Chocolate Isn’t So Sweet

I am allergic to chocolate. It gives me migraines. But that doesn’t stop me from eating it. Over the years I’ve just learned how much I can get away with by trial and error. I love chocolate.

So if the prospect of excruciating pain would not deter me from eating this delectable treat, and my ever-increasing waistline clearly hasn’t, what would? Well, I must admit that this documentary, “The Dark Side of Chocolate” certainly has me rethinking my consumption habits. It reveals that child labor and even slavery is very common in the cocoa industry in Western Africa.

From there, I read this article from the Food Empowerment Project, and it made me feel even more uncomfortable.

I’ll let those two sources provide you with the statistics, but suffice it to say that children have been sold, abducted and/or deceived in order to be forced to work on these cocoa plantations. They are often beaten, deprived of education, forced to survive on a diet of corn paste and bananas, all while working inhumane hours using very dangerous tools that leave them scarred. They are locked in at night as they sleep on the floor, and are whipped if they try to run away. Many never see their families again.

That’s what you are most likely holding in your hand if you are holding a candy bar. And some of the worst culprits are the larger chocolate companies, such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle. The industry hopes to keep this a dirty little secret. In fact, several reporters have been killed trying to get this story to you. After all, there’s big money in chocolate.

Suddenly chocolate doesn’t taste so sweet to me.

All is not lost, however. Go here for a list of companies that source their cocoa from Latin America and Asia, where this horrible cycle of child labor on cocoa plantations is not currently in evidence. (Seattleites, great news! Theo Chocolate is on the list!) It’s still possible to eat chocolate without compromising your morals. It’s just harder, because 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from Western Africa.

If I could stop all child abuse on these plantations by never eating another piece of chocolate again as long as I live, I would do it. It would be hard, but not nearly as hard as what these children are forced to endure. But as with all important changes in the world, it’s going to take more than just me. As individuals, making smarter chocolate purchases is the very least we can do.

chocolate-slaves

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5 thoughts on “Chocolate Isn’t So Sweet

  1. Elaine

    Thanks for the link to the list. I don’t eat very much chocolate, but I do buy it for my son. I will look for better choices.

    1. Fortunately there are a lot of companies on that list. Unfortunately, they generally don’t place their product in the “impulse buy” section, right by the cash register. Also, there’s the dilemma of the chocolate desserts at restaurants, and the chocolate in ice cream… It sucks to be responsible!

  2. Pingback: What are We Missing? – The View from a Drawbridge

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