I love chocolate. Like, a lot. I eat it on a VERY regular basis. The picture above is at a chocolate store in San Francisco, it was great. I think that there will be a special place in heaven that looks reminiscent of this. Bu, before this past week I ate my Dove chocolate pieces or my favorite Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate & Caramel Squares in complete innocence.
Yes, I was naive of the fact that slave child labor is used to harvest cocoa from plantations in Cote d’Ivoire, where 40% of the world’s cocoa is produced. Just in this region there are hundreds of thousands of children smuggled across the border from neighboring countries, lured by the promise of making money and safety. Yet, the children are never paid and some are less than 10 years old. People in the area know that this is happening. Some turn a blind eye, others participate in the lucrative business, and others like bus drivers and community members actively work to save children from traffickers. The movie “The Dark Side of Chocolate” was definitely eye-opening and even revealed how reporters trying to tell these stories are risking their lives to bring awareness to this issue.
So, what are companies doing to stop this? Well, the video shows that some cocoa producers choose to simply ignore the problem. In 2001, the Harken-Engel protocol was signed by many of the major chocolate companies. In this agreement, they all agreed to start sourcing cocoa responsibly. Yet, as of now Hershey’s has done nothing to move towards this goal. Mars, Inc. is taking steps to have 10% of their chocolate reliably sourced and in nine years to be completely sustainably sourced. Ben & Jerry’s already incorporates fair trade chocolate into many of its ice cream flavors. By 2013, this benevolent company will become fair trade certified in as many ingredients as possible. This is no small feat and shows that all companies can take employ better and more humane practices just through buying power. For now, try to limit buying Hershey’s chocolate and instead go for some ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s that is).
And please don’t judge, the Hershey’s bar above was given to me I did not buy it.