Chocolate is a global delight that many consider to be a favorite indulgence.
Opening the packaging and releasing the rich aroma, not to mention the whole melting in your mouth sensation, is enough to halt a chocolate lover momentarily in a sensory-heightened escape from the mundane.
But do we always think about where our sweet treats travel from in order to get into our hands?
Some of the highest cocoa producing commodities are found in the Western African countries of Ghana and the Ivory Coast. These regions produce over 70% of the world’s cocoa.
These areas are reportedly also responsible for exposing at least 1.8 million children, who are forced to work on cocoa farms, to horrible child labor conditions.
Areas like these where cacao farms exist are inundated with blatant child trafficking and human rights travesties, where farmers are taken advantage of and unjustly paid. Cocoa farmers can earn below the equivalent of $2 per day, and farms tend to enlist child workers to control their expenses.
Children, over half of which are young boys, are either sold by their impoverished families or are kidnapped and enslaved to equip the farms and work long hours. More often than not, they survive under extremely impoverished, unsafe and appalling conditions.They are subject to being beaten daily, and many receive no education or contact with their families.
Fair Trade chocolate, which is identified by specific product labeling, advocates and mandates that fair and ethical labor practices are employed while growing and making the products wearing the label.
Unfortunately, the Fair Trade movement has not been able to completely eradicate the crisis, which is rampant in these and other places worldwide.
Although proactive campaigns are in action to raise awareness to these inhumane tactics, surprisingly a lot of major chocolate companies are still responsible for keeping these hideous practices alive, and their results are prettily packaged on shelves. For the sake of saving money to make money, some big business use these unethical procedures and deceptive marketing, all for the almighty dollar.
Thinking of ways to eliminate this unsettling cacao underground may appear overwhelming, but the solution can be as simple as refusing to purchase chocolate that is not Fair Trade certified or does not make its origin known.
This step may seem small for such a large scale crisis, but when shopping for chocolate whether online or on the shelf, choosing to support humanitarian products gives buyers the ultimate authority to decide what will be tolerated in production.
It can be hard to rationalize paying more for purchases, but when light is shed on the true background of a product, sometimes paying the price at the register is the least we can do.
Consumer influence is what ultimately drives the demand for merchandise. As the awareness and standard requirement for ethically derived items increases, it can help diminish this seemingly silent chocolate epidemic.
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