When we were married my husband and I realised we had the opportunity to create our own family traditions. We always honoured Easter as significant to our life and faith, and I certainly want to keep the solemness and joy of in the holiday. However, after our daughter joined our family I began to think more seriously about the importance of ethical Easter chocolate traditions.
The chocolate industry has notoriously tried to keep its dark secrets. Still, consumers, need to grapple with the fact that chocolate is often grown by slave labour and/or unsustainable practices. Mainstream companies are often the worst offenders. I recommend reading Child Labour and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.
As North Americans we fuel so many of our holidays with cheap chocolate. Easter is notable, especially since its origins are so important. We fill plastic baskets with plastic “grass” and plastic eggs full of “chocolate.” Visit any dollar store in April and you’ll find an entire aisle dedicated to stuff that you can buy for a buck and send to the landfill after the holiday.
But Easter Equals Chocolate. Right?
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When I was growing up my parents simply didn’t give us Easter chocolate. It was never a problem. I always (sometimes begrudgingly) understood that Easter was not about chocolate.
Easter certainly isn’t about chocolate—I still agree with that. But, I love chocolate, and I want to include it as part of my own celebrations. So, on Easter morning I set the table for breakfast and leave a bar of fair trade chocolate on each plate. (Except for Mr. M’s plate. He doesn’t like chocolate. He’s a little strange like that.)
A favourite of mine is Theo chocolate, available on Amazon. Our family is also particularly fond of Endangered Species Chocolate. This company donates ten percent of profits to wildlife conservation. (This is also the easiest way to convince Mr. M. that I should eat chocolate).
Choosing ethical Easter chocolate
How do I select our ethical Easter chocolate? I begin by looking for fair-trade certification. I realise that this marker is not the be-all end-all of ethical chocolate, but it’s a good place to start. It’s also a clear step consumers can take as the certifications are printed on the chocolate labels.
Another certification that I look for is Rainforest Alliance Certified. This mostly signifies that chocolate was grown in an environmentally sustainable way. It also contains protections for workers and growers. However, do be aware that some products are labelled RAC even if the majority of the product wasn’t certified.
While researching this article I learned that child slavery in chocolate is a specific problem to Western Africa (70% of chocolate comes from this region). South American chocolate appears to be grown without the use of child labour. As this is one of the most concerning problems with mainstream chocolate this small change can make a difference.
I also try to buy chocolate that is grown organically. Products that are certified organic have to follow agricultural and production standards, which I feel is another step I can take to making sure I’m buying ethical Easter chocolate.
You can find lists of ethical chocolate companies online. For this article I referenced Ethical Chocolate Companies by Slave Free Chocolate, which includes both Theo chocolate and Endangered Species Chocolate. Alternatively, look into smaller bean-to-bar companies that may be specific to your area for ethical Easter chocolate. While these are not guaranteed as sustainable, they are often much more conscientious than the large name brands.
In pursuit of an ethical Easter
We simply do the best we can—and I know that consumer preferences can truly change industries. Chocolate is not a necessity. It is a luxury, and one that I feel blessed to have ready access to. I would like my daughter to learn to appreciate quality over quantity and ethics over ignorance. I want her to know we value the lives of others enough to stay informed and make small changes for a better world.
Easter is a celebration, but it is one that inspires reflection for myself and my family. I want to bring joy into our home and our global communities with the traditions that we embrace. Ethical Easter Chocolate is one way that we try to do so.
What is your favourite ethical chocolate? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to try it!