Organic chocolate and fair-trade chocolate are two fast-growing segments of the candy market. But is organic chocolate really sweeter, and how fair is fair trade chocolate?
All chocolate is made from cocoa powder, which comes from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree. Like all organic food, no synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers are used to cultivate organic cacao trees. Real organic chocolate also uses organically grown sugar.
Organic Chocolate, or Imitation Chocolate?
Regular chocolate, on the other hand, is an environmental nightmare compared to organic chocolate. Conventional cacao tree cultivation uses more pesticides than any other factory farming process except cotton, according to some reports.
And in addition to using synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, regular chocolate usually contains high fructose corn syrup, wax, artificial flavors and colors, and other unappetizing ingredients.
Fair trade chocolate might or might not be organic -- check the label to find out. Though fair trade practices aren't necessarily better for the environment, it's more likely that fair-trade workers are paid a living wage, work in safer conditions, have access to health care, education and other important opportunities. (Critics of fair trade foods, however, have charged that these purported benefits aren't universally found in all fair trade processes.)
Organic Chocolate: Taste the Difference
But now, let's get to the point: How does organic chocolate taste? According to all reports, organic chocolate and fair trade chocolate have an amazingly rich, aromatic flavor, and are completely different from industrial chocolate. Fans of dark chocolate, especially, describe the taste of organic dark chocolate as a near-transcendent experience.
In 2011, Consumer Reports rated the chocolate flavors of some leading brands, and found that two organic chocolates -- Theo Chocolate and Dagoba Organic Authentic -- were among the most delectable. They're not inexpensive, but come on: it's chocolate.
See for yourself -- this Valentine's Day, or any other day, try some organic chocolate and discover how sweet it is to help Mother Earth.