With Halloween fast approaching, it’s time to prepare for the inevitable rush of trick-or-treaters by stocking up on chocolate, adding devilish decorations to your home and choosing a creepy costume. But before buying any Halloween candy, take a minute to think about where chocolate comes from, and at what cost to the environment and farming communities across the globe.
Cocoa is native to South America, but is now grown predominantly in West Africa, Southeast Asia, Brazil and Ecuador. Like coffee, cocoa can thrive under the shade of the forest canopy, where is supports biodiversity by providing habitat for threatened plant and animal species, protecting natural pollinators and creating biological corridors.
Photo: Rainforest Alliance
Unfortunately, many cocoa farmers live in poverty and clear cut the forests to grow cocoa more intensively under the sun. While this initially increases yields, it’s far from sustainable and has a devastating effect on the environment, resulting in loss of wildlife habitat, soil erosion and decreased soil fertility. In addition, sun-grown cocoa requires heavy use of agrochemicals.
The Rainforest Alliance is working in the West African countries of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana -- the world's largest cocoa producing nations -- to transform the way small farmers manage their land, and in turn, the kind of cocoa that winds up in your favorite Halloween candy. The Rainforest Alliance also trains cocoa farmers in Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Peru to grow their crops in a way that maximizes yields and environmental benefits while promoting the rights of workers and their families. This ensures that poor farmers can earn a decent living from their land while protecting their environment.
Well-managed cocoa farms can earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal of approval by meeting the comprehensive criteria set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network. This seal is a guarantee that farmers are protecting the environment and the rights and welfare of workers.
Photo: J Henry Fair
You can support farmers and farm workers worldwide who are working to improve their livelihoods and those of their families while protecting the planet. This Halloween stock up on chocolate treats that feature the Rainforest Alliance’s green frog seal. Want more tips for how you can enjoy a spooky and sustainable holiday? Check out the Rainforest Alliance’s five tips for a green Halloween:
1) Choose Rainforest Alliance Certified™ chocolate for Halloween treats. To help support healthy farmlands, forests and wildlife habitat -- as well as the well-being of farm workers and their communities -- look for chocolate that features the Rainforest Alliance Certified green frog seal! Find certified chocolate here.
2) Make demonic decorations from Rainforest Alliance/Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and cardboard. FSC certified wood products come from well-managed forests that protect wildlife habitat as well as the rights and well-being of forest workers. You can find FSC certified products at Staples, Office Depot and Home Depot. Find a full list of FSC products here.
3) Teach your kids where their favorite chocolate treats come from and how they impact people, wildlife and the planet. Visit the Rainforest Alliance’s Kids’ Corner! Play the online game Track it Back to learn where the cocoa in chocolate is grown and how it is harvested! Also visit our virtual rainforest, “Living in the Chocó Forests of Ecuador: The Chachi Cocoa Farmers.” (Brush up on your own knowledge about cocoa farming here.)
4) Ensure your little trick-or-treaters collect candy using reusable bags. Even better, use Rainforest Alliance reusable bags -- your gift with a $50 donation -- and they can promote our conservation work at every house they haunt!
5) Make terrifyingly tasty treats with Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate, bananas and coffee. Check out our list of “Haunted Halloween Recipes” and find out where you can find ingredients from certified farms.