We buy over 100 billion US dollars worth of chocolate every year. Which I totally understand, because chocolate.
When I went searching for reasons why chocolate isn't good for the earth, my heart sank. Did you know that 70% of the world's cocoa beans come from West Africa? An estimated 2 million children are used for hazardous labor and a lot of deforestation has taken place to make way to feed the sweet teeth around the world.
But if you buy certified fair trade chocolate, cocoa doesn't seem to be the big problem anymore.
When I started my Ecosia search, the first articles I found started with 'say goodbye to chocolate: 8 of the worst foods' and 'the most toxic, worst candy you should never eat'.
That sounds pretty alarming, doesn't it? And yes, the pro-chocolate bloggers are right: cocoa is good for ya bods. Its very rich in anti-oxidants, fighting 'free radicals' in your body, and the healthiest ingredient in your bar. All of the other ingredients will mess up your diet - and the world.
Back in the 17th and 18th century, millions of Africans were enslaved to work on American sugar plantations and it's retained a bad name ever since. And the horrible situation on the plantations haven't fully resolved themselves - child labor and extremely low wages are still used to produce as much cocoa as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Let's talk sugar and health, because it's bad. Very bad.
Yes, chocolate can really give you pimples. All this sugar intake increases sebum production, which can trigger inflammatory responses in the body, giving you breakouts. The added sugar also has no nutritional value, which raises your blood sugar level and can lead to developing diabetes, and of course, weight gain. Sugar also has a serious effect on your teeth and eating a lot of it can decay your teeth.
Next to chocolate maybe containing 'undeclared toxins' like cadmium and nickel, chocolate can also contain harmful bacteria called Enterobacteriaceae, which can have a negative effect on your guts.
And chocolate's saturated fats can increase your cholesterol level, which can eventually lead to strokes and heart disease.
To be honest, I find this all a bit far stretched, because what about all the OTHER CRAP we consume? Fish with micro-plastics, candies made with pig fats, alcohol with loads of sugar.... Chocolate can't be that much worse for your body than all the other stuff we eat/drink/breath/put on our skin?
What actually stood out for me, was learning that the milk/milk powder and cream used in your chocolate are extremely harmful for the planet. I knew that we should lower our dairy intake for a better planet, but never understood the scope of the chocolate industry in this.
2.4% of all food and drink related greenhouse gas emissions in the UK are related to chocolate. Food Research International has done an impact study, and found that the biggest culprit is milk production. Of all raw materials used in chocolate, 31-46% of it's impact is solely milk production.
So what to do?
Keep on buying that fairtrade chocolate, but try buying vegan/dark chocolate more. Lower your dairy intake this way, and the planet will be grateful. Lower your sugar intake this way, and you body will be grateful.
Which brands to buy?
Read my reviews on sustainable and vegan chocolates: