Chocolate Hunting for Ethical Consumers

Picture of a split open ripe cacao pod showing unprocessed cacao aril.
Photo by Larry Garcia Pez on Unsplash.

It is very difficult for us to ever find chocolate that suits our dietary restrictions. Let alone, the difficulties of finding ethically sourced chocolate/cacao. And then, there’s trying to find one in compostable packaging! Anyway, here’s a little snippet on what we consider when purchasing this delicious food. (Yes, cacao is food, not candy.)

Ethically Sourced Cacao

First and foremost, we consider whether the cacao beans used to make the product were grown and harvested sustainably. In order for farmers to do so, they need to be being paid fair wages. This is to combat the problems of poverty, deforestation, gender inequality, child labor, and forced labor growing in the conventional chocolate industry. Fair wages give the farmers the ability to invest in the positive growth and protection of their communities. This then gives the whole community the ability to improve their relationship with nature. To ensure the use of these superior growing conditions, we look for the products to have certified labels for organic, fair trade, ethically sourced, non-GMO verified, etc.

Chocolate Ingredients

It has taken us many years to discover the food products our bodies are sensitive to. Each time we did though, we took the necessary steps to amend our personal diets. In doing this, our pain levels and brain fog plummeted. In tandem, our natural energies and clarity we didn’t even know we were missing before returned to us. I even had to go a few years without ever consuming cacao due to my body’s negative responses to its caffeine content. But, after my health improved, I have now been able to work it moderately back into my diet.

Picture of Rimakej's parents' two chickens, Hei hei and Coco, looking for treats through the glass of the backdoor.
My parents’ chickens, Hei hei and Coco.

So, next we check the ingredients list of each product. We learned long ago that you can’t assume anything when it comes to ingredients. Most people aren’t even aware how common it is for soy to be in chocolate. We personally can’t consume soy, gluten, eggs, dairy, nor refined/synthetic salt. Yes, we have seen chocolate products with all of these ingredients in them before. Technically, the egg restriction is only when they come from soy-fed chickens. But, since that information is not specified on ingredients list, we must avoid all products with eggs in them. However, we can eat eggs from our own/my parents’ chickens (pictured above). We also can have lactose-free dairy, such as ghee, when it comes from organic, pasture-raised, and humanely-raised animals.

Chocolate Packaging

This is an area we would still like to improve our own consumption in. We strive to find sustainably sourced compostable/biodegradable packaging whenever possible. Though, we have not been able to always decide not to purchase something we need only because it’s in plastic packaging. This standard especially went downhill as we were rushing through our recent move. But, we do our best to reuse/recycle what we can’t compost, and to find better sources for our future purchases.

Picture of the creamy flavored and dark flavored bars of lovingearth brand chocolate in compostable packaging.
Brand not affiliated with Half Hectare Homestead.

We only found one chocolate brand (pictured above) being sold near us, while we were still in the States, that had 100% compostable packaging and fit our dietary needs. Unfortunately though, the one store we found it at stopped carrying it shortly after we discovered it. We do still keep a lookout, but have now moved to making our own chocolate at home. Sadly, packaging for the cocoa powder we have found has not been compostable either. But, one of the stores selling it near us here in the UK that my parents frequent is a package free shop!

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