Heart-shaped box of Valentine chocolate

We know that Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to indulge in any number of ways. For your sweetheart or your own sweet tooth, you’re in good company if you chow down on chocolate. Americans will purchase around 58 million pounds of chocolate in February.

That number represents a lot of calories, but also a lot of jobs—38,794 people are employed by companies that produce chocolate and cocoa.

Some of the biggest companies American consumers patronize for heart-shaped boxes and other chocolate treats do more than just help us indulge—they have commitments to local communities, the environment, and more.

Let’s look at the social responsibility practices of some of the largest chocolate retailers.

The Hershey Company boasts plentiful programs in their “Better Life” campaigns, including family income and quality of life support for cocoa farmers in West Africa plus education support and environmental impact reduction; 97% of US production is at facilities that send zero waste to landfills; they use only sustainably sourced palm oil; team members commit volunteer hours to community action programs aimed at ending hunger; they have raised millions of dollars for charities; created schools and education facilities in Ghana.

Godiva supports West African cocoa farmers; is working toward 100% sustainable sourcing by 2020; works against forced labor and child labor; sponsors the Lady Godiva Program that supports women of the world and their causes.

See’s Candy has, since 1921, been dedicated to and actively engaged with local communities. They work with children’s health issues, creative education, and civil rights education. A member of the World Cocoa Community, they support raising the standards of living for farmers and advanced training initiatives. They source cocoa beans from Rainforest Alliance certified farms.

Russell Stover Candies is committed to operating in environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways, with a team dedicated to energy conservation. They insist all suppliers adopt sustainability measures, use recycled paper products in packaging, have recycling programs in all company facilities, and have a strict company code of conduct that addresses issues like child and forced labor and non-discrimination.

Lindt Ghirardelli has pioneering projects like responsible procurement practices in Africa, schools built for cocoa farmers, clean drinking water facilities for cocoa communities, and insistence on increasing levels of sustainability that are transparent and monitored by third parties.

So knowing that your chocolate could have positive impact on the world...and simultaneously some can have quite negative impacts on the world (source Fair Trade Chocolate here (just one of hundreds of brands selling fair trade, organic, GMO-free, healthy products in our store, evoxMarketplace.com) to be sure growers and other workers have a fair and sustainable quality of life), choose wisely. Hardly anyone is intentionally hurting the planet or people, but some companies place those concerns much lower on a list of priorities compared to profits and sales numbers. Your choice makes a difference.

Brand Category: 

About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF.org) and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (mentorartists.org). Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at www.ChangeByDoing.com. As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

Add new comment

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
9 + 4 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.