If you’ve been paying attention to store shelves, you may be curious why so many chocolate products have been popping up with “fair trade” on the label lately. While chocolate is one of the sweetest treats on earth, it also has a dark side – and I’m not talking dark chocolate.

“Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean, which grows primarily in the tropical climates of West Africa and Latin America. West African countries supply more than 70% of the world’s cocoa market. The cocoa they grow and harvest is sold to a variety of chocolate companies, including some of the largest in the world.

In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor, and in some cases slavery, on West African cocoa farms. Since that time, the industry has become increasingly secretive, making it difficult for reporters to not only access farms where human rights violations still occur, but to then disseminate this information to the public.” (Read more about cocoa industry human rights violations on foodispower.org.)

The good news is that there are organizations working hard to make it easier for consumers to understand what kinds of businesses and practices they’re supporting when they purchase things like cocoa, cocoa butter or chocolate. As I mentioned last week, cocoa butter is a key ingredient in all our soaps. My cocoa butter comes from a local chocolatier who uses organic, Fair Trade cocoa and cocoa butter.

Fair Trade certification is a guarantee to processors, handlers, retailers and consumers that the cocoa beans were produced in a way that does no social harm. Fair Trade-certified cocoa only comes from certified farmers and cooperatives that have been organized to economically strengthen their members’ so they can provide for their families and educate their children.

So what does that mean for you? When you buy a bar of Poppy Soap, you’re ultimately investing in better global businesses practices – from San Luis Obispo, California to Latin America to to West Africa. That’s something to feel good about.

Want to learn more about Fair Trade? Check out fairtradeusa.org.

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Cocoa Butter: PoppySoap.comIf you’re a regular reader of my blog (or our product labels), you probably already know that we only use organic, sustainable ingredients in Poppy Soap Co. products. Over the next couple weeks, I want to take some time to share what that really means by introducing you to what goes into our products and where it comes from. Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorites – cocoa butter!

Even though cocoa butter sounds like something for for the kitchen, you may be surprised to learn that it is an ingredient in every one of my soaps – and there’s a reason for that. Through a process called “superfatting,” cocoa butter serves as an ingredient that helps our soaps hydrate, rather than dehydrate, your skin. Superfatting is essentially just a fancy name for the process of adding extra fats (in the form of oils or butters) when formulating a soap recipe. This intentional imbalance creates more fat in the mixture than the lye can chemically react with. Superfatting leaves behind a portion of unincorporated oils in the finished soap, which results in an end product that packs superior moisturizing and emollient properties. (And that means happy, happy skin for you.)

So. What the heck is cocoa butter? (I’m so glad you asked.)  As much as I’d like to tell you it comes from the same brown cows that make chocolate milk…that’s not the case! ;) Along with cocoa powder, cocoa butter is one of two major products made from the cocoa bean. After farmers extract cocoa beans from the inside of a larger, fleshy cocoa fruit, the beans are cleaned, roasted and smushed. The resulting product? Cocoa butter. The remaining solids are processed into cocoa powder.

CacaoAnd just in case you’re wondering, yes, the cocoa butter in your soap is the same thing that’s in your candy bar. Cocoa butter and powder (along with their friends sugar and milk) are combined to create chocolate. Almost everything you need to make chocolate is already inside the cocoa bean. (That would be kind of like making a pumpkin pie using nothing but the pumpkin seed!)

I get my cocoa butter from a local chocolatier. All the cocoa butter they source is organic and fair trade certified, which I’ll be touching on in a future post.

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Plant Your Own Healing Garden

April 5, 2014

With Spring just around the corner, things are (literally) coming up roses. And lavender. And mint. And the list goes on and on and on. With longer days and warmer weather, we’ll all be heading outside for some fun in the sun, which also means the return of aching muscles, cuts, scrapes, insect bites, sprains, […]

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Cement-Inspired DIY Crafts

March 25, 2014

Oh the humble medium of concrete. From cement candleholders to cinderblock patio benches, it has been said that “cement is the new pallet” in the world of DIY, and I’m inclined to agree. If you know anything about Poppy Soap, it should come as no surprise that I’m drawn to organic mediums – and cement […]

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My Maker Manifesto

March 17, 2014

  With the upcoming launch of our shop on Martha Stewart American Made right around the corner, the art of “making” has been on my mind lately. For those of you who haven’t been following along with Poppy Soap Co. on our social channels this month, we’ve designated March a celebration of “the art of […]

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Castor Oil Packs

February 19, 2014

Castor oil? As in Castor Motor Oil? Well, no. Of course not. I wouldn’t tell you to put motor oil on your body now would I? I’m talking about this kind of castor oil ——–> Castor oil is actually pretty impressive stuff. Every household should have it at the ready. Especially for Castor Oil Packs. […]

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Chocolate Face Mask

February 12, 2014

It’s February and with that comes Valentine’s Day and CHOCOLATE! Everywhere you turn there are heart shaped boxed filled with mouthwatering chocolate candy. I try hard to turn off my “eat all the chocolate button” this time of year. But it is tough and sometimes I just need a fix. Instead of reaching for some […]

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough You Can Actually Eat Raw

February 5, 2014

Pinterest is brimming with recipes to make for your sweetie pie this Valentine’s Day. While in theory they all sound doable, they often times end up a not-so-visually-appealing lump. Wait, does that only happen to me? Say it ain’t so? In any case, I came thought I would share one of my favorite year round […]

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Do you suffer from Rosacea? You might not know it.

January 22, 2014

Do you have flushed red cheeks, nose, chin or forehead? Do you have small visible blood vessels on your face? Do you have pimples or bumps on your face? You might be suffering from Rosacea. What’s that you ask? Rosacea is becoming more and more common. More than 14 million people are living with rosacea. […]

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Palmorosa – A Powerhouse Of Goodness

January 15, 2014

Palmarosa is a green and pale yellow grass with fragrant leaves. The grass is harvested and dried before it flowers. Palmarosa oil is extracted via steam distillation. Palmarosa Essential Oil has antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, cytophylactic and digestive properties. It has a sweet floral scent, with just a hint of rose about it. This makes it […]

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