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Top 5 Sustainable Dark Chocolate Bars

Give the gift of dark chocolate to yourself, your loved ones, the global environment, and the worldwide social sphere.

From an individual nutrition standpoint, dark chocolate has been deemed by health experts to be among the healthiest desserts. This decadent pleasure is rich in essential minerals and flavanols, which may collectively promote heart health and reduce the risk of chronic disease when chocolate is consumed in moderation.

In addition to benefiting your own body, exerting your power of consumer choice may promote social justice and environmental sustainability. Bean to bar chocolate production is inherently labor - and land - intensive, leading to exploitation of farmworkers, violations of child labor laws, and degradation of ecological biodiversity. Thus, opting for and promoting fair or direct trade and organic brands can help to push the chocolate market in a positive direction.

In this year's post-Valentine’s rush, take a moment to luxuriate in the top 5 sustainable dark chocolates for gifting or savoring solo. Each of these delicious chocolates corresponds to a different classical taste: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. In consuming each distinctive chocolate, practice mindful eating by using all five senses. Look at the chocolate, feel its texture, listen to its hardness upon breaking, smell its unique scent, and taste it as it melts on the tongue. Finally, take a moment to reflect upon the sensational experience and its impact on your state of mind.

Read on for yummy details on taste profiles on each. You can take utter delight in these sweet treats and explore your senses to their full potential with the reassurance that your chocolate habit is promoting to your own nutritional health, environmental sustainability, and global social justice.

1. Sweet…

Why? This dark chocolate bar is a perfect concoction of sweetness with a kick of spice. The chocolate starts strong, with a mild Ancho and Chipotle chili spice that will dance upon your taste buds. This playful spice then melts within the moderate (55% cacao) dark chocolate mold to reveal bursts of cherry sweetness. This sweet and easy, socially-responsible chocolate finally leaves you nibbling on its chewy candied cherries in sheer satisfaction. Bonus for literary junkies: Chocolove chocolate bars are each delicately wrapped in a thoughtful love poem. You’ll end your bar singing praises in the form of Shakespearian love sonnets for your chocolate experience:

“So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

- William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 (totally written about Chocolove chocolate, right?).

2. Salty…

Why? This chocolate is a refined version of kid-candy chocolate-covered pretzels for all salty-sweet comfort seekers. Made of four pure and simple organic ingredients, this guilt-free chocolate feels simultaneously nourishing and sinful. Crystals of sea salt are delicately laced into rich (70%) dark chocolate of Ecuadorian cacao. The bar tastes so close to its native origin that you can perceive notes of exotic fruit as you visualize the cacao trees from which the chocolate was harvested. This fair trade chocolate will leave you refreshed and in tropical radiance, inspired from your sea-salty moment of chocolate imagination.

3. Sour…

Why? Endangered Species chocolatiers describe this intriguing choice as reminiscent of “fresh baked muffins”. While oven-warmed lemon poppy seed baked goods straight from grandma’s recipe vault may be a bit of a stretch, this interesting chocolate certainly will make you do a double taste. Distinctively acidic lemony goodness is the first obvious taste to hit your buds. This zesty flavor smooths into lusciously fruity moderate (60%) dark chocolate velvet. Finally, amidst this deeply creamy mouthfeel, you will note the surprising punctuation of pebbly poppy seeds. Your journey in rainforest chocolate paradise ends with a satisfied awareness that your taste buds have been graced with a fair-trade, animal-friendly adventure with 10% of all Endangered bar profits donated to keeping wildlife thriving.

4. Bitter…

Why? Taza Coffee Chocolate is a cultural history lesson in a chocolate mold. This chocolate is far too cool to be square. Instead, it is boldly circular. It’s disc-shape imitates classical formation of ancient Aztec chocolate that was once melted into liquid form for sacred consumption. Upon tasting the disc chocolate, Counter Culture’s sustainable coffee immediately demands attention. The coffee’s bitter roasted notes then intermingle with the sweet, moderate (55%) dark chocolate. While these complex flavors melt together in your mouth, sugar crystals pop on your tongue. Your mouth is left with a bittersweet, granular sandy residue that is a unique feature of this chocolate’s stone-grinding process. What’s more, this craft chocolate is paving the pathway of direct trade, which promotes fair wages to cacao farmers by entirely eliminating the middleman in trade. Dark, confident, and unrefined, this chocolate is your ultimate wake-up call (not to mention the caffeine!) to social justice.

5. Umami…

Why? This bar is the quintessential adult rice crispy. Its dangerously deep dark (85%) chocolate matrix is interspersed with puffed black Forbidden Rice from Lotus Foods. These plush, hollow grains stand out upon the first bite, making it irresistible to crunch down instead of allowing the chocolate to gradually melt. If the temptation to munch down does not win you over, the rich chocolate softens to reveal inflated quinoa kernels. Taken together, you will imagine these two chocolate-drowned grains as staples of a perfect umami or savory meal that ends in luscious vanilla bean finishing notes for dessert. Finally, you will be flooded with an aftertaste of appreciation that this fair trade and organic chocolate grows from cacao trees which have roots that are watered by passion and grounded by belief in human connection, transparency, and positive global change.

Photo credit: Pexels

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