We love our chocolate! As a nation, Britain consumes more chocolate than any other country in Europe. Many of us cannot imagine getting through the day without our daily chocolate fix. We argue that a little chocolate every day is good for us.
As Easter approaches, some of us may be looking forward to the opportunity to over-indulge. There’s something so wonderful about an Easter Egg that appeals to the child inside each of us. Just like chocolate coins at Christmas and a box of chocolates on Mother’s Day and a chocolate heart on Valentine’s Day and chocolate cake to celebrate a birthday at work….there always seems to be an excuse when we want one, doesn’t there?
So yes, chocolate can be good for you. Well, cacao is anyway. Cacao is full of flavonoids, rich in iron and magnesium and a good source of sulphur. Cacao can help regulate blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and build the immune system. Eating dark chocolate can reduce stress levels. It contains calcium too that contributes to bone health.
However, before you pop along to the shop for another chocolate bar, just hold on a minute and think about the options. Not the choice between a Mars Bar or a Twix, but there’s a whole world of chocolate out there waiting to be discovered. Mindful chocolate.
Mindful because it takes some thinking about. It takes some planning. You may not be able to buy it from the corner shop or the vending machine. Mindful too because it involves a different way of thinking. Stepping away from habit and the norm and the pressures of advertising. This chocolate will taste different from what you’re used to, but probably more like chocolate is intended to taste. And different can be good, right? Really, really good.
Mindful too because it encourages you to think beyond taste, price and convenience. It encourages you to consider your options – fair trade, raw, organic, vegan, free from refined sugar, handmade in the UK… There’s a good reason for choosing an alternative chocolate, a reason that supports people and planet.
Here are twenty companies producing delicious chocolate for you to discover:-
This gorgeous range of handmade chocolate contains no nasties but boasts serious amounts of cacao! On her website, Sharon explains that she was raised on ‘proper chocolate’ (she has Argentinean roots), and gets frustrated by the damage commercial companies cause to what is in reality a super food. So she trained as a chocolatier in South West France and now runs the Chocolate Boutique, in Stowmarket, Suffolk.
The bad news for most of us is that this ethically sourced chocolate with a guaranteed high cacao content is not available online. But the website is so informative and attractive that we had to include it – and have started planning our trip to Stowmarket already! Ordering online will be available from next year, so watch this space!
A selection of delicious chocolate handmade in the UK by a specialist chocolatier in Dorset, including raw organic chocolate. What makes this particular chocolate so special is that each bar is wrapped in original art work designed by an artist with complex epilepsy coupled with other disabling problems. ARTHOUSE Meath is a project run by the Meath Epilepsy Trust.
Founded in the small village of Lesmahagow in Scotland, Choc-a-Lot by Karuna specialises in making fine artisan handmade chocolates, including plain, flavours, vegan, gluten free and moulded 3D chocolates. We love the dark chocolate hearts with embossed messages and cannot wait for Valentine’s Day to come around again!
Artisan chocolates, organic couverture bars, craft chocolate made using directly-traded heritage cacao beans, premium hot chocolate and spreads and beautiful hand-crafted Easter eggs. Based in Scotland, this growing company connects customers with the whole process and origin through authentic transparency on their attractive, informative website.
Conscious chocolate is organic raw handmade chocolate, created from premium quality, organic, raw and primarily wild ingredients. The whole of the Conscious Chocolate range is vegan, vegetarian and organically certified, free from gluten, free from dairy, free from soya, free from refined sugars, low gi and gl index. Oh, and delicious too!
Divine is 44% owned by the cocoa farmers themselves and sets out to empower women cocoa farmers. The Divine website is a delight – we could lose ourselves in there for hours! It’s good to know that the entire Divine chocolate range, including the delectable mini eggs, contains cocoa from Kuapa Kokoo, a co-operative of cocoa farmers in Ghana, sugar from Kasinthula, a Fairtrade co-operative in Malawi and creamy vanilla from Fairtrade farmers in Madagascar.
Equal Exchange is a worker co-operative dedicated to the promotion of Fair Trade and organic production methods – a force for change since its beginnings in 1979. Equal Exchange chocolate is organically grown and fairly traded, always small farmer grown in the Dominican Republic, Peru and Ecuador.
