Whether you’re a dark chocolate lover or a milk chocolate fiend, one thing’s for certain – almost everyone loves chocolate. Over the last few years we’ve even convinced ourselves that it’s good for us, as dark chocolate is filled with flavonoids, which “keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries” (thanks for the medical jargon, WebMD).
The claims go back even further than that, of course, with the Mayans and the Aztecs attributing fatigue-fighting powers, and even longer life, to the drinking of chocolate-based beverages. Today, however, there’s an easy way to enjoy the taste of chocolate and feel good about it at the same time – the new wealth of organic and fair trade chocolate companies that are flooding the marketplace.
Just because a chocolate bar is organic that doesn’t mean that it has miraculous healing powers, however, so you’re probably still best to enjoy it in moderation. If you want a chocolate fix with a natural, feelgood, spiritual high, then we’d suggest checking out the following:
Okay, I may be biased in favor of this Seattle-based brand – but they still produce some of the most interesting and unusual chocolate bars around, and their dark chocolate is truly wonderful too (and very, very dark). Bonus points are given for being both Organic and Fair Trade. The more adventurous will want to try the Spicy Chile or Coconut Curry chocolate bars, but their classic flavors deliver as well – plus their single origin series now offers a 91% cacao dark chocolate, one of the darkest on the market.
The only Fair Trade chocolate company that’s 45% owned by the farmers, Divine also lives up to its name when it comes to the flavors on offer. Their Dark Chocolate with Raspberries makes for a perfect pairing, while those of you who prefer a milkier chocolate should check out the Coffee Milk Chocolate – your morning pick-me-up in a bar.
An Ecuadorian organic chocolate company, Pacari is particularly notable for its Andean Flavors range, offering everything from Lemongrass to Salt & Nibs. If your tastes are a little more conservative, they also produce the minimally-processed Raw range, including a 100% cacao bar. Not for the faint of heart.
4/ Equal Exchange.
Another organic-and-fair-trade combo, Equal Exchange offers many products, of which chocolate is just the tip of the sugar mountain. Not only do they have the bonus of being widely available in shops and grocery stores, but their chocolate is excellent too – the new Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt comes highly recommended.
They’re one of the most common organic chocolate bars to see in stores, but they don’t disappoint on quality either. Many of their bars are all-natural rather than organic, but with flavors like Goji Berry, Pecans and Maca on the organic menu they still have plenty to offer. Their commitment to both social responsibility and conservation is admirable as well.
(These recommendations are based on personal preferences and numerous tastings, and we offer opinions on the quality of the chocolate bars only, not the ways in which they’re produced or sourced. Please feel free to leave comments below if you have other recommendations to make, or want to comment on individual companies – we’re all about the chocolate!)