Happy Easter everyone! I hope that you are all having a nice bank holiday Easter weekend. I certainly am! Having a good old rest and indulging in plenty of yummy chocolate. 

Why is it that egg shaped chocolate like Easter eggs taste so much better than a normal bar? That is something I've never been able to work out. So I always love it when Easter comes round and I can enjoy working my way through a chocolate egg. My mouth is watering just talking about it! When I was younger it was all about having the most or biggest Easter egg, but now it is much more about the quality of the chocolate and where it comes from. 

I usually only have chocolate in small doses, I mean, I wouldn't call myself a chocoholic. Usually just a mouthful, or one or two squares, is enough for me. And I recently read that a little bit of dark chocolate is actually really good for you and has some interesting health benefits (but of course, all in moderation!). In fact, the higher the quality of chocolate, the less I actually want to eat because I want to 'savour the flavour' and make it last longer such as dark chocolate. Having said that I've always been a fan of Cadbury's Dairy Milk, and Lintt chocolate, but recently I have come across some new brands and flavours which are worth mentioning.

Fairly traded or ethically sourced chocolate is becoming more and more available, with new and interesting flavours providing mouth watering delights rather than the standard chocolate bars we are so familiar with. I think most people would recognise the Fair Trade logo now, especially since Cadbury's and Nestle have put them on their Dairy Milk and KitKat bars, but there are actually a lot of smaller companies who specialise in sourcing their chocolate from ethical/sustainable suppliers that deserve our time and money. You just have to look a bit harder for them. The Fair Trade Foundation website has a great web page which lists the main suppliers of Fair Trade chocolate (hopefully you will recognise or be aware of most of them). The ones I have personally tasted are from Divine, The Meaningful Chocolate Company, Sainsbury's Taste The Difference and Traidcraft. There are however, as I mentioned, smaller independent companies who choose to use cocoa from fairly traded producers, such as 'Choc Affair' who are based in York. 

The Fair Trade shop in Sheffield (now called Good Taste) has stocked Choc Affair chocolate since the beginning of March and I was able to taste some of it whilst I was volunteering one Saturday - well, after staring at it for 7 hours you can hardly blame me! It was delicious though, so thick and creamy. I ate a chocolate rabbit which lasted me a couple of sittings (I didn't scoff it all at once!) and I was really impressed with the quality of the chocolate. I didn't want to rush and eat it all at once, but make it last as long as I could! Some of their more unusual (but equally delicious) flavours are Chilli, Lime & Sea Salt, Lavender, Orange & Geranium, and Peach & Raspberry.

They are beautifully packaged (being a designer I take note of how things are presented!) which would give even Willy Wonka a run for his money (well, chocolate!), and others are displayed in clear plastic bags. This makes the indulgence of chocolate even more tantalising - being able to see what you are getting makes it even better! That's why I bought and ate the chocolate rabbit - it just looked soooo good!

As well as creating yummy chocolate for consumers in the UK, Choc Affair also helps support communities in Uganda. In 2008, they traveled to Kumi, a village in North East Uganda to support the children there who had been made orphans by the civil war and HIV/Aids pandemic. Their input has helped to provide education and basic infrastructure, as well as digging bore holes for clean, safe water. The work is still continuing.

And Good Taste, is not only supporting many different communities around the world through the purchase and sale of fair trade goods, but all their profits go to support TASTE - a local Sheffield charity who also helps to provide safe, clean water for communities in Nigeria. 

This is really life changing stuff. And you can help support this incredible work, by seeking out fair trade chocolate (and other products!) and taking the time to find out more about the companies involved and who they work with. I, personally, like the symmetry that you can buy fair trade chocolate from an independent small business, which helps the local UK economy, supports the chocolate producers/farmers in a developing country as well as potentially helping other communities around the world - all with one purchase. 

Right, well, I really need to go and eat some chocolate now - good job there's plenty around this weekend! Happy Easter everyone!