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Are You Getting Conned By Cheap & Toxic Chocolate?

15 dollars for 8 pieces of chocolate….?! That’s all I could think about on a recent trip to the mall while walking past the famous chocolatier, Godiva. Are you getting conned by this cheap & toxic chocolate company? I mean 15 dollars for 8 pieces of what? What is Godiva doing that make these chocolates so much more expensive than other brands of chocolate? Is it handcrafted? No. Is it made with organic milk and cream? No. What about real pure cane sugar? No. It must have real vanilla? No! (They actually use artificial vanilla made from a wood by-product!) And they obviously do not package their chocolate in a box made of real gold. So what is it?

It is marketing, marketing, marketing and trickery at its best!

Are these ingredients worth it?

Godiva chocolate has been tricking many of us for years into believing that paying a premium for chocolate means you are getting higher quality treats, but this can’t be further from the truth! Take a look at the ingredients in one of their chocolates and you’ll quickly realize what they’re selling are fancy-looking cheap ingredients wrapped up in a pretty gold box. How are they getting away with this? And what about all the other popular chocolate brands, are they selling us junk ingredients too?

Chocolate ingredients to look out for

Let’s be real here – eating chocolate on occasion is absolutely an okay treat – but there’s a lot of consideration that needs to be made when choosing how to get your fix. Unfortunately, our food system’s top priority is the bottom line so we need to pay attention to the ingredient label on every single product we buy. Chocolate can provide a daily dose of much needed antioxidants or it can be a chemistry experiment full of man-made artificial ingredients. I do not like supporting brands that try to trick me into buying questionable ingredients. Voting with your dollars is one of the only ways to voice disgust for the unhealthy chemicals in food, and it can also directly influence change by hitting the bottom line of the food companies that continue to sells us cheap, harmful, and potentially dangerous ingredients.
Just look at the ingredients in popular chocolate candy out there; they are despicable and it’s why I don’t buy these brands any longer, even for an occasional “treat”:

Popular chocolate bar ingredients - 1

Popular chocolate bar ingredients - 2

Hershey’s, Ghiradelli, Russell Stover, Godiva, Nestle and M&M/Mars all use unhealthy and harmful ingredients like:

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – Princeton University found that HFCs commonly found in candy prompts considerably more weight gain than conventional sugars and is linked to obesity. The latest statistics are startling and show that 42% of us will be obese by 2030 and obesity will be the leading preventable cause of death in America by 2019. We must do everything we can to stop this slippery slope by not consuming chemically refined sugars that make us eat more than we should.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – We don’t know for sure how much of these candy brand products are genetically modified since they are currently not required to be labeled in this U.S.A. (Hopefully that will change soon if Prop 37 passes in California!) But we do know that the consumption of GMO foods poses a serious threat to our health and has been linked to toxicity, cancer, allergic reactions and fertility issues. It’s really hard to find a chocolate these days without the ingredient “soy lecithin,” which helps keep chocolate smooth and together. Unfortunately soy is one of the most common crops to be genetically modified. And even the sugar that chocolate contains can be from genetically modified sugar beets! When buying any chocolate (or anything in general), remember to read the label just to make sure all ingredients are listed organic or Non-GMO Project verified to avoid GMO’s.
  • Growth Hormone – Chocolate usually contains dairy, which means that unless it’s organic chocolate, you are likely consuming milk from cows that have been conventionally raised with antibiotics and growth hormones. rBGH is a GMO found in cheap conventional dairy products that many of these chocolate brands use to make their milk chocolate. That means that by simply eating a piece of chocolate you or your family could be ingesting a substance that in excess levels has been reported to cause breast, colon and prostate cancers.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils (a.k.a. Trans Fat) – The 4th ingredient in Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Mint is partially hydrogenated soybean oil. This is alarming because trans fat has been shown to be deadly even in small amounts. “Previous trials have linked even a 40-calorie-per-day increase in trans fat intake to a 23% higher risk of heart disease.” 40 calories is a mere 2% of a typical 2000 calorie per day diet – and could easily be the amount of trans fat found in many types of chocolate.
  • Artificial Colors – We’ve discussed artificial food coloring a lot before, but I think it needs a little more air time, considering we are talking about chocolate – a substance that is usually white, brown, or dark brown and doesn’t actually need coloring! I was floored to find coloring in Godiva’s 8 piece gold box and Russell Stover’s pecan clusters. When companies manufacture chocolates using chemical fillers and fake ingredients that don’t have natural colors, they have to add color to trick our senses into making us think we are eating something real. The most widely used dyes are contaminated with known carcinogens, linked to cancer and known to cause hyperactivity in children. Also, watch out for “caramel coloring” that may sound natural but is not. It’s often manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure, which creates carcinogenic compounds that are also linked to cancer.
  • Artificial Flavors – Thousands of secret food chemicals can be hidden under the label “artificial flavors.” Some of these chemicals are actually never reviewed by the FDA because they are used in such a small amount. Food company scientists develop ways to use chemically derived ingredients that turn on and off certain taste buds depending upon the end goal – changing something from bitter to sweet, and so on. Allowing artificial flavors in your diet gives these scientists the ability to mess with your senses and trick you to like, eat, and buy more fake food than you would otherwise.

