Now that I’ve learned about cocoa harvesting, I can’t buy chocolate that isn’t Fair Trade Certified. Knowing that everything we buy is tainted with injustice somewhere along the line is troubling. You can’t give up everything; but child slavery is a good place to draw the line.
The Ivory Coast provides 43% of the cocoa beans used to make the world’s chocolate. The US Department of State estimates that more than 109,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry work under “the worst forms of child labor,” and that some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement.
In 2001, in an attempt to avoid government regulation and intense media scrutiny, major cocoa companies made a voluntary commitment (the Cocoa Industry Protocol) to certify their cocoa “child labor-free” by July 2005, but that deadline passed with little fanfare. The deadline was then extended to certify 50% of farms “child-labor free” by July 2008. The cocoa companies trumpeted a few pilot programs, but continue to purchase and reap profits from child labor cocoa.
Hershey has been the slow to implement changes and has been the subject of an email campaign. Now, they have issued a press release, announcing a $10 million investment in West Africa to improve cocoa farming but it’s not clear that this will help any actual people.
“Americans alone spend $13 billion a year on chocolate.” Ha, at least half of that comes from me, personally.
I need chocolate to live. I am not exaggerating. Without chocolate and coffee, there would be no reason to get out of bed or even breathe. My favorite form of chocolate is Toblerone and it isn’t Fair Trade Certified. It’s owned by Kraft, which helps to diminish its appeal, somewhat. Maybe I’ll have to write to them and beg them to get on board.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Favorite chocolate?