Thursday, June 12, 2008

Are your hands clean . . of tainted chocolate?

Are you supporting child slavery by buying the wrong kind of chocolate? Pay attention!!
Today (June 12th) is World Day Against Child Labor!

ON THE SAFE SIDE, TRY AMANO CHOCOLATES out of Orem, Utah, a small artisan operation where owner Art Pollard travels to the plantations himself.

Yesterday I was at the Cooperative to buy some of my favorite bulk chocolate and noticed it was no longer available. Why, I asked Gabe, who is in charge of the bulk food who said the Co-op is discontinuing any chocolate that may have been made from chocolate that has been "pooled" which he explained later in a response to this post, is "chocolate from everywhere all dumped into one vat." They are doing this to avoid any product that they cannot confirm is made without slave labor. He says they are not requiring that all chocolate is Certified Fair Trade that's not certified fair trade.

Americans spend 13 billion on chocolate a year. Much of that is commodity chocolate and a percentage of that is from plantations like many on the Ivory coast that use child labor.

Chocolate and Slave Labor on the Ivory Coast- check out this video:

"The best chocolate in the world... produced by illiterate 10-year old boys."

"A sound economy can't be built on the back of a child" BBC World TV series.

Most of the 300,000 school aged kids work in dangerous conditions in Africa's cocoa fields.

In riveting detail, the series profiled young boys who were tricked into slavery, or sold as slaves, to Ivory Coast cocoa farmers. Ivory Coast, located on the southern coast of West Africa, is by far the world's largest supplier of cocoa beans, providing 43% of the world's supply. There are 600,000 cocoa farms in Ivory Coast which together account for one-third of the nation's entire economy.

An investigative report by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in 2000 indicated
the size of the problem. According to the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children are being purchased from their parents for a pittance, or in some cases outright stolen, and then shipped to the Ivory Coast, where they are sold as slaves to cocoa farms. These children typically come from countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Destitute parents in these poverty-stricken lands sell their children to traffickers believing that they will find honest work once they arrive in Ivory Coast and then send some of their earnings home. But that's not what happens. These children, usually 12-to-14-years-old but sometimes younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing, are barely fed, are beaten regularly, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again.

Most organic cocoa beans are coming from Ivory Coast, so organic chocolate is unlikely to be tainted by slavery. Newman's Own Organics is one of the largest of the slavery-free companies. The company's chocolate is purchased through the Organic Commodity Project in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It comes from Costa Rica where the farms are closely monitored.

These companies include Clif Bar, Cloud Nine, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Denman Island Chocolate, Gardners Candies, Green and Black's, Kailua Candy Company, Koppers Chocolate, L.A. Burdick Chocolates, Montezuma's Chocolates, Newman's Own Organics, Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company, Rapunzel Pure Organics, and The Endangered Species Chocolate Company.

Chocolate's Bittersweet Economy


Anonymous said...

To clarify a bit, First Alternative Co-op is discontinuing any chocolate that may have been made from chocolate that has been "pooled" (chocolate from everywhere all dumped into one vat) to avoid product that we cannot confirm is made without slave labor,we are not requiring that all chocolate is Certified Fair Trade

Jen said...

Thanks Gabe, I'll change the post to reflect this. By the way... the video I took of you, I've tried to download it twice but the file is so big the program has kicked me off both times. I still plan to add it and will send you an email when I get it up.