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The Green Life: My Eco-Valentine

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December 19, 2008

My Eco-Valentine

My Eco-Valentine Pink and red may take center stage this Valentine's Day, but that's no reason to forget about green. For the flower lovers in your life, consider seasonal bouquets grown as locally as possible. While imported flowers undergo inspection for pests, pesticide residue gets a free pass. That encourages growers to use highly toxic sprays, says the Pesticide Action Network. Look for blossoms that are organic or certified by the VeriFlora Sustainability Council, such as those sold at californiaorganicflowers.com. In season this time of year are bright anemones, tulips, and Dutch irises. Now what about chocolate? Selfless Sierra Club staffers tested 15 chocolate bars--all certified organic or fair trade, or made by small-scale artisanal companies. These three emerged as crave-worthy winners:

chocolate bars Artisanal
Madagascar premium dark chocolate by Amano Artisan Chocolate
Made with only cocoa beans, cocoa butter, cane sugar, and vanilla pods, this bar (minimum 70 percent cocoa) earned top marks for its tempting appearance, smooth texture, moderate sweetness, and pure cocoa flavor. This, our panelists agreed, is how chocolate should taste. amanochocolate.com

Organic 
New Moon 74 percent bittersweet dark chocolate by Dagoba Organic Chocolate
Organic cocoa beans, evaporated cane juice, cocoa butter, and non-GMO soy lecithin (an emulsifier) make up this smooth bar, which earned the highest score for aroma. One panelist described it as "dark and satisfying," and many detected coffee and earthy flavors complementing the "solidly unadorned chocolate" taste. dagobachocolate.com

Fair Trade
Art Bar exquisite Swiss dark chocolate with coconut by Ithaca Fine Chocolates
Certified both fair trade and organic, this bar (minimum 58 percent cocoa) scored better among panelists favoring semisweet or unsweetened chocolate over a sweeter bar. The coconut was a turnoff for some ("Reminds me of a flavored coffee," one noted), but most liked the nutty flavor and preferred it to other fair-trade entries, which struck tasters as "a little grainy" and too fruity, "like Skittles." ithacafinechocolates.com

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