The Darker Side of Chocolate

Godiva gets an F!

“Oh no”, I thought as I watched the Netflix series “Rotten” the episode called Bitter Chocolate.  How could a food so heavenly as chocolate have such a legacy of horror behind it?  Unfortunately, it does. 

Most of the world’s chocolate originates from small farms from Ghana and the Ivory Coast in Western Africa.  There the small farmers are exploited earning maybe $2 a day, living in abject poverty while the huge international corporations are growing richer and richer. Worse, the industry has been relying on child labor and trafficking to produce cocoa at even cheaper prices.  Children are abducted or sold from from small villages in neighboring poorer African countries such as Mali.  Once they have been taken to the cocoa farms, the children may not see their families for years and some never return.

Cocoa farmers are so poor they try to produce more beans by farming in so-called protected forests and national parks. Officials look the other way. The forests in Ivory coast went from 16 million hectares – roughly half of the country – in 1960 to less than 2 million hectares in 2005.”  All this massive deforestation is leading to climate change and the loss of endangered species.

Deforestation in Ivory Coast

But wait, there’s hope!  New companies are committed to producing sustainable chocolate without the use of child labor and by paying farmers a fair living.  I was so happy to find out that Tony’s Chocolate, one of my favorite brands is among them.  Here is a graphic to help you purchase delicious chocolate without causing harm- Sweet!

For more information:

Fair trade choclate brands

Child slavery in cocao farming

Cocoa Farming and deforestation

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