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Do you buy the absolute best quality cocoa you can find? Here's why you should

If you're a chocoholic, here's how to become more educated and ethical about enjoying your daily treat.

by: Katelyn Williams of The Kate Tin | 26 Jul 2017

It was World Chocolate Day on the 7 July, which naturally means we’re celebrating for the whole month. Any objections? Thought not.

ALSO READ: 4 Unconventional but super tasty ways to cook with chocolate

But have you actually stopped and really thought about what goes into making that slab of chocolate that you devour in minutes? The amount of work? Where does the cocoa come from? I’m always amazed at how, as foodies, we want to know where the chicken we buy was farmed, or if the pig was treated ethically, but we are so far removed from chocolate, that we don’t spare it a thought. Yet it’s part of our daily lives and something most of us couldn’t live without.

As someone who has been to a cocoa farm in Tanzania and spoken to cocoa farmers, I urge you to think about the chocolate you’re buying. Cheap chocolate means cheap cocoa, which usually means the farmer is getting paid below the poverty line. Confused about cocoa and cacao? Cacao is simply the Spanish word for cocoa and the two words can be used interchangeably.  Cocoa can refer to any form of the bean - from its raw 'fruit like' state right through to it being roasted.

The farmers that I met in Tanzania told me they can actually earn more money growing bananas than cocoa. As someone who despises bananas, this alarms me. I don’t want to eat bananas! I want to eat chocolate! What would the world without chocolate even be like?!

So, what can we do to help? The cocoa/chocolate world is a complicated one (way too long to sum up here), but there are a few simple ways we, as chocoholics, can make a difference. Because let’s be honest, we eat a LOT of chocolate.

1. Be prepared to pay a little more for good-quality chocolate. Remember, cheap chocolate always comes at a price, and it’s usually at the farmer’s expense.

2. Support smaller bean-to-bar makers. Luckily here in South Africa, we are spoilt and have quite a few to choose from! My favourites: AFRIKOA, DV Chocolate, Cocoa Fair.

3. Ask the chocolate-makers where their cocoa beans come from. The more we ask for accountability and traceability with chocolate, the less likely the farmers will be taken advantage of.

4. Buy more chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa. The darker the better! The more cocoa we buy, the higher the demand, and the more the farmers get paid for their cocoa beans.

Remember how I said eat more chocolate? Here’s a recipe for you to get started: Double chocolate Milo cookies

This is my favourite chocolate cookie recipe – I’ve tried and tested hundreds but I always come back to this one. What’s so special about it? Well, it’s sort of shortbread-y, while being crispy and chewy at the same time, but the real secret is that half its weight is made of chocolate! Don’t bother letting them cool, sit down with the entire tray and eat them still-warm straight out the oven.

Click HERE for more of Food24's ultimate chocolate recipes!

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