It’s gotten to be that time of year when my own mother stocks up- filling the freezer with those solid chocolate bunnies that are invading our grocery stores. She buys at least a dozen so that there’s one per month until next Easter. It seems this is the most economical method of obtaining mass amounts of her drug of choice.
While by definition chocolate must contain some cocoa which is technically an antioxidant, don’t misconstrue these facts as permission to consider solid brown eggs a health food. Any health claims you may hear of are based on the cocoa content: thus the higher percentage of cocoa, the more antioxidants you’re getting! In summary, the creamy milk chocolate & caramel eggs you see beside the cashier offer you nothing more than a spike in your blood sugar levels.
The sugar content in many springtime holiday confections is quite frankly abhorrent. Type 2 diabetes continues to be widely diagnosed in all age groups with up to 25% of seniors having developed the disease. Chronic abuse of sugar as a make-you-feel-better drug is exactly what can lead to developing blood sugar issues. Overly processed consumables as an increasingly large part of the norm in our country doesn’t help either. Choosing to steer your diet toward a whole foods model is not only better for your own health, but sets a great example for those around you.
Cocoa is an ingredient that many of us have in our pantries, crucial to baking a chocolate cake or muffins, but where does it come from? As with many things, it grows in nature, on a tree. Cocoa beans go through a complicated process of fermentation, drying, roasting, alkalization & transformation into a liquor before it can be made into the cocoa butter, powder or chocolate that we’re more familiar with. These beans grow in the climates of countries very different than our own. The farmers who grow this crop that many of us couldn’t imagine life without also live a lifestyle very different than our own. Over 14,000,000 of them. 67% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa where families grow & harvest the crop, yielding them between $30-100 a year per family member. Under Fairtrade International, farmers who abide by the regulations set by the organization receive a premium for growing cocoa that meets their standards. These regulations vary by crop as Fairtrade International isn’t specific to cocoa, though they do include no forced or child labour, restriction of chemicals in growing the crop & encouragement of sustainable growing practices. Choosing to support companies who make products that use fairtrade ingredients supports our global ecosystems and assists developing nations in furthering themselves economically.
In short, the bunnies & foil wrapped eggs hiding around the house are probably not an ideal choice, though there are alternatives. Check out our local health food store Ave Maria for organic, fair trade & other substitutes to the standard fare Easter treats.