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I Love Chocolate, But…

2010/04/24 1 comment

I love chocolate. It’s true. Nothing makes me happier that having the sensuous feel of a piece of rich chocolate slowly melt on my tongue.

So you can imagine my surprise when five years ago I found a dirty truth about our chocolate. Most of the world’s chocolate is harvested by child slaves. Yes, that’s right. Not child labor. Child slaves.

I found that children in the producing countries are often lured away from their families. Perhaps an eight year old boy is told he looks like a strapping athlete. Would he like to grow up to be a football star? He can get his big chance if only he comes right now. No, we’ll tell Mom later or we’ll miss out. And he’s gone.

Gone to a farm where he and others like him would spend grueling days working on the chocolate. At times fed stuff that we would consider unsuitable for our pets. And nights locked into what anyone would call a prison. If they try to escape they are beaten. This was not some story of human cruelty in the days of Mark Twain. This was in my time, and I was horrified that it could happen at all. I’m gullible that way.

I boycotted all chocolate for a while and told just about everyone I knew about the situation. After a while I heard of some chocolates that were fair trade that controlled the entire supply line to make sure this did not happen.

Over the next year or so, the news came more into the mainstream though of course it never got the coverage that really important news stories like who some celebrity had breakfast with. Good news! There was enough ruckus to have people start talking about laws on the import of chocolate. And the chocolate companies were feeling enough of a sting from the public to pay some attention.

But the companies felt that government intervention was not the way to go. They formed a coalition to plan for controls of the supply line. They would provide a program of certifying farms as being slave free, including having their own agent perform inspections on the farms.

Life was good. I could go back to my chocolate.

Come this Easter I found this article which said since Easter was a time for such heavy chocolate consumption, that it was also a good time to review the effort of the chocolate companies over the preceding year and give them a report card. The news was absolutely dismal. Basically the companies were doing a lot of “work”, but most of it was talk about what they might do and lots of PR about the talk of what they might do. Nothing concrete had been done to significantly reduce the number of kids in this situation.

Needless to say, I’m off chocolate again. And mad as hell. Mad at the companies for not taking their position seriously. And mad at me for being stupid enough to believe it without further research.

I’d love to hear others on this. And please, pass the word along in every way you can.

–Al-

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