A Sweet Treat

This post is in paid partnership with Traidcraft.

A Sweet Treat | Lifestyle Post by Anika May | anikamay.co.uk

 

I like to treat myself. I think it’s good to treat yourself and give yourself a little love from time to time. There are lots of things I can think of to treat myself, a new book, a new bag, or even a new phone. But, sometimes I like to keep it simple (and cheap), so I go with a bar of chocolate instead.

I know chocolate is one of the most popular and delicious treats known to man, and there’s really a lot to consider when choosing a bar of chocolate – milk (always a winner) or dark (I just can’t). Milk is always the way forward to me, I know dark is better for you but its way too rich for me to handle!

Anyway, while inhaling my chocolate treat today, I started to wonder where chocolate actually comes from. I remember studying it in school all those years ago, and I remember to always look for the Fair Trade logo, but I don’t actually much about the whole system.

 

A Sweet Treat | Lifestyle Post by Anika May | anikamay.co.uk

 

People in the UK consume about three bars of chocolate a week (not a shock), so I did a little research into how the Fair Trade system helps all those wonderful farmers across the world.

Fun fact: São Tomé is known as “Chocolate Island” – if only the UK had a cool nickname like that. Only 200,000 people live there (which is about a quarter of the population of Leeds), and a lot of their income comes from the criollo bean, which is the signature bean of the island.

One thing I never knew is that chocolate require specific environmental condition, which is why Bolivia has an entire history of cultivating cocoa. But it’s also good to note there are six million farmers across Africa, Asia and Latin America that work hard every day to bring chocolate to the rest of the world.

El Ceibo is an association that works with 50 co-operatives across Bolivia and reaches out to 1,500 farmers from different ethnic backgrounds. So the money earnt from their own Fair Trade cocoa is used to fund a programme which replaces cocoa plants and deforestation.

 

A Sweet Treat | Lifestyle Post by Anika May | anikamay.co.uk

 

I like to think of myself as a conscious consumer in every aspect, including food. I think it’s good to find out the often-missed details about the things we buy and take in, because we can find out how to give back to the people who work tirelessly to produce for us, and how to support the earth we live on.

There are so many food documentaries and articles to help educate people on the food, clothing and other material things they purchase and consume, and I think as a whole, the world is becoming a little more conscious about the way they shop and eat.

Traditional chocolate has milk, soya, sugars and a whole bunch of preservatives which is what makes it so addictive. Traidcraft’s fair trade chocolate isn’t raw chocolate (which is just a few ingredients) but is as natural as possible, organic, free from GMOs.

Cocoa beans for raw chocolate aren’t supposed to be heated above 42 degrees but commercial companies roast them at 400 degrees! Cocoa is usually fermented, dried and roasted before being pressed to get cocoa powder for chocolate. Cacao is basically the same thing, just roasted at a lower temperature.

A Sweet Treat | Lifestyle Post by Anika May | anikamay.co.uk

A Sweet Treat | Lifestyle Post by Anika May | anikamay.co.uk

The big question I always had was whether or not cocoa farmers have ever tasted their own chocolate or even like it. Apparently, most the beans are shipped immediately to be made into chocolate, and a lot of cocoa farmers have never tasted chocolate in their lives.

I guess it makes sense, Linda (who grows fair trade cocoa for Divine Chocolate) says any chocolate lying around in Ghana would just melt away anyway.

I like chocolate in the many forms in comes in – a solid bar, a slice of cake or a cosy drink. Back in the day cocoa beans were worth more than gold, and they’re just as valuable to me now. As a child, I was absolutely addicted to hot chocolate, and I haven’t really grown out of it.

Cocoa originally comes from Theobroma Cacao trees which grow most successfully in a narrow band called the Cocoa Belt or the Chocolate Belt (another cool nickname).  This band extends up to 20 degrees north and south of the equator which is a couple thousand miles from me, but produces some of the most delicious snacks in the world.

So behind Fair Trade chocolate that’s available today, were are 1.65 million farmers working hard to produce the 670,000 tonnes of chocolate we scoff every week. Just knowing that helps me to appreciate that sweet treat so much more.

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This post is in paid partnership with Traidcraft.