Like it or loathe it: for many people today, Easter means chocolate and lots of it. But are all eggs created equal?
Fancy going green this easter? Here are some things to consider when choosing chocolatey treats:
- Fairtrade: How are the working conditions for the cocoa and sugar growers? Do they get a fair deal?
- Palm oil: What impact does palm oil production have on tropical rainforests and the indigenous people who rely on them for their survival? (NB. Palm oil is sometimes hidden under “vegetable oil” in ingredients lists.)
- Animal welfare: The production of milk chocolate usually involves cows’ milk, and animal welfare standards can vary greatly between different countries.
- Packaging: Recycling’s good but reducing is better. Some packaging is non-recyclable.
So how do the brands compare?
The issue of ethics is a complex and frustrating one as different organisations have different priorities regarding ethics; but based on the writing and research of various ethical living and consumer websites (see sources below), here is a general overview of which companies I’d be inclined to support and which I’m inclined to avoid.
- Unsurprisingly, popular brands aimed at children such as Cadbury’s (including the beloved creme egg), Galaxy and Mars haven’t fared particularly well in the Ethical Consumer’s guide to Easter eggs, but at the very bottom of the list are Aero, Smarties and Kit Kat, all of which are made by Nestle which has never enjoyed a good reputation for social responsibility. While many of these popular brands have cut down on packaging and are using more recycled card than ever before, there is still room for improvement.
- The Co-operative Fairtrade chocolate generally gets high ratings though it appears that their chocolate eggs are no longer fairtade.
- Disappointingly, luxury brand Lindt (one of my personal favourites) seemed to fare particularly badly in the ethical stakes in 2013 in spite of their evocative adverts and cutesy bunnies. Although they are careful to avoid excess packaging, they “reportedly supplied inaccurate figures to Ethical Consumer” regarding their palm oil content. Since then, Lindt has attempted to clean up its image gaining certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, though the standards set by this organisation are considered lacking by many NGOs.
- Luckily, I am also partial to Divine chocolate which is deemed to be among the most ethical producers. Divine is 45% owned by the cocoa farmers themselves which gives them a bigger say in how the company is run while providing them with a significant share of the profits which they can then use to enhance their local communities. Divine eggs are free from artificial preservatives, colourings and flavourings and suitable for vegetarians.
- Booja Booja also tops the list. Established in 1999, all of their products are organic and vegan (certified by the Soil Association and the Vegan Society). Made in Norfolk, they are dairy, soya and gluten-free.
- Dubble was another hit but ceased production in 2014 having played a significant role in changing attitudes and helping to pave the way for other ethical chocolatiers to carry on the good work.
- Thorntons are considered to be in the middle range by Ethical Consumer while Green and Blacks are rated somewhat lower than I expected though still higher than some other mainstream brands.
Top brands for an ethical Easter:
Give your kid a Fairtrade banana. Doesn’t appeal? Read on…
- Give chocolate bars instead of eggs. Easter eggs are full of air. You’ll get more for your money and less packaging will be wasted.
- Put Divine mini-eggs and other ethical chocolates in bowls for decorative treats.
- Decorate your own Easter eggs using vegetable dyes, locally-sourced free-range eggs and re-used ribbons. (Don’t forget to eat them when you’re done displaying them.)
- Make your own Easter treats. Chocolate cake goes down well in our family and we are lucky enough to be able to use fresh eggs from our very own backyard hens.
- Hide your tasty treats around the house or garden for some Easter fun.
- Check out what’s on in Fife this Easter.
- Try a 2013 Easter chocolate quiz, just for fun.
Happy Easter all!
Further links and sources:
Homepage image: “Belarusian Easter Eggs” by Viktar Pałściuk – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Belarusian_Easter_Eggs.jpg#/media/File:Belarusian_Easter_Eggs.jpg|