This annual Halloween-time (re)post
is disturbing, but the information is too
important to ignore. Please be mindful of these facts when purchasing your Halloween candy and/or when feeding a cocoa craving.
The data to follow is based on my research in the fall of 2010. Hershey’s hasn’t budged since then, despite routine empty promises.
Two of my great loves – kids and chocolate – have
been at a morbid impasse for years or, perhaps, centuries. While I
previously enjoyed a blissful dose of cheap (i.e., Hershey’s) chocolate,
I was ignorant of the true cost of this pleasantry.
Every year thousands of children are kidnapped, trafficked, and sold to
cocoa plantations. The average price per child: $1.20-1.90. The rate of
pay: $.01 for chocolate that is sold for $1 in the United States.
Sometimes they aren’t paid at all. Yet they are forced to endure 12-18 hour
workdays, handle machetes, climb high trees –
while exposed to hazardous chemicals in a treacherous climate. Those who rebel or perform “poorly” are beaten. Those attempting to
escape are killed. A vast majority of these known abuses -over
15,000 annually- occur in West Africa’s Ivory Coast.
While Hershey’s claims moral outrage, it continues business with the
Ivory Coast. Meanwhile other chocolate companies assure exploitation-free products. Certainly the world’s largest chocolate corporation, boasting over $5 billion in revenue annually, can afford to take a stance.
pay $15 billion for chocolate each year, with nearly 43% of this for
Hershey’s candies. This monstrous entity acquired Sharffen-Berger in
2005 and Dagoba in 2006. It continues to produce many non-chocolate
products, such as Twizzlers, along with numerous non-food items.
Fortunately there are plenty of alternatives. The most safe option carries a Fair Trade Label.
This guarantees a minimum price for
farmers, prohibits abusive labor, and promotes environmental
sustainability. We pay a bit more for fair trade chocolate, but dollars go directly
to community resources such as schools and hospitals.
Fair trade cocoa originates in Belize, Bolivia, Cameroon, Costa Rica,
the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Peru. To find out
a chocolate bar’s source, simply look at the back label.
A second option is organic
chocolate (e.g., Newman’s Organics). Organic farms have their own systems of independent monitoring that
checks labor practices.
There’s much guesstimating in this area. Here's my best effort to
delineate some of the “good” vs the “bad.” On the good team, I included
companies that have begun socially conscious efforts.
There’s plenty of slavery-free chocolate, too, that is neither Fair Trade Certified nor organic. When in doubt, AVOID HERSHEY'S.
Good Chocolate: Cadbury Canada, Ben
& Jerry's, Starbuck's, Ah!laska, Endangered Species, Ithaca,
Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Newman's Organics, Clif Bar, Guittard, Green
and Black's, Mayordomo/Mexican chocolate, European chocolate, smaller mom & pop brands, and lots more.
Thank you, and enjoy fair-trade chocolate this Halloween and always!