Luckily for us not all chocolate is designed to trick you or have scary ingredients. There are many choices available that are delicious and actually nutritious!

Organic chocolate bars

  1. Alter Eco Organic Chocolate – This is my absolute favorite organic chocolate right now. I like to choose organic chocolate whenever possible, to lessen my exposure to pesticides. The cocoa bean, from which chocolate is produced, is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. The Dark Quinoa Chocolate bar tastes just like a “Nestle Crunch,” and the Dark Coconut Toffee bar totally satisfies your “Butterfinger” craving.  I have a hard time keeping these bars in the house… my husband and I seem to always fight over the last piece.
  2. UnReal Candy – Although Unreal isn’t certified organic, they make a point to choose sustainably sourced chocolate and use no GMOs, growth hormone or antibiotics in their milk chocolate. They’ve perfectly reinvented classic candy favorites likes M&Ms, Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups without most of the junk. Now only if they could do this for all the other candies out there like candy corn! They make perfectly sized mini-treats you can find at most drug stores and some Targets, which is why they made my Non-GMO candy list.
  3. Kopali Chocolate Covered Organic Superfoods – Their organic chocolate covered goji berries are addictive and a tasty alternative to “Raisinets.” I love goji berries because they are less sweet and more chewy than raisins and have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food. Antioxidants are very important because they fight all the free radicals and toxins you can accumulate in your body that cause aging and disease.
  4. Righteously Raw – This may be one of the most health conscious organic chocolates available on the market that actually tastes good! This chocolate is completely raw and made with several types of superfoods. You are getting 100% of the benefits from eating chocolate when it is in its raw state. Righteously Raw just came out with bite size flavors that I feel great about eating everyday with no guilt because there is no refined sugar! The mint is my favorite and reminiscent of “Andes Creme De Menthe” chocolates that are full of artificial food coloring and trans fat.
  5. NibMor Organic Chocolate – I met the founders of this whimsical chocolate company recently at a fundraiser for Prop 37 in NYC. I had honestly never heard of them or tried their chocolate before. Luckily I got a few samples to take home… and let me just tell you, they did not make it home! I ate them all on the airplane and I’ve been buying little boxes of their perfectly sized squares called “daily dose” ever since! The addition of cacao nibs to their chocolates adds a nice crunch and ups the percentage of real cacao you are getting per bite.
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372 responses to “Are You Getting Conned By Cheap & Toxic Chocolate?

    1. Oops! The Coconut Palm Sugar is not raw.

      My favorite is the Honey Rose Dark Chocolate. 🙂

      1. Thanks, Lisa. I am in PDX and have not heard of that one. Love Missionary Chocolates.

  1. So where do we purchase the above suggested chocolates? I’ve not seen any at Whole Foods in Greensboro, NC. And I don’t think I have any other local place to buy from that has them. Thank you ! 🙂

    1. Purchase from Food Babe’s Amazon links so she can get a kick-back! That’s the point, you know.

      1. I think that’s ok, since she’s taken the time to investigate and write the article.

    2. Best pricing on Alter Eco is at Vitacost.com, I’ve been purchasing it there for quite awhile. And don’t miss Alter Eco’s unbelievably delicious jasmine rice while you’re there… 🙂

    3. Theo Chocolates, based in Seattle, is AMAZING – organic and fair trade! Whole Foods usually carries it.

      1. I second that! Try Theo’s chilli dark chocolate, you’ll be addicted. I eat 1 square/day!

      2. yes, theo chocolates is awesome. and so many flavors. luckily, my friend works for them and sometimes I get a little yummy treat!

