Friday, October 28, 2005

Equal Exchange Chocolate

Name: Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate
Brand: Equal Exchange
Place Purchased: samples from Equal Exchange (thanks!)
Price: $3.50 each
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 155-160
Type: Chocolate

I was really excited about doing this review. While I enjoy candy of all kinds, especially chocolate, it’s hard sometimes to balance that with not destroying the earth and human lives. Fair Trade is only recently developing as a mainstream option for many products. For those of you not familiar with the concept, first you have to remember that cocoa pods from which chocolate is made are grown in tropical regions all over the planet and require a large amount of space and time to cultivate. Those regions also happen to be ones where farmers are particularly poor and have fewer economic opportunities. I cannot claim to be an expert on this subject, but it seems to me that the folks growing cocoa, which is not necessary for life, should at least be paid a living wage for it and not be exposed to terrible working conditions. Since chocolate and candy is a luxury item, it seems to make the most sense to start with it and coffee and teas as a way of changing the lives of those in these areas.

Of course the most important thing about sending a message with your pocketbook is that the product be good. Good intentions are nice, but if the chocolate isn’t good enough for me to want more, I’m not going to buy it just because it’s the right thing to do because wasting food is also bad. (The next step, of course, is to have it easily accessible, too.) So, instead of skipping to the bottom for the verdict, I’ll say that these are worth the trouble of finding them.

The bars are not only fair trade, but made from all organic ingredients, including the sugar (which is organic raw and unrefined cane sugar) and nuts. Also, for those who are wondering, it’s certified Kosher. Inside the plain wrapper (which has some wonderful information inside about Fair Trade and Equal Exchange) the bar itself is sealed in a mylar like white plastic wrapper that seals out odors and keeps the chocolate fresh. The chocolate is made it Switzerland.

Organic Dark Chocolate with Almonds: a wonderful aroma arose when I opened this package. The chocolate is shiny and smooth and has a great snap and smelled chocolately, a little sweet and perfumy. Inside are lightly crushed (chopped?) almonds. The chocolate itself is 55% cocoa mass and has some wonderful fruity notes like you’d find in a good red wine. Not overly smoky or dry, it has a nice smooth finish was the cocoa mass is exceptionally smooth. For me, this bar rivals the Chocovic Ocumare.

 

Organic Very Dark Chocolate: incredibly dense, with immediate earthy tones, this is a very dark bar with 71% cocoa mass. The bar has a good snap and an incredibly smooth melt. There’s a noticeable acid note as it yields on the tongue and gives up more fruity flavors like apricot and cherry. The finish is dry and not at all sticky or sweet. But like I experienced with the Chocovic Guaranda, there are no middle notes to round out the flavor.

 

Organic Milk Chocolate: for fans of dairy milk chocolates, such as Cadbury, you’ll be very happy with this bar. It’s very much in keeping with the traditional Swiss milk chocolate. The first ingredient is not chocolate (that’s 38% though), it’s Whole Milk Powder. So, this is milky stuff, kind of sticky and though not overly sweet, it’s not a good association for me. That aside, this chocolate is exceptionally smooth and has nice cocoa undertones give the whole bar a toasty feeling. I think what does that is that one of the ingredients is ground hazelnuts ... not a lot of it, but it’s a nice nutty complement.

Ratings: Milk & Very Dark - 7 out of 10
Dark Chocolate with Almonds - 8 out of 10 (if I could pick this up at a local store I’d give it a 9)

More about Fair Trade on Equal Exchange’s site & Wikipedia.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:09 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewEqual ExchangeChocolateEthically SourcedNutsOrganic7-Worth It8-TastySwitzerland

Comments
  1. Cybele's avatar

    Bryan - this brand currenly is only available on their site. Green & Black also has a fair trade bar (just the Maya Gold at the moment) and I have some other bars from Divine I’ll try to put up in the next few weeks that are also fair trade. Mail order is probably the best bet right now, but I think a lot of markets are starting to carry them.

    I even saw a post on Slashfood that mentioned that McDonald’s will start brewing fair trade coffee in the NE US soon.

    Comment by Cybele on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  2. These seem to be pretty cool… i gotta say that sometimes i find myself morally trapped because i’m always writing about cheap food and that doesn’t often equate well with fair trade, saving rainforests, etc. Many of my older relatives grew up picking coffee in Kona though, and I always hear the stories of how hard that work was. So it gives me some pause whenever I buy coffee or chocolate for cheap.

    Is it only available directly from Equal Exchange?

    Comment by Bryan on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  3. I may buy these just to keep that smile on the farmhand’s face! He looks so happy!

    Maybe if we can start paying a decent and fair price for chocolate and coffee, the farmers in the Amazon won’t be cutting it down to produce more soy.

    Comment by russ on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  4. Bryan -

    In addition to partnering with small farmers, Equal Exchange works closely with local businesses.  Probably one or two in your neighborhood!

    You can contact Equal Exchange directly to find out the nearest goodies.  (774)776-7333

    (We just used EE as a fundraiser for our school student government, so I am heartily drinking their Kool-Aid these days)

    Comment by Tybor on 12/17/05 at 8:22 am #
  5. The Equal Exchange Milk bar is perfect for smores.  The creamy chocolate and the hint of nuts really works well in the classic outdoor treat.

    Comment by Teague on 3/06/09 at 4:36 pm #

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