The Dark Side of Chocolate

This is a post that may be difficult to read for some of you.  I know it was tough for me to hear and really challenged how I live my life day-to-day.  This is a post about one of our favorite treats, chocolate, and the way it gets from the fields in Africa to grocery store shelves.  The method is one that is not pleasant to hear about, but I think that once you have heard what happens on the farms of cocoa fields, it will make you question your buying decisions.

Recently I viewed a documentary called “The Dark Side of Chocolate.”  It is a film directed by Miki Mistrati and U. Roberto Romano that follows a team of journalists as they investigate how human trafficking and child labor in the Ivory Coast fuels the worldwide chocolate industry. In 2001, the world discovered that there was a serious child slave trafficking industry booming in an area where most large chocolate companies (Hershey’s, Nestle, etc.) get their cocoa beans.

Eventually there was a compromise met that child labor on Ivory Coast Cocoa Farms would be ended by 2005.  This promise was not kept, and neither was the changed deadline of 2008 or 2010.  Through the investigation of the journalist in the film, we see that child labor is still used to pick them today. There are clips in the film of children working in the fields directly after the CEO of a major cocoa distributor is quoted saying there are no child slaves in Ivory Coast.  One quote says “a child can from Burkina-Faso be bought for 230 Euros, and that’s without haggling.”

I have personally made a pledge to only buy fair-trade chocolate from now on because it is not worth it to me to support child slavery just for chocolate.  When I told my mom about this documentary, she said “yeah, but chocolate is so good.”  This seems like a bad response, but really that’s what all of America is saying while the chocolate industry continues to make billions of dollars a year.

I encourage you to watch this documentary and become educated on the subject of cocoa trade.  Hopefully it can at least slow down the chocolate industry enough for it to take notice and truly end this modern-day slavery.