Slavery Ruins Everything

Now that I’ve learned about cocoa harvesting, I can’t buy chocolate that isn’t Fair Trade Certified.   Knowing  that everything we buy is tainted with injustice somewhere along the line is troubling. You can’t give up everything; but child slavery is a good place to draw the line.

The Ivory Coast provides 43% of the  cocoa  beans used to make the world’s chocolate. The US Department of State estimates that more than 109,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry work under “the worst forms of child labor,” and that some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement.

In 2001, in an attempt to avoid government regulation and intense media scrutiny, major cocoa companies made a voluntary commitment (the Cocoa Industry Protocol) to certify their cocoa “child labor-free” by July 2005, but that deadline passed with little fanfare. The deadline was then extended to certify 50% of farms “child-labor free” by July 2008. The cocoa companies trumpeted a few pilot programs, but continue to purchase and reap profits from child labor cocoa.

Hershey has been the slow to implement changes and has been the subject of an email campaign. Now, they have issued a press release, announcing a $10 million investment in West Africa to improve cocoa farming but it’s not clear that this will help any actual people.


“Americans alone spend $13 billion a year on chocolate.” Ha, at least half of that comes from me, personally.

I need chocolate to live. I am not  exaggerating. Without chocolate and coffee, there would be no reason to get out of bed or even breathe. My favorite form of chocolate is Toblerone and it isn’t Fair Trade Certified. It’s owned by Kraft, which helps to diminish its appeal, somewhat. Maybe I’ll have to write to them and beg them to get on board.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Favorite chocolate?

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27 Responses to Slavery Ruins Everything

  1. BethUK says:

    Sucks, doesn’t it. I have a husband who loves the non-fair chocolate and can’t give it up. He’s a bad influence on me…

    Being a UK type I don’t know much about American chocolate. Divine chocolate is good and you can get it in the USA.

    I always try my local healthy/veggie type shops if they stock chocolate it’s usually fair trade.

  2. Jen says:

    I like People Tree’s fair trade hazelnut. But I’ve given that up since I went vegan. I’m learning to love dark chocolate now.

  3. alicia says:

    I’m a sucker for Ferrero Rocher, but they only appear in my pantry when I’m about to get my period… at which point I demolish an entire box without fail.

  4. candy says:

    I agree with you about the chocolate part and coffee. Somehow, everything is tainted like you said, diamond, chocolate, coffee, clothes….I like chocolate but I don’t have cravings all the time, it’s not something I have at home all the time or on the grocery list, however, there are times when I eat them (christmas) and times when I just don’t feel likeit. I like Toblerone but I find very hard to chew, I used to eat a lot of chocolate in forms of bars: lion, sneakers, kinder bueno. When I was in France, I used to eat Cote d’or (chocolate with an elephant on it). This one Sister you should try. It’s very good. Here, I like Hershey’s but with the one with coffee in it, I don’t remember the name as it is recent, but I do remember this lady at walmart made us try some and then Hubby and I decided to buy some.
    Ithink at this point, the problem is that if we decide to boycott those products, the producing countries won’t have any work for their people. I don’t know if the corporations want us to feel guilt over everything but it seems so. They have it their way no matter what. For diamonds, though, I know I would feel so gulty to have diamonds, given, they mutilate people…

  5. andrea says:

    Buy your chocolate at Whole Foods. They have a lot to choose from and it is all checked out before they sell it.

  6. Cristine says:

    Sjaaks Organic Chocolates-best chocolate ever! Family owned in northern CA.
    Their caramels are too die for…

  7. honeypants says:

    Dammit, that really sucks! I feel like you about chocolate. It is as essential to my existence as sleep, water, and shelter. My favorite kind if forced to choose is probably Baci. But I don’t get that as frequently as I’d like. What I do is whenever I go to World Market or Whole Foods, I’ll buy several big bars in different mixes. The only thing essential is that it must be dark. Milk chocolate is a waste of calories. I discovered World Market’s Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Caramel bark over the holidays, and it’s giving Baci a run for its money. I love it in toffee form, with hazelnuts or almonds, chili, mint, and coconut. I can do without fruit & chocolate, and white chocolate can take a long walk off a short pier. Oh, Storck Riesen! I don’t like to waste my time with the Big American Brands.

  8. Hammie says:

    Am eating toblerone as I read. Eat some Ben & Jerry’s fair trade macadamia & chocolate to make up for it. And an Aussie or kiwi Pinot noir to wash it down. They don’t exploit kids. xx

  9. sisty says:

    Well, you are exasperating, but not in this instance. 🙂

  10. Juli says:

    I received a box of chocolates straight from Paris made by Ladurée from my next door neighbor as a thank-you gift. My god. I have never tasted better chocolate in my life. I wish I could share them with you Sister! They are heaven in an exquisite little green box. Hopefully no child labor was involved!

  11. I only buy fairtrade which limits your choice considerable and I absolutely LOVE Toblerone I can eat a giant sized one no problems.

    I will try and send you some Fairtrade chocolate samples and see waht you think!!

  12. Dru says:

    It’s funny, as I get older I like chocolate a lot less. But I still LOVE KitKats (oddly, only the ones made in the UK will do) and After Eights. And Ghirardelli is wonderful.

