If you celebrate a holiday like Easter or Christmas by purchasing chocolate, do you examine where it is sourced from or simply choose whatever you find at the supermarket? While nobody finds it easy to take time out of their day to research anymore, you might just be investing in children suffering from a fate worse than death by participating in the annual practice of purchasing chocolate that we have all become so accustomed to.
Hershey’s, Nestlé and Mars have been accused of obtaining the base product for their chocolate from West African farms that have utilized child slaves.
People have pointed out the impact that this annual, consumeristic ritual has on people’s lives…which 99% of people don’t even realize.
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One particularly informative post was made in a private health group on Facebook, which personally drew my attention to the fact that a lot of chocolate is produced using child labor and/or human slavery.
The poster replied to an appreciative comment, continuing:
” I am so glad with the response this year. I have been lobbying against slave chocolate, tea, cotton etc for so many years and usually on deaf ears. This year people actually want to know. I start fuming when Easter product flogging starts and it just builds up so badly! We talk about the disgusting slave days but there are millions more slaves worldwide today – and WE pay for them to be slaves! http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/”
The cacao bean is where chocolate is derived from of course, and in the tropical climates of Latin America, Western Africa, and Asia that’s where it can be found. In Western Africa, primarily the Ivory Coast and Ghana, over 70% of the world’s cacao finds origin.
The largest chocolate company in the world is known to obtain product from this location, which could come from human slaves and/or child labor, and it is said that a majority of large chocolate corporations obtain it the same way.
According to Food is Power:
“In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor, and in some cases slavery, on cocoa farms in Western Africa. Since then, 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. In 2004, the Ivorian First Lady’s entourage allegedly kidnapped and killed a journalist reporting on government corruption in its profitable cocoa industry. In 2010, Ivorian government authorities detained three newspaper journalists after they published an article exposing government corruption in the cocoa sector. The farms of Western Africa supply cocoa to international giants such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestlé—revealing the industry’s direct connection to the worst forms of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery.
In Western Africa, cocoa is a commodity crop grown primarily for export; 60% of the Ivory Coast’s export revenue comes from its cocoa. As the chocolate industry has grown over the years, so has the demand for cheap cocoa. On average, cocoa farmers earn less than $2 per day, an income below the poverty line. As a result, they often resort to the use of child labor to keep their prices competitive.”
A weight of incomprehensible poverty looms over the children of Western Africa, and at a young age many of them are forced to work to support their families. In some cases their own relatives “sell” children to traffickers to produce what becomes chocolate.
Young children are often abducted from villages in neighboring African countries of Mali and Burkina Faso, which are among the poorest countries in the world. They are forced to live out their lives in hell, slavery, a fate worse than death and the result for us is Easter chocolate.
If you’d like to research whether or not your preferred chocolate company uses this labor that amounts to a fate worse than death for some, it would require a little bit of effort because nobody likes to talk about this. This article from Food is Power is very informative.
Please go out of your way to share this with as many people as possible before Easter, which is coming up soon. (A selection of organic, responsibly sourced candy can be found by clicking here.)
(Image credit: LuLu)