Lost your appetite? Try the Fair Trade diet

Jenny Newman, Senior Staff Columnist

It’s probably a safe bet to say that almost no chocolate consumers have any idea about the origin of their chocolate. But right here, at Shalhevet, we are selling the products of slave labor in the Student Store and vending machines.

I ran every product at Shalhevet that contains cocoa through the Fair Trade website to see what products are and are not certified as being slave free. If you’re curious, the Fair Trade website (tinyurl.com/BPFAIRTRADESITE) allows you to search by type of product (coffee, chocolate, and so on), or search by the product’s name.

Fair Trade is a worldwide organization that certifies that acceptable labor conditions are being met, not just when it comes to chocolate but in products ranging from coffee to vegetables to cotton. There are other such certifications, but most have weaker standards; for Fair Trade, a product has to be 100 percent fairly grown.

Silk Chocolate Milk, sold in the vending machine, is not on the list. Neither are the Crunch bars or Twix, which are sold by the Student Store. Kit Kats produced by Nestle are Fair Trade, but the ones we sell are produced by Hershey’s, and don’t have that certification.

Starbucks, right across the street, has a Fair Trade certification on its chocolate bars (both dark and light) as well as its brownies (which are not kosher).  But their coffee drinks with chocolate are not Fair Trade, even though all of their coffee is. That means that their non-chocolate lattes, and their cappuccinos, as well as their plain coffee, are all great options for the conscious consumer.

But there is even more good news for people who don’t want to give up their chocolate fix (like me). It so happens that plenty of companies do have products that are slave free.

In addition to everything labeled Fair Trade, almost everything that’s organic is slave-free (as least when it comes to chocolate); Ivory Coast, where cocoa is farmed by child slaves, has no organic cocoa plantations. Some specific companies selling Fair Trade chocolate include Cliff Bar, The Endangered Species Chocolate Company and Newman’s Own.

Also carrying a Fair Trade certification are Trader Joe’s chocolate – source of the popular pareve semi-sweet chocolate chips used in many kosher recipes – and four flavors of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.