July really is a month packed full of wonderful events we can't help but get behind! Not only is it the month of Plastic Free July & Independent Retailer Month (both of which you can read more about in our previous journal posts!) but it is also World Chocolate Day! How fabulous is that? Like most people, we love chocolate, but it is important to us to know that our favourite sweet treat is ethically sourced and produced. Unfortunately, many of our favourite chocolate bars that grace supermarket shelves are not ethically produced, and the people who grow the cocoa are treated very poorly. In fact, child labour and slave labour is all too common in the production of chocolate and the growing practise can also be incredibly harmful for the environment. If you want to learn more, we recommend watching the short 2010 documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate which provides a heart-wrenching insight into the business of chocolate. However, that doesn't mean all chocolate is bad, in fact there are some wonderful companies producing delicious, ethical chocolate that you can enjoy guilt free.
Seed and Bean
Seed and Bean chocolate is 100% organic, Fairtrade where possible, and all of their products are ethically sourced and handmade in England. Their production facility is deliberately small and their batch size is just 45 litres, compared to large industrially-produced chocolate makers who make batches of 20-50,000 litres of chocolate a batch! They are the only chocolate company out of 27 to be awarded 100/100 by the Ethical Company Index (ECI). Paying above market price for their cacao, they only use FLO certified chocolate (the certification for Fairtrade Standards.) Their packaging is also 100% compostable, and they were the first UK based chocolate brand to make this change.The range of flavours they offer are unique and adventurous, with a good selection of white, milk, dark and vegan chocolate options. Our top flavour picks are the Sweet Orange and Thyme Dark Chocolate Bar, Raspberry and Vanilla White Chocolate Bar and the Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Truffles.
Ocelot Chocolate is a small business, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is owned and run by a couple, Matt and Ish. The brand is part of the Direct Cacao organisation for bean to bar makers, buying directly from farmers for a higher price than the Fairtrade standard. The outer cardboard packaging is FSC certified and can be recycled, and the inner film is 100% compostable. They source their cocoa from ethical supplier Original Beans who work to ensure that the cocoa farmers are given the fair trade and resources to enable them to focus on producing healthy, high quality cocoa and that they are able to not only look after their own families, but also protect the environment and communities around them. They currently offer a small but exciting range of flavours that all come in beautifully illustrated packaging that is designed in-house by Matt and Ish also. Our favourites are the Sea Salt, Violet Milk and Toasted Buckwheat bars.
Chocolate and Love
Created by Danish couple Scot Richard O’Connor and Birgitte Hovmand, Chocolate and Love’s aim is to make quality, organic and ethical chocolate at an affordable price. All the ingredients come from sustainable sources, including cacao from Panama, Madagascar, Peru and the Dominican Republic and are sourced from small, family-run farms with an average size of five acres. As for the packaging, the outer wrapping of the chocolate bars is 100% FSC Certified and the inner wrapper is also biodegradable and made from sustainably harvested wood. Chocolate and Love have even planted 27,000 trees in Ethiopia since 2010 in order to help offset the production of the paper wrapper! They offer a small but delicious selection of flavours, including a good range of vegan bars too and the packaging is beautifully designed. We recommend the Dark Chocolate with Pomegranate, the Single Origin Panama bar and the Creamy Dark and Cacao Nibs bar.
ARTHOUSE Unlimited are an incredible social enterprise based in Surrey that presents the skills and talents of men and women living with complex epilepsy, learning and physical difficulties. Over 70 artists work alongside instructors who enable groups or individuals to create artworks which are developed into designer products for sale, with a range of products spanning from birthday cards to kitchenware and, of course, chocolate. 100% of sales revenue goes towards sustaining the enterprise, helping it to grow and evolve and make a real change in the lives of the artists they work with. The chocolate comes in an exciting array of flavours, all handmade in the UK by a specialist chocolatier, that compliment the artwork that adorns the packaging. As well as their beautiful bars of chocolate which you can shop on our website, they also produce delicious, luxurious truffles. Our top picks include the Handmade Rich Chocolate Truffles - Hummingbird Design, Dark Chocolate with Honeycomb - Bee Free Design and the Milk Chocolate Cheesecake with Gingernut Crunch - Blue Dogs Design.
Enjoy! are a small-scale chocolate company based in the UK that aim to make chocolate that is suitable for everyone to enjoy. They make 100% organic chocolate that is also raw, vegan, made only from natural ingredients and free from dairy, gluten, soya, nuts and refined sugars! All of their chocolate begins with just 3 main ingredients; organic raw cacao powder, organic cacao butter and organic coconut sugar. They use nut-free recipes and their factory is totally nut-free and they are also registered with the Vegan Society. They are also currently working towards making their packaging 100% recyclable or compostable, but for the moment they do use a plastic inner film, however all other packaging components are recyclable. They offer an amazing range of flavours and also produce drinking chocolate and fudge! Our favourites are the Vanilla Caramel bar, Orange Chocolate Buttons and the Daringly Darkest 85% bar.
So, who's hungry? We hope you've found your new favourite ethical chocolate brand! Treating ourselves doesn't have to mean someone else is getting mistreated and we hope you can see how easy it is to buy delicious, ethically produced treats to celebrate this World Chocolate Day. Tell us all about your favourite ethical chocolate brand in the comments below! Happy snacking.