  2. You forgot to included the worst ingredient by far. : child / slave labor!

    Most of these brands know they buy from sources forcing child labor. 🙁

    1. i love Theo! One of the few chocolates out there that doesn’t contain Soy Lecithin. I will absolutely pay $4 (same as a crappy Starbucks) for a treat knowing that it is high quality, organic, and fair trade. Plus the taste is so rich, one bar can last me several days. Eating a regular candy bar after eating this for several months… And you can definitely taste the low quality, cheap ingredients.
      I also love knowing that I am buying local.

    1. I got some for Christmas. I ate a few to be polite and am trying to find of a discreet way to dispose of the rest! It’s full of artificial dyes and other no-nos.

  3. Yes there is a Healthy chocolate and its the only trademarked Healthy chocolate XOCAI!
    It changed my life from health benefits to allergies gone and inflammation gone, hit me up for more information.

  4. The problem with the recommendations in the above article is that the word “organic” is nothing more than a polite way of saying that it tastes like deep fried boogers (Wow! That’s a mental picture, isn’t it?). I have NEVER tasted anything that billed itself as “organic” that tasted even half as good as it’s conventional counterpart.

    Anyway, for chocolate, I’ll stick with Valrhona 70%. Nothing else even comes close. Unfortunately, nothing else comes close in price either. I suppose that it’s true, what they say. Quality costs. But it’s a price I will gladly pay.

      1. Because he has the right to! I agree with him. Besides which the article is prop…the ingedients listed are not in the chocolate which actually separates out its ingedients in brackets….most of the so called nasties are in the fillings.

    1. That makes me so sad for you. We stopped eating all conventional products a while back and the stuff we eat now (some organic, some not) is so much better. If I happen to eat a “conventional” product, it tastes like garbage to me. Maybe your tastes have not yet acclimated to eating toxin free food. But there are plenty of organic products that do taste great.

      1. But, Steve, why would you want to ruin such a fine chocolate by adding milk to it. 8^)

        I’m aware that Valrhona has free trade and organic products. However, I have not tried them. When I want chocolate, I stick with the 70% variety of Valrhona.

        I should point out that I have tasted various products that were not advertised as natural or organic, but I later learned were natural or organic and I found them to be quite acceptable. My point was that it has been my experience that whenever a product is “ADVERTISED” as natural organic, it most often tastes terrible. If an organic or natural product tastes good, to begin with, then there is no need to advertise it as organic or natural, since people will buy it anyway. My conclusion is that if an organic or natural product tastes lousy, they stick the organic or natural label on it, hoping that some people will buy it because it’s organic or natural and will be willing to accept the bland or otherwise lousy taste, as a price for it being organic or natural.

        I personally go for taste and, with few exceptions, don’t much care how the product came to be. I drink Panamanian Boquete coffee. Is it Free Trade? I don’t know and don’t care. I eat Valrhona chocolate. Again, I don’t much care how it got to be so good. I only care that each bite is a piece of heaven. I drink very old single malt scotch. Was the barley that was used to make the mash naturally fertilized? Don’t know. Don’t care. Anyone who has ever tasted a 40 year old Glenfarclas or a 35 year old Glenmorangie or Macallan will tell you that whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it exactly right and it shouldn’t be changed.

        A life spent eating less than exciting food, for the sole reason that you might live longer, is not life at all and not worth whatever amount of time you gain. My favorite statement on life is, “The object of life should not be to arrive peacefully at the grave, in a well preserved body, calmly accepting your fate, as your friends mourn your passing, but rather, to slide broadside into the grave, in a thoroughly used up body, champagne bottle in hand and a big smile on your face, screaming, ‘Yeehaa! What a ride!’, as your friends celebrate a Life Well Lived.”

        I’ve jumped out of planes (parachute), jumped off mountains (hang glider), scuba dived to 380 feet, crashed motorcycles and ultralights, and done a dozen other things that dull people think are crazy. Oh, yes. I always eat what makes me feel best. In short, I intend to make the best of life, even if it kills me. If eating non-organic chocolate or drinking non-Fair Trade coffee kills me, then all I can say to that is, “What a great way to go!” But I must admit that I would prefer something a bit more exciting, like a bungee cord breaking or a shark attack. After all, it would be such a shame to have lived such a fun life, only to end it in bed. What a thoroughly depressing thought. Now I have to go have another shot of scotch, to feel better. It’s such a tough life. 8^)

    1. Im not sure if there are any good milk choc options. By nature, they have to add a whole lot of crap to sweeten it and milk powders to make it ‘milky’… all just add3d chemicals.

