"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence
Halloween is just around the next dark alley… I mean corner. And I’m not here to rain on your costume parade, trample your trick-or-treating dreams, or clean the cobwebs of your haunted house. On a serious note though, you can’t make informed decisions without information, without awareness. So bear with me and do what you deem best.
The store aisles are lined with rubber monster masks, colorful wigs, and vampire dentures but there’s something much more frightening on those shelves. Chocolate. Chocolate sales go through the roof on holidays like Halloween, Easter, and Valentine’s Day. A little cocoa-y goodness is great now and then. Until someone gets hurt.
Of the two major companies that make chocolate products, Hershey and Nestle, source the majority of their cocoa from plantations on the Ivory Coast. Most of those plantations incorporate the forced labor of children. These children are sold by their poor families for food, or tricked by the promise of a job, or kidnapped from their homes. They are forced to work in the fields for long hours every day, wielding sharp and unsafe equipment (like machetes), if they are injured they will be denied proper medical care, and are unable to attend school. In short, they become slaves. They are purchased, used, and discarded as property. We hear of blood diamonds, but what about blood chocolate?
But now that you know, what can you do? We don’t live near these plantations, we aren’t equipped to rescue these children, and now we can’t pretend we know nothing about it. But our dollars are powerful. We make decisions with our dollars. There are plantations that hire field workers and pay them a fair wage, that do not force child slaves to work for them. We can buy from them. We can tell Hershey, Nestle, and other companies that we will only buy fair trade chocolate. Years ago Hershey and Nestle promised to move towards fair trade cocoa suppliers but it hasn’t happened yet, a few steps in the right direction, sure, but we’re not there yet. We can sign petitions imploring these companies to only purchase cocoa from fair trade sources. Find some of those petitions here.
Trafficking works off of supply and demand. When we demand low prices at any cost, that’s just what we get. But when we demand good treatment of all people involved in the sourcing of our products, there will no longer be a reason to steal children and force them into slavery. Our economy isn’t in it’s strongest state. But nothing is more valuable than human life. Now the choice is yours when you go to the store and shop for trick-or-treat candy.
I’ve committed to only purchasing fair trade chocolate. Will you join me?
You can learn more about trafficking and cocoa by watching the documentary The Dark Side Of Chocolate.