You know how some people classify themselves as a “[insert object] snob”? By widely-accepted notions and particular contexts, a snob doesn’t necessarily mean you have an arrogant personality, but you have arrogant expectations. You’ve probably seen blogs of self-proclaimed food snobs, book snobs, fashion snobs, makeup snobs, car snobs, movie snobs, music snobs, television snobs, you know the deal. Heck, there’s even a YouTube channel called the Cereal Snob. My first impression: why didn’t I think of that?
On another note, I personally want to classify myself as a chocolate snob, but I’m certain that title is already taken by many such as this cutie pie right here–however, I believe that she’s expanded to a broader kind of lifestyle website of her own, so I might as well take a chocolate snob crown, right? Well, I wouldn’t want my entire blog to be dedicated to chocolate, even though it already has a pretty prominent presence in my recipes. Ugh, I can’t get enough.
With that aside, ever since confessing about my obsession with Lakanto’s sugar free 55% chocolate bars, I’ve been branching out to all kinds of chocolate bar brands that focus on using high-quality, fair trade sources and ingredients. Describing the exploitation of child slaves, rainforests, and the general chocolate farming system as unethical and corrupt would be an understatement. It is a shame of the amount of African children and women who are forced into harmful conditions and physical punishments without ample pay, not to mention the ridiculous rates of deforestation endured in the process.
While grocery shopping, I came across Lily’s Sweets. I have heard of their dark chocolate chips, but honestly, I am much more of a chocolate bar person than a chocolate chips person. Nothing beats that fun little crunch from a crisp whole chocolate bar! Also, chocolate chips are easy to spill and I prefer to use them in baking. Anyways, I knew that they manufacture four varieties of vegan-friendly dark chocolate, all of which are 70% dark chocolate or more, thus I decided to try their salted almond flavor because it sounded like the best one!
Here is the nutritional information and the ingredients statement.
- Macro-wise, it is a fantastic alternative to your average dark chocolate bar. 170 calories a serving (340 for the whole bar), 18 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of fiber, and 25% of the DV of iron. You can eat the entire bar for less carbohydrates and calories than most dark chocolates out there, which I personally did.
- Holy hell, the bar tastes even more fantastic. Crisp from the almonds and little hints of sea salt, as well as the chocolate that eventually melts in your mouth upon consumption. I did not pass up any opportunity to consume an entire bar of this chocolate. However, since the richness still fares the same way as any dark chocolate bar, you can feel perfectly satisfied after a few pieces.
- Two words: FAIR. TRADE. But this isn’t the whole picture, and there’s a catch. But we’ll get to that in a little bit.
- Instead of sugar, the chocolate is sweetened with Stevia. Thus, this chocolate is diabetic-friendly and a much healthier alternative to chocolate sweetened with cane sugar.
- Packaging design is absolutely beautiful. I love the logo, the printing of the hummingbirds, trees, and the flowers on the cover! In addition, the labels are vivid and the material is mostly recyclable.
- BIGGEST one for me: Lily’s Sweets manufactures completely certified fair trade products, but according to the chocolate list of the Food Empowerment Project, is not considered a wholehearted recommendation for a comprehensive breakdown of reasons regarding prevalence of child labor in the particular sourcing area, hesitance in changing suppliers, and/or use of non-worker owned cooperatives in Western Africa. However, Lily’s is classified as a company working under way to fix these matters; hence, there is a stronger level of ethics in chocolate sourcing than the section of brands to absolutely stay away from. Still, I personally would be wary of how the company describes their material sourcing.
- The vegan chocolate bars, which are all 70% or above, are much more challenging to find in retailers than the non-vegan bars. I am lucky to go to college where all varieties of the bars are sold at much less inexpensive prices, but usually when I visit a local Whole Foods or any grocery store, only the non-vegan chocolates are to be found.
- Like any other chocolate bar, this salted almond chocolate contains quite a lot of fat (45% being saturated). But hey, you’re going to get that with almost any chocolate bar, so that’s a given.
- Also, they’re all pretty costly (cheapest I’ve seen is $3.99, average is $5.99-$7.99).
Would I purchase from this company again? Only if I find that their bars are sold at a reasonable price, and I’m talking about the most inexpensive possible. As much as I love the quality and taste of their bars, I am disappointed that they do not use fully fair trade sourcing for their raw material. With that being said, I still think that Lily’s is an immensely healthier and more ethical alternative to conventional chocolate companies and work fantastically for those who cannot metabolize sugar because all of their products are sweetened with Stevia.
I hope that they increase their variety in flavors of vegan chocolates and widen their retail spectrum so that their products can reach a larger audience. In addition, I hope that everything in regards to fair trade sorts out–I am no expert in their material sourcing, so I could be missing on any information about their manufacturing process. I understand that not every company is perfect. Everyone, including myself, can all do better.