Posted By admin on February 7, 2010
Millions of Americans honor loved ones each Valentine’s Day with the pleasures of sweet creamy chocolates, but a bitter secret lies beneath the production of the confection. Major manufactures of chocolate purchase their cocoa from West Africa, where child labor exploitation is prevalent and hundreds of thousands of children work on cocoa farms.
More than 70% of the world’s chocolate is produced from cocoa beans grown in West Africa where children work for low wages or are sold into conditions of “modern day slavery.” Children found begging in the streets are promised compensation in return for labor but find themselves thrust into a world of overwork, hunger, abuse, injuries, and unsanitary overcrowded living conditions. These children, lost in a system of injustice, can work as long as 80 to 100 hours per week.
Chocolate manufacturers argue that they cannot be held accountable for conditions that have created a labor market where children are driven to work by families desperate for income. Some are sold to traffickers for as low as $80 as poverty stricken parents see no alternatives. Assigning blame and correcting the problem are complicated issues, and many consumers unwillingly support the travesty, but the removal of this support remains one of the few weapons that could conceivably introduce change.
It has been over a decade since the controversial practices of the cocoa industry have been brought to light. Unfortunately little progress has been made in aiding children that are exhausted, uneducated, deprived of medical care, and in some cases starved and abused. Additionally, these children are exposed to harmful levels of pesticides and face work related injuries.
What can we do? Purchase Organic or Certified Fair Trade chocolate.
Look for the Certified Fair Trade logo on your purchases.
This label guarantees the product was produced within fair trade guidelines and that a fair wage was provided for the workers. Cocoa is one of the most common Fair Trade certified crops.
Does it cost more? Of course it does. Workers are paid, children are protected, education is supported and healthy living and working conditions are provided. Provisions most of us never have to think about.
If chocolate is part of your celebration, spread the love this Valentine’s Day with Fair Trade Certified or Organic chocolate.
Click here for a list of Fair Trade cocoa companies.