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Choosing Sustainable Chocolate

Choosing Sustainable Chocolate

Chocolate is on the minds (and in the tummies) of many around Halloween. This time of year offers a great opportunity to think about and look deeper into how chocolate is grown and produced. It’s not a delicious truth to digest, but the typical chocolate treats you buy at the store could very well have dark implications for farmers and ecosystems around the world.

Most of the world’s cocoa beans are grown in West Africa, Southeast Asia, Brazil and Ecuador. Cocoa is currently farmed on about 18 million acres of tropical land worldwide.

Cocoa plants thrive when shade-grown under a tree canopy, but many impoverished farmers clear-cut forest areas to create farmland in order to up production. This destroys ecosystems and wildlife habitats. Furthermore, according to the Rainforest Alliance, “this approach has short-term benefits on yields but is suitable only for hybrid plants that are increasingly replacing native cocoa. Unfortunately, these hybrid plants require the application of agrochemicals and grow in open fields, which leads to increased erosion and run-off—reducing soil fertility and contributing to water contamination and health problems.”

The good news is that many organizations, such as the Rainforest Alliance, are working with farmers worldwide to make the cocoa growing process more sustainable.

In fact, one great way to ensure that your chocolate was made with cocoa that was grown in a way that supports farmers and the environment is to buy Rainforest Alliance Certified™ chocolate. Just look for the green frog on labels.

For more about sustainable chocolate—and for other ideas about making your Halloween more eco-friendly this year—visit Green Your Halloween.

Photo by Fotolia/matka_Wariatka

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Environment, Food, Halloween, Wildlife, , , , , ,

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Shelley Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable, self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic Gardening content and the Vegetable Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in organic gardening, small-scale, local food production, waste reduction, food preservation and cooking. In her spare time, she posts in her personal blog, The Rowdy Radish.


+ add your own
12:22PM PST on Feb 14, 2014

Thank you for sharing.

10:04PM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

REAL Chocolate is a health food.

7:03AM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

thank you

11:50AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

Thanks for the information.

8:16AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012


6:37AM PDT on Nov 3, 2011


11:03PM PDT on Nov 2, 2011

Ooops.. green FROG I mean ;)

11:19AM PDT on Nov 1, 2011

Thanks!! I havent had chocolate in maybe like 4 years because I do not like sweets AT ALL but lately I've been interested in dark chocolate because of the health benefits and stress release that I have read about...I'll be looking for that green star!!

6:43PM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

thanks for telling the world

6:43PM PDT on Oct 30, 2011


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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