Treat your Valentine to some great tasting chocolate and show you love the planet by choosing organic, fair trade chocolates that are sold in many local stores. If they are organic and fair trade products, they’re free of chemical pesticides and genetically engineered thickeners. And they aren’t made using abusive labor or farming practices.
One high-rated brand is Theo Chocolate, which can be found at Mrs. Green’s stores, Whole Foods, the Bronxville Natural Market, or online. Theo’s Artisan Confection Collection (12 pieces) costs $26.40 for amazing handmade ganache pieces, including lemon, mint, burnt sugar, noir, scotch, and hazelnut gianduja. Theo’s products are certified USDA organic, fair trade, kosher, gluten-free, and soy-free.
More organic chocolates and candies are available at Imagine Candy in Scarsdale.
Many boxed chocolates contain preservatives to extend their shelf life, but Theo chocolates and other organic brands don’t. But because they are preservative-free, the collection has only a ten-day shelf life.
Another eco-friendly choice is DAGOBA Organic chocolate bars, which are not only USDA organic, but are certified by the Rainforest Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works with farmers in Tanzania, the Dominican Republic, and Peru, to conserve biodiversity and promote their rights.
The bars, which can be purchased separately or in gift collections, feature some exotic ingredient combinations, like cacao nibs and chilies, or lavender and blueberries. The DAGOBA Best Sellers Gift Set at $17.95 includes New Moon, Lavender, Roseberry, Xocolatl, Milk, Dark, and Chai bars wrapped in a gold ribbon. Or you can assemble your own set locally at Mrs. Green’s or Whole Foods.
If you prefer to give a homemade Valentine gift, be sure to visit The DAGOBA website for some elegant and easy recipes for chocolate truffles and gorgeous almond fudge.
At neighborhood Trader Joe’s stores, you can buy fair trade, organic Belgian Chocolate Bars, in milk and dark ( 72% cacao) varieties. In taste tests, these bars did very well compared to other brands. And the price for a 3.5 ounce bar is just $1.99, which could bes the best value around. So you can’t go wrong making your own gift basket with several bars.
To stay on the healthy side, experts suggest avoiding chocolates filled with caramel, marshmallows, or toffee as these ingredients add to the calorie and saturated-fat count.
But the good news is that eating a little dark chocolate occasionally can be healthy.
The high concentrations of antioxidants, called flavanols, in chocolate, especially in the dark variety, are naturally-occurring compounds that seem to lower blood pressure and may aid blood flow to the brain and heart. And some recent controlled scientific studies show that for older women, one or two servings a week of high quality chocolate can be very good for the heart. But the romantics among us knew that already.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Photos courtesy TheoChocolate.com, dagobachocolate.com.