Avoiding the gift of chocolate exploitation
When you say “I love you” this Valentine’s Day with chocolate, why not make the effort to make sure it’s “slave-free?” Then it will be something that is truly good for the heart in more ways than one.
From Wikipedia’s Fair trade page:
“Fair Trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate and flowers.”
There is another web site called Stop Chocolate Slavery that explains it like this:
“If you want some chocolate, but don’t want to exploit people, Fair Trade chocolate is probably your best bet. “Fair trade” was a term coined fairly recently, apparently in contradiction to so-called free trade.”
Here’s even more of the “bitter truth” from TreeHugger.com:
The truth behind chocolate is not-so-sweet. The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa producer, providing 43% of the world’s cocoa. And yet, in 2001 the U.S. State Department reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. A 2002 report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture about cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other African countries estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions. U.S. chocolate manufacturers have claimed they are not responsible for the conditions on cocoa plantations since they don’t own them.
Looking at a list of fair trade chocolate companies, notably missing are companies like Hershey’s and M&M/Mars that control the lion’s share (about two-thirds) of chocolate production in the United States.
So before you give your sweets the sweets you might want to do a bit of quick research and find out if your chocolate has been certified as “fair trade.” That makes a tasty gift even better!
Remarkably, finding an up-to-date list of what is and isn’t fair trade chocolate in the United States is rather challenging.
Looking for a place to shop that offers fair trade products? You can use web sites like TransFair USA and others to find retail locations.
Here is a site that claims to be a comprehensive list of organic chocolate suppliers. I even have a couple tins of Dagoba on my counter at home. Green Promise: Organic Chocolate Suppliers.