      1. Amie, I buy vegan chocolates from Sjaak’s. They make a “milk” chocolate that is very yummy. I get them online.

      1. I remember seeing something about Cadbury changing their recipe, just recently. I wouldn’t be able to tell you where I saw it, can’t remember, but maybe if you “google” it, it would come up. 🙂 (it could have just been what’s sold in the US.. seems companies tend to make/sell US the crud versions! :-o)

    2. Theo’s has a milk chocolate version and it is delicious! Their peanut butter cups are great also!

    1. That was my first question too! It depends on the chocolate. Check out their website (lindtusa.com) – I didn’t find high fructose corn syrup in anything but I did find artificial flavor in their truffles. The 70% Excellence bar looks very clean although I don’t know if their ingredients are GMO-free (which means they probably aren’t). Their FAQ says they do not use trans fats in any of their products, and all their milk suppliers do not use growth hormone. I feel comfortable continuing to eat Lindt products (in moderation of course 🙂 ). It is just the best tasting chocolate I have ever found. YMMV.

  5. what do you think about OCHO chocolate? they are certified organic and is the only one I can find in our small area.

  6. FYI, I purchased a bar of Godiva 72% cacao today and it only includes these ingredients: unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and almonds – no artificial dyes, flavors, corn syrup or oils. You can’t go by brands, you have to read the labels!! Not helpful to paint all products/brands with the same broad brush. My organic chicken broth contains “natural chicken flavor”. Who knows what that is! You make the best choice among those available. I’d be hard pressed to order chocolate from Amazon!

    1. The Sugar likely GMO Sugar from GMO Sugar Beets! Unless Sugar is listed as Cane Syrup, Cane Sugar or the product is certified nonGMO or Organic it is HIGHLY likely to be GMO Sugar BEET! Especially when made in Amerika!

    2. You nailed it Lisa. Read the ingredients. Most chocolate contains soy lecithin as an emulsifier (gives it the great mouth-feel) and doesn’t mean it’s bad or bad for you. Does anyone understand the real meaning of fair trade? Do your own homework.

  7. Thank you so much for compiling valuable information we have a right to know about our food ingredients. I wish you would also at least mention how ethical the sourcing of the ingredients are or are NOT. It should break everyone’s heart to know the chocolate they eat has been harvested by enslaved children. When and how did this become acceptable. If you think eating chemicals is bad for your health, try being a 40 pound child and wielding a machete to harvest cacao and losing an appendage in the process. Please encourage your legions of loyal followers to consider ethically sourced as well as healthy ingredients. Fair Trade certified chocolate comes from farmer owned coops. Buy Fair Trade.

  8. I like non gmo, GF, rain forest alliance certified chocolate where a 10 percent of the profits go to endangered species.

  9. Do know how Guittard chocolate stacks up? Their ingredients list for their semi sweet chips reads, sugar, cacao beans, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin and real vanilla. I love them because they don’t use soy lecithin and I am soy sensitive, and they are really tasty. I’d surely love to hear a good report on them!

  10. I love Equal Exchange 71% fair trade organic chocolate. It is certified kosher, pareve, and even kosher for Passover. It is rich and very satisfying!!

  11. What a well-written article on chocolate! It is essential to know the right kinds to buy, since we can’t live without it:) thanks for the info!

    1. I buy Sjaak’s vegan chocolate. It isn’t on the list above, but they don’t have lots of nasty crap in them either. I buy them online.

  12. I would love to see info regarding sees candy and there products they are the top chocolate places to get valentine items what is in there products

  13. I love Equal Exchange’s chocolate-organic and fair trade (small farmers, not child labor for corporations), and soooooo delicious! Especially their dark chocolate bar with caramel and sea salt!

  14. nice work. I would add Taza Chocolate to the list of good chocolate. Organic, non-GMO, glutenfree, etc etc. One of the mOst good and fair chocolate money can buy!

