Would You Sell Your Child For Chocolate?

It’s here.  The big V Day. Yes, that’s right.  The day that Americans dole out billions of dollars on that dark, sweet delicacy- chocolate.  Did you know that the U.S. spends $16.7 billion on chocolate each year? And, on the day you profess love to your sweetie, Valentine’s Day, Americans spend an average of $40.  
Let’s be honest here.  Every woman, including myself, loves a piece of chocolate.  Or, for that matter, 100 pieces. Until recently, I never stopped to think where the chocolate that I love so much comes from.  I have been doing a little digging lately and I started to realize that there is a very dark side to chocolate that we don’t hear about very often.

Here’s the basic rundown.  West Africa grows over 70% of the world’s supply of cacao. And the Ivory Coast produces more of it than the rest of West Africa.  So what? Well, a UNICEF study reported that 200,000 children are trafficked yearly in West and Central Africa. Many of the adults and children that are trafficked to the Ivory Coast are being exploited as they work on cacao farms used to make the chocolate that we buy at our local grocery stores.  

Can you imagine destitute parents selling their children to traffickers in hopes that things will take a bright turn once they arrive on the Ivory Coast?  Once they arrive, these children become bonded laborers and will work 80 to 100 hours a week.  Can you imagine selling your child into something like this for chocolate?

I am not saying that we should never eat chocolate, but what I am saying is there is a good choice we can all make.  When you want to purchase chocolate, go for chocolate labeled Fair Trade.  Fair Trade is where purchasers of products such as chocolate and coffee agree to pay an above market price. The money is used to help the small farms and cooperatives selling the products make improvements in their communities such as building schools, hospitals and increasing the availability of clean drinking water.

When we lived in Seattle, the family and I loved to make trips to Fremont to visit Theo’s Chocolate Factory.  If you are ever in the area, they are the best and the first organic, Fair Trade, Bean-To-Bar
Chocolate Factory in the United States.  And, of course, their chocolate is delicious.  There are many other Fair Trade brands.  And, yes, they are available at your local grocery store.

I know the holiday is almost over, but the next time you buy chocolate, remember buying slave-free chocolate can make a difference. 

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