The Fabulous Freefrom Factory aims to create dairy free sweet treats that taste just as good as regular chocolate. The tempting Chocovered Raisins, Crunchee Bites and Nuttee Bites are all therefore vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.
Green and Black’s Maya Gold was the first ever chocolate bar to be awarded the Fairtrade mark back in 1994. This brand prides itself on being consistently commended for successfully combining ethical credentials with style. All the chocolate bars and Easter Eggs are organic and fair trade – we’d like the Dark Chocolate Easter Tasting Collection please!
The stylish packaging of the Loving Earth chocolate collection is as simple as the bars themselves – raw and organic, with no refined sugar in sight. Handmade in Melbourne, Australia, but available here in the UK. Look out for this range in Planet Organic stores across the country.
Montezuma’s is all about chocolate, with a real chocolate club for you to join to get chocolate through your letterbox every month! There’s something for everyone here – you can even build your own personalised chocolate bar. The Organic Dark Chocolate Giant Buttons are suitable for vegans, great for passing around a group of friends – if you can bear to share!
As the name suggests, Moo Free chocolates are entirely dairy free. And gluten free, wheat free, soya free, vegan and organic too. And there are cool Easter Eggs. Using rice milk, this dairy free chocolate actually tastes like chocolate. You can’t buy Moo Free direct but the Moo Free Stockist Search works well and will point you in the right direction. Ethical Superstore has an online selection of Moo Free treats all year round.
According to Ombar, not all chocolate is created equal. The team there can’t understand why anyone would roast away all the goodness, when cacao is so incredible just as it is. So all Ombar chocolate is raw chocolate, made using 100% organic cacao. And it’s all vegan too. There’s a range of great flavours to choose from. Today, we would choose Blueberry and Acai – how about you?
Organica is part of a small independent company called Venture Foods Ltd, which prides itself on its certified organic status and approval by the Vegetarian society. The ‘milky’ choc bar and white bar are both vegan, as are the four dark chocolate snack bars: choose from apricot, marzipan, coconut or hazelnut.
Plamil has been making chocolate in its own ‘no nuts’ factory for decades and pride themselves on being the only chocolate factory to be powered by 100% renewable energy in the UK. All the chocolate bars are dairy free and gluten free. The no added sugar chocolate is sweetened with Xylitol and suitable for diabetics. Organic and Fair Trade chocolate bars are also available.
The beautifully wrapped Seed and Bean chocolate bars are all organic, all fair trade, and all handmade in England. All the dark chocolate is suitable for vegans – we can’t wait to try the Lemon & Cardamom, Mandarin & Ginger and Orange & Thyme. They sound intriguing and adventurous, don’t they?
Traidcraft has been involved in fair trade chocolate since the 1980s and sold the first fair trade chocolate bar in the UK. Traidcraft works closely with its suppliers, those small-scale cocoa farmers in Peru, Bolivia, Ivory Coast and the Dominican Republic. Traidcraft sells the Real Easter Egg in milk and dark chocolate which tells the Easter Story.
Vego is a German company which produces a vegan chocolate bar, made with the finest Italian hazelnut paste, hazelnut cocoa cream and whole hazelnuts. Vego vegan chocolate is Fairtrade labelled, organic and gluten-free. Vego chocolate is available on various UK websites, including Amazon.
VIVANI’s range of organic chocolates is produced at the family business of Ludwig Weinrich, which relies on more than a century of experience in producing the finest chocolate creations. The dark chocolate bar are suitable for vegans, as is the Rice Choc Bar, made with vegan rice drink powder. The Where to Buy page on the website has a list of online stockists in the UK, including Planet Organic and Suma Wholefoods.
Willie seems to be a real character and his website is full of character too. You could literally spend a whole evening reading about Willie’s adventures, discovering the fascinating history of chocolate and drooling over the recipes before going to bed with very sweet dreams. The company has a relaxed approach to fair trade and organic certification, because of the intimate, natural relationship between supplier and Willie himself. Willie’s Cacao chocolate products are available all over the world and you’ll come across them in Caffe Nero amongst other places!
There’s a world of chocolate out there waiting to be discovered. Maybe paying more for the highest quality chocolate will go hand in hand with consuming less – but enjoying it just as much. Chocolate is one of the great pleasures of life to be enjoyed mindfully and consciously.
So go ahead, take your time considering your options.
Do your research.
And have fun choosing your new favourite!