If you have ever strolled around the candy side of the market, you may have seen some chocolate brands bragging they are “fair trade.” But the word fair trade can be confusing for the average consumer. After all, in today’s food economy, there are a number of meaningless buzzwords food industries like to slap on their products to simply gain more sales. However, fair trade chocolate is something worth paying attention to when you’re shopping for your next sweet indulgence. Despite the joy these products bring to consumers, there’s a large chunk of the chocolate industry that uses unethical labor practices, including slavery. You might think slavery in the food industry is a thing of the past, but sadly, it isn’t.

Luckily, there’s an option for the ethical consumer, and that’s fair trade chocolate. Fair trade means a company pays fair prices to farmers and other exporters a company may use. In other words, the workers are paid money they can actually live on. This is important because many companies popular chocolate brands use pay severely low wages to their workers. Fair trade chocolate companies on the other hand, are much more likely to import their chocolate from suppliers that have ethical working conditions and pay their workers fairly.

Fair trade is important because you’re helping support companies that practice ethical working conditions and pay fairly. So, while you might not think a fair trade candy bar purchase means much, it actually is quite significant because your choice signifies preferences for slavery-free chocolate. Plus, it helps keep these fair trade companies alive so you can continue to indulge in your sweet tooth guilt-free.

In the past, big brand name chocolate companies have been called out for selling chocolate made by child laborers. According to The Daily Beast, two years ago, a class action lawsuit was filed against Hershey’s, Nestle, and Mars by three California residents. They claimed that the brands were guilty of false advertising, since they didn’t print on their packaging their use of child slavery. Therefore, consumers were unknowingly supporting child slave labor. 

Unfortunately, a lot of people either have no idea about the slavery problem chocolate has, or either do, and don’t think buying Fair Trade chocolate will make a difference. The lack of knowledge and misconceptions about fair trade help keep slavery alive in the chocolate industry. By raising awareness about this issue as well as choosing smaller fair trade brands over big ones, we can hopefully let big companies know that this is not OK. Plus, buying fair trade chocolate is easier than ever today.

There are plenty of fair trade brands offering delectable sweets that taste just as good as the big name-brand stuff. AlterEco, Amano, Rapunzel, Equal Exchange, and Tony’s Chocolonely are just some of the many brands of slavery-free chocolate. And if you’re worried fair trade chocolate could be hard to find, fear not! You don’t have to search low and high at the latest candy speciality shop to find fair trade chocolate. In fact, you can find at your local grocery store. Target offers Equal Exchange chocolate and SafeWay sells another ethical chocolate brand, Sweet Riot. Organic markets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are also a sure bet for finding fair trade chocolate to indulge your sweet tooth.

These awesome brands are helping make great chocolate ethically. With your new knowledge of Fair Trade, I hope you will make the choice to buy from fair trade brands in the future. Next time you’re in the grocery store, choose to satisfy your chocolate craving with a Fair Trade bar. Whether you choose to eat the chocolate alone or make some awesome chocolate chip cookies, you’ll have helped create a slavery-free chocolate industry. 

#SpoonTip: Check out this list of fair trade chocolate companies by FairTradeAmerica.org.