The bitter taste of our favorite sweet.
When you think of chocolate, you likely think of your favorite recipe for chocolate cake, a gooey candybar, or a steaming mug of hot cocoa. Did you ever think chocolate could be linked to human bondage? Child slavery? Civil wars and unspeakable suffering? I didn't either, until I read this article - “Cocoa and Conflict: A Look at Côte d'Ivoire”
That article is just a drop in the bucket though. Apparently about half of the world's supply of cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast where the profits are used to fund both sides of a civil war between the Government and rebels. Child slaves are caught and sold to harvest the cocoa. Arms bought with the proceeds are used to continue the conflict which includes political assassinations, “disappearances” and torture. Families are separated. Lives are ruined. Suddenly that candy doesn't taste quite so sweet.
But there is something you CAN do about it. For one thing, stop buying chocolate of unknown origins. Make sure that any cocoa or chocolate you purchase is certified fair trade. In leiu of that, call the company of whatever product you are considering purchasing and ask “Where do you get your cocoa? Did you know about the link between slavery and chocolate?” Vote with your pocketbook, and voice your concerns to any company you may have questions about. They will appreciate the feedback. I know that I feel better knowing my son's cereal is both vegan and slave free. I don't want to feed my son, myself, or anyone in my family something flavored with the misery of others. I'll take my cocoa with compassion.
For a list of fair trade cocoa/chocolate:
For more info on this subject: