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See a Cocoa Bean Farmer Try His First Bite of Chocolate

See a Cocoa Bean Farmer Try His First Bite of Chocolate

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.

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229 comments

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8:02PM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

I am sooooooo not chocolate

10:06AM PDT on Aug 12, 2014

Knowing this now, it would be great if the people buying these cocoa beans to make chocolate from these poor farmers and their families would supply them with a case of chocolate bars as a bonus each time they purchase their cocoa beans. Seems like such a small price to pay for what would be a big difference and bring some joy in their lives.

3:28PM PDT on Aug 11, 2014

It is only chocolate if it is 60+% cocoa. The only butter should be cocoa butter. Anything else and it is not real chocolate although 85+% is a little much for me. 72% is my favorite. It is definitely an acquired taste, especially for people who are used to Hershey's Kisses and other candy chocolate.

1:45AM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

Thank you for sharing.

8:12PM PDT on Aug 9, 2014

wow, awesome :) I enjoyed the video

2:00PM PDT on Aug 9, 2014

Thank you! What an amazing discovery for us! So shameful! Maybe if there were a way they could provide themselves with affordable access to chocolate, their world would change for the better!

10:20PM PDT on Aug 8, 2014

Noted- thank you

9:38PM PDT on Aug 8, 2014

Most people have no clue how much hard work goes into producing the food they eat so casually every day.

Somebody does the demanding, repetitive work of milking cows twice a day so you can buy a gallon of milk. You never see that work. You just profit from it.

Somebody grows the gain that makes your bread, fighting Mother Nature every inch of the way, and lucky if he makes a scant profit in the end. You never see that work. You just profit from it.

Somebody grows the lettuce and tomatoes on the salad bar, just like somebody grows the potatoes and the onions in the produce aisle. You never see that work, either. Just like you don't see the back-breaking work that goes into raising cattle, sheep, or hogs.

Whatever you eat, be it meat or vegetable, you have a farmer somewhere to thank for it. If all small farmers went on strike tomorrow, you'd either starve or have to pay the double or tripled prices the factory farms would then command.

If you have the chance to buy locally grown produce, say at a farmer's market or even a vegetable stand, do it. Support your local farming community as much and as often as possible. Farming is hard, dirty work -- but it feeds you, and it feeds your family. Return the favor when the opportunity arises.

8:17PM PDT on Aug 8, 2014

I HAVE THE OUT MOST RESPECT FOR THESE HARD WORKERS.IT MAID ME HAPPY TO SEE ALL OF THESE MEN LAUGHING,AND JOKING AROUND OVER ONE LITTLE PIECE OF CHOCOLATE.I JUST ADORE THEM. BOY IF ONLY I HAD MONEY,I'D VISIT AND BRING THEM POUNDS OF CHOCOLATE AND FILL THERE POCKET'S FULL OF MONEY. YOUR THE BEST! THANK-YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR ALL YOU DO. AND BLESS YOU ALL. THANK'S A BUNCH FOR SHARING WITH US KEVIN MATHEWS. THERESA R.

11:01AM PDT on Aug 8, 2014

ty

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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