, Hot Chocolate, Chocolate Covered Nuts No
Ghana Online, U.K. Stores
Domori Chocolate Bars, Cocoa, Cocoa beans, Hot Chocolate
Peru, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Venezuela, Madagascar Online
El Rey Chocolate Bars and Blocks, Discos, Cacao Nibs
Venezuela List, Online
Endangered Species Chocolate bars
West Africa, South America Online, Whole Foods
Equal Exchange Chocolate bars, Baking Cocoa, Hot Cocoa
Central and South America, Mexico Online, Whole Foods
Frontier Cooperative Cocoa powder Yes Yes Unknown Online
Green and Black's Chocolate Bars, Cookies, Ice Cream, Hot Chocolate, Choclates
Dominican Republic, Belize Online, Whole Foods, Henry's/Wild Oats
Guittard Akoma Extra Semisweet Chocolate Chips No Yes West Africa Whole Foods, H.E.B.,Andronico's
Health by Chocolate Chocolate Bar, Chocolate Drink
Unknown Online, Whole Foods
Lake Champlain Hot Chocolate, Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Sauces, Truffles
Unknown Online, Whole Foods
Larabar Chocolate Food Bar Yes Yes Unknown Online, Store Locator
Malagasy Cocoa bar
Madagascar Online
Maramor Chocolates Chocolate candies, seasonal candies (e.g. easter eggs) Yes
Unknown These distributors
Max Havelaar Yes No
Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Peru Stores all around Europe
Mayordomo Mexican Chocolate No No Tabasco and Chiapas, Mexico Online, Whole Foods
Newman's Own Organics Chocolate Bars
Costa Rica Online, Whole Foods, Henry's/Wild Oats
Nirvana Chocolates Chocolate spread (Nutella-like), Truffle gift-boxes No
Unknown Online
Omanahene Chocolate Bars, Hot Cocoa Mix, Iced Frappe Mix, Couverture No
Ghana Online
Pamela's Products Organic Cookies Organic Cookies Yes No Unknown Amazon, Whole Foods, Henry's/Wild Oats
Providence Coffee Hot Cocoa Yes Yes Ecuador Online
Rapunzel Chocolate Bars, Semisweet and Bittersweet Chocolate Morsels and Dollups, Cocoa, Chocolate Butter
Bolivia, Dominican Republic Online, Whole Foods, Henry's/Wild Oats
Raw Revolution Organic Live Food Bar Health Bars
No Unknown Local Store Locator, Raw Revolution Online Store Amazon Grocery
Robin's Chocolate Sauce Chocolate sauce Yes Yes Unknown Online
San Francisco Chocolate Factory GAIA Organic Chocolate Drops Yes Yes Unknown Online
Santa Cruz Organics Chocolate Syrup
No Unknown Whole Foods, Henry's/Wild Oats
Scharffen Berger Chocolate Bars, Cocoa Nibs, Cocoa, Baking Bars, Chocolate Sauce, Couverture Slabs, Hot Chocolate, Candies, Truffles
Not Cote d'Ivoire Online, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's
Shaman Chocolates Chocolate Bars
Unknown Online, Whole Foods
Sojourn Hot Chocolate
Dominican Republic or Costa Rica Seattle Shop
Sunspire Chocolate Chips, Chocolate Drops (M&M-like')
Central and South America Online, Whole Foods, Henry's/Wild Oats
Sweet Earth Chocolates Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Chips, Cookies
Dominican Republic, Costa Rica Online
Terra Nostra Organic Chocolate Bars, Truffles
Central and South America, Carribean Whole Foods, See list here
Theo Chocolate Chocolate Bars and Candies Yes Yes Unknown Online, See list here
Tony's Chocolonely Slave-Free Chocolate Chocolate Bar No
Unknown Stores in the Netherlands, Online
Trader Joe's Fair Trade Cocoa Hot chocolate No Yes Unknown Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's Organic Chocolate Bars Chocolate Bars Yes No Unknown Trader Joe's
Whole Foods Private Label (365 Organic Chocolate, Whole Kids Organic') Chocolate Bars, Truffles, Hot Chocolate Mix Yes
Dominican Republic Whole Foods
Valrhona Chocolate bars No
Trinidad, Venezuela Online, Trader Joe's
Vital Choice Chocolate bars Yes Yes Central America Online
Yachana Gourmet "Jungle Chocolate" (Cocoa nibs) Yes
Equador Online, List

 

3. Post a Review/Comment

If you tried one of the slave-free chocolate products in the table above, please post a review or comment here.

4. Table Description.

  • Brand Name: This column contains the product brand. Click on the name to link to the product's home page.
  • Products: This column lists the types of chocolate products this brand sells.
  • Organic?: This column lists states whether or not [some] of this brand's chocolate products are organic. Click on the button and more information will appear in the box in the bottom frame.
  • Fair?: This column indicates whether or not the brand has fair trade practices. That is, do they make a real effort to ensure cocoa farmers are paid a fair price, do they make an effort to improve the lives of cocoa farmers? Click on the button and more information will appear in the box in the bottom frame. A "No" in this column only means that I did not find any mention of fair trade practives on the company's webpage.
  • Source: This column indicates where this product's cocoa is grown. "Unknown" means the source is unknown to me, not necessarily the company as well.
  • Where to Buy: This column lists locations I have found the product in my neighborhood or online.

5. Links.

Child Slavery in your Chocolate. Steven Millman wrote letters to over 200 chocolate companies. These letters asked whether the companies were sure their chocolate did not contain slave-produced cocoa. At this site, he posts their responses (or lack there of).

Transfair USA Cocoa Products. This site contains a list of brands that have some products that are fair trade certified.

Transfair USA is the organization that certifies products as Fair Trade in the U.S.

Fair Trade Standards for Cocoa

Fair Trade Federation Retail Stores "carry primarily fairly traded items, either bought directly from producer groups or from fair trade wholesalers. FTF retail shops offer an alternative to the neighborhood discount store where consumers blindly buy inexpensive foreign made products that offer no guarantees for workers' safety or well being. In contrast, when shoppers frequent FTF retail shops, they get high quality merchandise, and can feel confident that a significant percentage of their purchasing dollars are going directly to artisans."

Fairtrade Labeling Organization is the umbrella organization of the 17 national fair trade organizations (e.g. Transfair USA and Max Havelaar).

Fair Trade Candy Blog Reviews of many brands of slave-free chocolate.

Organic-Nature-News -- Organic Chocolate: information about organic chocolate.

USDA National Organic Program.

Quality Assurance International

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

Slave-Free Chocolate

< Is My Chocolate "Slave-Free"?

Not all chocolate is tainted by slavery or even milder forms of labor abuse. Learn how you can tell if a product is "slave-free".

< Slave-Free Chocolate Table

This table contains information about chocolate products that do not contain cocoa produced in Cote d'Ivoire.

< Post a Review/Comment

Post comments or reviews of slave-free chocolate you have tried.

< Table Description

Click here for a description of the table entries.

< Links

Link to other online sites about slave-free chocolate.

< FAQ

We're not good at answering our email, so if you have a question, check here first!

< Search

Search this website or the WWW.




Questions? Comments?
Check our FAQ, or send email to kyles78(at)hotmail.com


Last Updated January 19, 2009.