The Fair Trade movement was a milestone in the coffee and chocolate world, marking a tremendous success in raising awareness of the working conditions of people in coffee plantations worldwide. Most importantly, this awareness helped to bring about changes in the lives of thousands of people, by helping consumers to understand how their purchases are affecting the lives of the people who made their products.
But what about those companies that aren’t particularly concerned about the quality of life of their farm’s workers? While we as Americans purchase a huge amount of chocolate (with the average American eating around 11 pounds each year), we rarely think of where all of this chocolate is coming from. But it might be time to start…
Recently, that’s become a huge issue: Last September, an activist group filed a lawsuit against some of the world’s biggest chocolate manufacturers. In this, it was claimed that the companies were using child slave labor from West Africa in order to produce their confections! Far from being “undesirable” working conditions, this would be downright illegal.
Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is mainly supplied by growers in West Africa. With as much as 60% of the world’s supply originating from a war-torn country, the chocolate industry has been concerned about its stability for years. While the biggest chocolate companies have been promising for years to eliminate child slave labor on their farms, it’s yet to have gone fully into effect.
To put this in perspective: The laborers, anywhere from 11 to 16 years old, are held captive on isolated farms, working 80 to 100 hours a week without breaks. Enduring constant beatings for any mistake made, the children are denied any possibility of escape or hope for a better life. What can you do to not support this terrible treatment? Don’t buy chocolate from the following six companies:
Quoting Elizabeth Jardim, a director of an ethical consumerism group: “At the moment, no major chocolate company can guarantee their cocoa supply is not tainted by child labor. However, most have launched sustainability programs that attempt to address child labor in a variety of ways, largely thanks to consumer pressure.” However, while these programs are still not producing results (with the number of child slaves increasing from 2009 to 2014), the authors strongly recommend to choose a more socially conscious purveyor of chocolate from this list, taken from here
L.A. Burdick Chocolates
Denman Island Chocolate
Newman’s Own Organics
Kailua Candy Company
Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company
Take a look at the article that inspired this one here