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Sustainable and Local Chocolate Review

Written by
Ev Richardson
and
Aaron King
and
February 7, 2023
Sustainable and Local Chocolate Review

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, for whatever that’s worth. Regardless of how you feel about the heart-spangled holiday, it is (at the very least) an excellent excuse to enjoy some chocolate. Like most things about the occasion, though, even that can get complicated - worker’s rights violations, environmental degradation, and exploitative trade practices might very well be some unlisted ingredients on that heart-shaped box of chocolates. If you want to enjoy your chocolate conscientiously, but you’re not sure where to start, we’ve assembled this helpful guide to compare and contrast some of the ethically sourced and vegan chocolates available locally.

GiddyYo xXx Dark Chocolate (89% cacao, 62g, $5.79)

  • Single origin, Ecuadorian 
  • Pear and floral notes at the front, then ends more bitter with an almost peppery or smokey flavour. 
  • Is not officially organic or Fair Trade certified, but as per their website they compensate above Fair Trade levels. 
  • Manufactured in Orangeville, Ontario by Giddy Yo. 

Camino Bittersweet Noir (71% cacao, 100g, $5.99)

  • Similar in aroma to Endangered bar. 
  • Noticeably sweeter, with honey notes. 
  • Organic and Fair Trade certified, made in Switzerland 

Endangered Species Dark Chocolate (88% cacao, 85g, $5.29)

  • Nice aroma, with notes of earl grey (black tea and citrus) and vanilla 
  • Product of the USA, Fair Trade certified. Non-GMO. 
  • Donates ten percent of their net profits to wildlife and conservation non-profit organizations.
  • As per their website: “We source our cocoa from small family-owned co-ops in West Africa that simply do not have the resources to afford organic certification. We feel confident that our cocoa is grown sustainably with little to no usage of pesticides.”

Alter Eco Super Blackout (90% cacao, 75g, $4.99) 

  • Waxy mouthfeel, similar to cheaper chocolate confections 
  • Very cacao forward flavour. Mushroom and red fruit notes. 
  • Organic, Carbon Neutral supply chain, Fair Trade, Cert B Corp, Climate Neutral 
  • Made in Switzerland

Chocosol Forest Garden Vanilla (83% cacao, 75g, $6.99)

  • Hadn’t realized that there were cacao nibs in the bar, and honestly they didn’t bring much in the way of texture  
  • Based in Toronto (and as such pays Toronto rents on their shop), and as per their website, ChocoSol pays approximately US$2.50 more per kilogram of cacao than the FairTrade minimum price.
  • As per their website: “Small organic certification is currently not feasible for many of our small-scale partner communities. This means that not all our ingredients are certified organic.” 

We won’t pass judgment as to which bar was the best, given individual taste preferences. However, we hope that this guide can be helpful in opening your mind to the range of experiences available in artisanal, dairy-free chocolate. Speaking of experiences, we recommend you try these bars, and then try pairing your favorites with other artisanal, mindfully-sourced products such as coffee, tea, or alcoholic beverages. 

A final reminder: Shopping locally is the final step of an ethical supply chain, and we did our local chocolate shopping at Kelcey’s Nutrition Centre of Hunter Street East. This is by no means a comprehensive tasting - Kelcey’s had a larger variety available than just these selections. We limited ourselves to high-percentage dark chocolate, to establish a baseline of flavor and quality. Each of the brands we tried also offers lower percentage bars and additional flavors, many of which are available at Kelcey’s.

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