Now that you have had a month to lose any extra holiday pounds, Valentine's Day is here and that means more chocolate! Yea! Plan ahead this Valentine's Day and buy Fair Trade chocolates for your special someone, while helping to end world poverty.
Fair Trade chocolate has met certain requirements to ensure that the workers in developing nations producing the cocoa beans are receiving fair wages. Fair trade also ensures that there are no children enslaved to the process, and that all farmers have a safe and healthy working environment. Purchasing fair trade chocolate lets your sweetie know you care about others as well as him/her.
You can find fair trade chocolate at online stores, Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates, based in San Luis Obispo, and Equal Exchange, based in West Bridgewater, Mass. Chocolate from both of these companies also is organic.
Going organic is another way to green your Valentine's Day chocolate. Do not be fooled by the term "All Natural," when buying sweets. In order to be organic, chocolate has to be free of chemical pesticides, so the cocoa beans and other ingredients, like milk, must have been grown or processed under USDA guidelines for organics. These products will carry the USDA certification stamp. For more info, see Fair Trade's FAQ on the topic.
Amazon.com offers a wide variety of organic chocolates, including Green&Black's espresso, caramel, hazelnut and white variations. Dagoba is an artisan company that specializes in organic chocolates and adheres to strict standards set by its chef founder. Gourmands might enjoy the Drinking Chocolate Trio or Xocoatal Cocoa Nibs with chili peppers and other exotic combinations. Want a pretty box, or need vegan options? Check out Sjaak's Organic Chocolates, based in San Francisco (with Dutch origins).
Just remember you need time for shipping, so order soon.
Once you have ordered the goodies, a recycled card may be apropos. Hallmark's Product Red cards are printed on recycled paper and benefit AIDs victims in Africa.
Looking for one more earth friendly gift idea? Skip the roses this year. Buy her (or him) a plant that your honey can keep forever. Indoor plants help cleanse the air and will last longer than the roses. If you want to go the extra mile, plant an rose bush in the garden for an (almost) endless blooms.
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