    And of course, there’s my eternal favourite, Nutella (I had strawberries and Nutella for a snack yesterday- YUM).

  13. Dru says:

    On the flip side: Hershey’s/Mars can go fuck themselves. I don’t know how they make chocolate so actively terrible that even I, who grew up in a poor Third World country, think it tastes like shit. I’m not kidding, Hershey’s bars actually taste curdled, and as for those tiny turd-shaped things they have the nerve to call Hershey’s Kisses…UGH.

    (and again, I will get stuck in moderation)

  14. Juri says:

    Lindt chili chocolate.

  15. Simone says:

    If you can’t find Divine Chocolate where you live, both Dagoba and Green & Blacks brands are fair-trade and widely available.
    Even after the Dagoba founder had an erotic visitation from Xochiquetzal, a Mesoamerican goddess of cacao, he still sold it to Hershey’s: boo. Nonetheless, you would be still supporting farmers and enjoying some of the most delicious chocolate in the world – plus showing Hershey’s the viability of fair trade.
    Have a happy, fair-trade Valentine’s Day, everyone. <3

  16. kate says:

    oh sister, i know your pain so well. i have many health/justice/animal rights/liberal minded friends on facebook, where the easiest way to communicate your point of view is to share an awful image from the industry of your choice with a short explanation of what beloved product this atrocity benefits. so.
    now i can’t eat bacon, chicken, non-organic spinach, non-organic potatoes or shrimp… also can’t shop at american apparel, urban outfitters, forever 21 or apple. not to mention fast food restaurants, walmart or target.
    a good rule of thumb: if you have been enjoying it your whole life, it’s cheap and convenient, and no large media network has ever called it out, well, they are probably evil and exploitative! that was easy!
    one of my favorite chocolates is the stuff you get at ikea. you get lots, which is my favorite quality in chocolate.

  17. Tracey says:

    Just saw this film the other day…

    and unfortunately Fair Trade doesn’t mean slavery wasn’t involved in your chocolate bar… balls.

  18. candy says:

    I am sorry Dru, I didn’t mean to cite Hershey’s as a good chocolate, I didn’t know they used slavery..I apologize. I would stop eating anything that makes people unhappy. I can give up any food. I am the type who once I see something on tv (horror scene, documentary, gross picture), I can’t go on without thinking about it, for at least few days, Then it gets inside my brain until something triggers it. If for example, I see something bloody on tv while I am eating I stop eating. I have a very good memory and that doesn’t help me deal with trauma very well. I watched the documentary on diamonds and watched the movie blood diamond, I am not attracted to that stone, people die because of it. Worse, they get mutilated, both hands cut. See, if I am in an argument with my husband over something, that thing should go or we find a solution about it, it’s not worth our soul, really? It happened with a bike, for example, I started hating that thing because of an argument over it. I hate arguing over things or people, off course, if people are involved, then I stop seeing them or getting them involved with my life….
    However, if a person likes chocolate and doesn’t care, then that’s their problem, not mine.
    I also come from a third world country, and immigrate as a toodler, so Iunderstand what you mean.
    Much love

  19. Sister Wolf says:

    sisty – I wondered why you said I was exasperating until just now, when my husband pointed out the spellcheck mistake.

    honeypants – “Milk chocolate is a waste of calories.” So true. The first time I tasted dark chocolate with sea salt, I saw the face of god.

  20. Hmmmm’s an idea for one-stop shopping.. women’s shoes made out of chocolate. Fortunes could be made.. “Turn bunions into funions!”

  21. Cricket9 says:

    Oh, crap – it seems that NOTHING is simple or clear anymore:

    I, like Kate, don’t eat meat (I do eat shrimps tough), should not buy anything made in China, no diamonds – well, I can live without them, no this and no that – either it’s bad for you, or full of pesticides, or unethically produced. I go grocery shopping and then strange paralysis descends on me… truly, ignorance is bliss.

  22. Jules says:

    If I buy chocolate, I buy organic and fair-trade, but something I discovered a few months ago, made me rethink the brands I bought and that was the fact that several small organic brands have been bought out by larger brands such as Hersheys and Kraft. So even though it’s more work I look up the brands I buy and make sure that they are small and honest companies. Just takes some looking around online or a trip to a local health store…

    Love, Jules

  23. Eva says:

    i can’t stop reading your blog. i have to say i love you. hehe.
    and i’d love to send you some of my favourite chocolate!! where the toblerone and my humble self come from

  24. Nicola says:

    So, I had a dream the other night. I have been a little anxious lately, for reasons I blame on my HRH ( Horrible Russian Husband ( credit to russialite blog for fantastic universal name for Post Soviet ass****’s everywhere )

    In this fantastic and telling dream, I am standing in a whole foods market and spy a big jar of chocolate sauce. Immediately, I proclaimed,’ Oh, now this stuff changes my brain chemistry just looking at it! ‘

    How’s that for a subconscious crazy lady self diagnosis. Cadbury’s fruit and nut works wonders for me, too. Obviously.

  25. Ann says:

    sustainable chocolate 🙂

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