I have just eaten a bar of “ethical” chocolate, my first. I have no idea if its aids literary ability or as often claimed, is an aphrodisiac, but it tasted delicious. It has caramel and sea salt in it. I’ll come to that in a moment.
The colourful wrapper has a narrative on the inside. First comes an instruction to “Let the chocolate melt. If you chew the chocolate, less (sic) flavours are released.” I tried to let it melt in my mouth but being a confirmed chocoholic I failed with ease. The inside of the wrapper goes on to tell the avid eater how ethical the chocolate actually is. “At Yacao, [Dominican Republic] the farmers are paid a bonus price of 10-25% for their entire cacao crop. Of this 42% is invested into community projects.”
It then proclaims “NO pesticides! NO child labour!”
A quick rummage through the internet confirms what I thought difficult to prove without harvesting the cocoa beans myself and mixing the chocolate. The Yacao Project was established by the Swiss company – where else? – Pronatec – in 1999. Not exactly a name redolent of chocolate. The company boasts, “Using capital from responsible investors in Switzerland, we were able to help farmers with no financial means to produce high quality cocoa for export.” As if to anticipate the cynical the wrapper has a photograph of one very happy cocoa collector, pretty, smiling among the foliage, Carolina Altagracia Frias Garcia.
“Has eating chocolate ever felt this virtuous,” shouts the blurb. I want to shout back, “Yes! I’m a believer. I am cleansed!”
Chomping chocolate never troubled me until now. This has got be worried. Are all the other brands made by I’ll eat any sort but eschew America’s Hershey’s greasy, version. But I am happy to make others happier for their labour even if the chocolate is more expensive to buy than local fare.
The ingredients are cacao, cane sugar, vanilla, whole milk powder, coffee and sea salt. Expecting a bitter, sharp taste from the sea salt I can advise that the salt gives nothing more than a crunchy edge to the melt, not acerbic at all. The brand is, “Chocolate and Love.” It informs us of potential traces of “hazelnuts, almonds and peanuts” in the chocolate. Should we regard their invasion as unethical?