  15. You go JohnG. I am a Glenlivet fan myself. And as far as chocolate goes, I don’t eat it very often. I eat the healthy food that is yummy. I don’t eat the healthy food that tastes yucky. I drink the kind of coffee that is yummy. I don’t drink yucky coffee. And when I do eat chocolate, I will not gag on 90% cacao. I will eat chocolate that is yummy. Why do people split hairs over a food you don’t even need in your diet in the first place!? Smh..

  16. Have you tried Raaka Chocolate? It’s a bean to bar chocolate company based in Brooklyn that makes chocolate out of unroasted beans and organic ingredients. All of their chocolate is also vegan, gluten free, and nut free. Their flavors are incredibly unique and I highly recommend them as an alternative to most chocolates on the market.

    raakachocolate.com

  17. Hi, I did not read through all the comments…too many. Anyway, which Ghiradelli products are you referring to? I always check the label for their dark chocolate chips and all seems quite fine. No weirdo ingredients.

  18. I do think Food.Inc articles are informative – however they always make me squeamish b/c they always seem to end with a sales pitch for a product.

  19. I prefer to make my own chocolates…it is so simple, fast and fun…and it is always so wonderful to see my friends and family’s faces when I give them these incredible bags full of homemade chocolate (and they have no idea how healthy my gift actually is…that is the best part).
    Also, since I know exactly what is going into my chocolate – raw cacao, honey, nuts or seeds, etc, I don’t have to worry about my food allergies…I mean, how can you go wrong with homemade!
    Here is a link to my Facebook group to find the recipe:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/littlestones/
    Enjoy!

  20. I detest most of the “chocolate” candy bars out there, and find no purpose in eating them. However, I really enjoy the taste and texture of Dove Dark Chocolates – one or two daily… How do they rate?

  21. I’ve been eating and preferring dark Chocolate for years. Guess looking at the ingredients they are not as healthy as I thought…

    Ghirardelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie* 86% Cacao contains: Bittersweet chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, coco butter, sugar, milk fat, soy lecithin – an emulsifier), vanilla, natural flavor.

    Lindt Excellence 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark contains: Chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa powder processes with alkali, sugar, bourbon, vanilla beans.

    Will have to look for something healthier.

  22. I found a few varieties of the NibMor chocolates at Ocean State Job Lot in Berlin, CT … about $1.50 each as I remember.

  23. 99.9% of also the raw chocolates are made from fermented beans , did you know that fermentation a big reduction gives on those healthy flavonoids and all enzymes? just see this presentation from Prof. Dr Rodger Corder. http://www.fhf.org.uk/meetings/2007-12-11_corder.pdf
    So you have to search for a high flavonoid chocolate made from the best beans like the criollo type . I found one company that can actually proces nonfermented wild cacao beans at max 88F from Pod to Bar. They preserve all those healthy flavonoids for 90% and also the Enzymes. If you like to know more about it just contact me on facebook or instagram as @Mrchocobean and send me a PM.

    Wish you a great Day

    Peter Langelaar

  24. “a substance that in excess levels has been reported to cause breast, colon and prostate cancers”… well yeah, anything is bad in “excess levels”. That’s what “excess” means.

  25. You do know ‘toxins’ are a big con right? The things being called carcinogens are only able to cause cancer if eaten in extreme proportions (i.e. literally tonnes). Besides, ‘organic’ things like water can also kill you if consumed in huge quantities, so perhaps you should all get off you ‘organic is best’ bandwagon and accept that this food is safe for human consumption. Besides, ‘organic’ foods are still treated with pesticides.

    And dairy is good for you! Honestly, where is the research, the scientific fact to support these ludicrous claims being made? You’re fobbing people off and scaring them about safe food unnecessarily.

  26. There are statistics, etc quoted in this article but I can’t seem to find the bibliography. Am I looking in the wrong place? I would like to read the Princeton University study linking HFCs and weight gain and the article that gives the statistics about Obesity levels by 2030…among others. Can anyone tell me where the sources are cited? Thanks.

  27. I just ate some organic NibMor chocolate with blueberries and it contains soy lecitin. Soy has ruined all sorts of food! It’s cheap so companies use it. Like horrible corn syrup. Hostess cakes used to be tasty now they taste bitter and chemically.

  28. I have been selectively removing food from from my diet to try to find out why my urine has a pink tinge. I’m glad you published the full list of ingredients for
    Godiva. Lists on line fell short of including food dyes. Guess what!?…no more Godiva for me. Thankyoudetention.

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