Even if you resist the temptation to eat chocolate every day, it’s probably rare for you to go more than a week without consuming some of that sweet goodness, right? We take chocolate for granted as a common dessert in America, but it turns out that in other parts of the world, many aren’t even familiar with chocolate. Specifically, that includes the Ivory Coast, a West African country responsible for producing a full third of the world’s cocoa beans.
How is it that the people most responsible for chocolate haven’t tried chocolate before? Fascinated by this bizarre scenario, Selay Kouassi, an international journalist, visited cocoa bean farmers in the Ivory Coast to give them their first bite of chocolate. The video shows that touching moment:
The first man Kouassi meets with, N’Da Alphonse, admits that he doesn’t know why people pay him for this crop in the first place. “Frankly, I do not know what one makes from cocoa beans. I’m just trying to earn a living with growing cocoa.” Upon discovering the sweet taste for the first time, he declares, “I did not know that cocoa was so yummy.” Considering that cocoa beans are bitter until blended with butter and sugar, Alphonse’s reaction is understandable.
Afterwards, Alphonse takes Kouassi to meet fellow farmers who are also unaware of what happens to the beans they harvest. One of the growers is under the mistaken impression that cocoa beans are primarily cultivated to make wine. “We complain because growing cocoa is hard work,” said one farmer upon trying chocolate for the first time. “Now we enjoy the result. What a privilege to taste it.”
Not having tasted chocolate is possibly the least of these exploited workers’ worries. The cocoa bean industry is flooded with claims of human trafficking and child slave labor.
In truth, there is a limited amount of chocolate available in parts of the Ivory Coast, but it retails for an unattainable $2.69. Considering that Alphonse makes just $9.40 per day and uses it to support 19 people, chocolate is a luxury that he could never realistically afford.
The video serves as a good reminder of the privileges American society has access to that people in other parts of the world can’t even comprehend – despite being a part of the labor force that creates these products. Can you imagine working day in and day out to produce something that you don’t even understand? Americans typically at least have a sense of what the end goal is at their jobs, but these cocoa bean farmers aren’t even in a position to ask what people in other parts of the world do with their products.
Cocoa bean workers aren’t alone in being clueless toward the end result of their labor. CNN has a video of an anonymous teenage Foxconn employee who spends extended hours each day constructing screens for iPads but had never seen the finished product before. After trying it out, she said she liked the gadget and hoped she could afford one one day — something that wouldn’t be possible on her current sweatshop wages.