I used to have a sweet mouth. Not a sweet tooth, that wouldn’t do justice to my love of all things sugary. In my early college days, I would stop at one of those stores entirely devoted to candies, fill a lunch-sack sized bag, take it to my three-hour writing seminar and share it during class with my best friend. We would finish the bag. And we didn’t share.
I’ve moved on from my sugar-induced writing binges and don’t really enjoy sweets like I used to, but since Valentine’s is just around the corner, I thought I should see what’s out there. Several options appeal to me in the candy category (I’m taken with the extra-big heart lollipop) and any of the dark chocolates on the next page are fair game if you put them within my reach.
HEALTHY CANDY ALTERNATIVES FOR VALENTINE’S DAY:
Note: Ingredients in those little Necco “conversation” hearts? Sugar, corn syrup, corn starch, gelatin, modified food starch, natural and artificial flavors, gum arabic, xanthan gum, FD&C Colors (Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue1).
1. The Natural Candy Store: Online purveyor of all-natural, organic, non-hydrogenated candies.
2. Surf Sweets: Gluten free gummy candies, made in a nut-free facility, corn syrup and GMO free, with only natural colors and flavors using organic fruit juice and sweeteners.
3. Glee Gum: All natural colored and flavored gum.
4. Real Healthy Stuff: Handmade candy with all natural flavors and colors, gluten free and no preservatives.
5. Sugar Coated Organics: An online retailer carrying various organic candies with no artificial flavors or colors and no corn syrup. Many of their brands are gluten free, nut free, dairy free or vegan.
SUSTAINABLE, FAIR TRADE CHOCOLATE ALTERNATIVES FOR VALENTINE’S DAY:
Note: Check out this fun article on one Analiese Paik’s experience hosting a sustainble chocolate tasting.
2. Sweet Riot: “Sweetriot sources their cacao directly in Latin America, uses recyclable, reusable packaging which features emerging artists, and only uses all-natural, healthy ingredients for sweetriot’s dark chocolate ‘peaces.’”
3. CocoaVino: Above and beyond just sustainable, organic and fair trade, they use 100% recycled packaging and purchase 100% wind-generated electricity for their kitchen and office facilities.
4. Dagoba: Fair trade chocolates, syrup and cocoa powder, from a company participating in both local and worldwide humanitarian and environmental stewardship.
5. Endangered Species Chocolate: Fair trade, organic chocolates with a company policy to profit share 10% net by “providing grants to our 10% non-profit conservation partners and funding on-the-ground sustainable projects in areas where our cocoa is grown.”
6. Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates: Fair trade, certified organic chocolates made in the USA.
7. Coco Zen: Fair trade chocolates in steel tins (steel is the most recyclable metal) by a company participating in 1% for the planet.
8. Rescue Chocolate: “From each chocolate purchased, 100% of the net profits are donated to animal rescue organizations around the country.” The company also uses biodegradable packaging and hand delivery by public transportation when possible.
In doing all of this luscious research, I began to consider that maybe I should surprise my husband with what we call a “brother” gift – something the recipient will enjoy just enough to make up for the fact that you really wanted to buy the thing for yourself. I have found my brother-Valentine’s-Day gift for sweet hubby: Dark chocolate covered figs infused with sustainably-produced-in-California port, by Cocoa Vino.
They come in a package of four. Should I give him one, or two?