the why and how of fair-trade chocolate

halloween is really scary when you're a slave on a cocoa farm

tis the season to stop supporting slavery









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The bitter truth about chocolate is this: it’s not made by an eccentric man with a flying elevator and his happy umpa-lumpas. It’s made by kidnapped children forced into slavery.

When I first learned this, I wanted to ignore it, but somehow I couldn’t. After all, I drank chocolate milk with Hershey’s syrup in it almost every morning and I had since I was four or five. I didn’t want to give that up. As a matter of fact, I was scared to. When I realized that my life-long Hershey’s purchases were paying for slaves, I finally put my foot down. Unable to find any fair-trade chocolate syrup, I gave up my chocolate milk addiction. I lost a little weight and tried not to complain about my lemon water when in fact, I very much missed my old breakfast.

Thankfully, I have discovered ways to continue to enjoy chocolate without throwing my ethics out the window. I would like to say though, that if there was no such thing as fair-trade chocolate, I would have to give up chocolate entirely. There is no excuse for funding companies that blatantly maintain the slave trade.

Many people still don’t realize that mainstream chocolate companies such as Hershey’s, Nestle, Dove, Ghirardelli and Mars purchase their cocoa from The Ivory Coast of Africa where child-slavery is prevalent. Not only this, but these companies have been informed of this atrocity and continue making profit through slavery.

You might hear “child slaves” and wonder if I’m exaggerating. Are we talking about 15-year olds who aren’t technically supposed to be hired but needed the work and were hired secretly? Are we talking about kids working on the family farm after school? No.

We are talking about traffickers kidnapping children from their parents in other African countries, trucking them to the plantations and forcing them to harvest cocoa beans with machetes. We’re talking no chance to go back to school, no understanding of the language, no contact with their parents, no hope.

And all this so I can have my chocolate milk in the morning.

If this bothers you in the least, I have news for you. There is a way to stop slavery. Stop buying from slave-owners. If the whole world stopped buying chocolate, coffee, t-shirts and one-night-stands from slave-owners, slavery would be demolished. In the case of chocolate, one of the most straight-forward slavery operations I know of, we must support the fair-trade companies that are making an effort to stand against slavery.

As a chocolate lover, the discovery of the slavery issue entwined in the cocoa industry did nothing but launch me on a journey to find fair-trade chocolate. I have been on this journey for a couple of years now and, as I munch on this chocolate chip cookie, I shall give you my recommendations. (See? I’m a chocolate addict. It’s kind of a problem.)

1. Don’t give someone a slave for Christmas.

Holidays are no excuse to give in and buy unethically produced chocolate. With a little extra effort your trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving baking and stocking stuffers can all be fair-trade! Of course, fair-trade chocolate is more expensive (think of it as actual price as opposed to slave-produced price) so every bite is a little extra special. Consider passing out non-chocolate candies on Halloween or stuffing your stockings with other items.

2. You can still bake!

For a while, our kitchen was sadly barren of chocolate goodies. Now we bake with fair-trade chocolate quite often. Here are my top picks for baking at this point in my journey:

3. Got those candy munchies?

This past Easter, my sisters and I bought fair-trade chocolate and created several of our favorite Easter basket classics in our own kitchen.We made “Reese’s Eggs” and “Buterfingers” that I promise were better than the store-bought ones. Of course this was extra effort, but it was delicious and well worth it.

However, I don’t always have time to make my own candy. In this case, I might grab a chocolate bar while I’m grocery shopping. My all-time favorite is Green & Black’s milk chocolate almond bar. All of Green & Black’s chocolate bars are delicious and they can be found in the organic section of an ordinary grocery store.

4. Educate yourself..and the rest of the world!

Find out where you can purchase fair-trade chocolate. Adapt your family recipes to use fair-trade chocolate. Share this post on Facebook or Twitter to let others know about this issue and how it can be solved. Watch this short BBC documentary on YouTube and see the real-life story of a slave boy on a cocoa farm. Follow my “All’s Fair” Pinterest board for fair-trade ideas. Use other resources such as The Better World Shopping Guide to make wise purchases.

Remember, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” -Anna Lappe

One Response to the why and how of fair-trade chocolate

  1. Cathy Ann Armour October 10, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Very nice blog on fair trade. Appreciate it!

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