Upon processing this information, I closed my google search that had led to my discovery and decided that as the head of the Precious Child Foundation, as a mother to an African child, and as a human, I would never again eat chocolate made from the backs of slave children.
Though my choice might sound noble, I’m not going to say it’s been an easy one. Chocolate is everywhere! The good news is that some chocolate is fair trade chocolate. This means that not only were the farmers who harvested it paid fairly, BUT also that no enslaved children were used in the making or production process (care2.com).
A person once interviewed a freed child slave who had never tasted chocolate. The interviewer asked this boy what he thought of Americans eating the chocolate. The boy responded, “The people enjoy something that I suffered to make.” He added, "When people eat chocolate, they are eating my flesh." (foodispower.org)
These children may also be beaten and sometimes forced to work more than eighty hours a week to harvest cocoa. As adults, we think that our plate is full just working forty hours. I cannot imagine being a twelve-year old who doesn’t have an opportunity to go to school, play, and dream about who or what to be when he or she grows up. Our choice to eat chocolate may be stealing someone’s childhood.
Many companies use fair trade chocolate in Canada and the UK but use ‘slave’ chocolate in the US for the same candy bars because America has not stood up to recognize this wrong like other countries. As long as we allow Hershey’s, Nestles, Mars, and others, to use children for profit, they will.
So this Valentine’s Day let’s LOVE someone more than chocolate and make the decision to give fair trade. It will mean much for the kids being forced into slavery to make it. Every time someone chooses to not buy Hersheys’, or Mars, or other companies that use slave chocolate, they are one step closer to being freed. There are amazing chocolate options on the market that taste better than the usual stuff. It’s just a matter of shopping at a different store to buy it. Whole Foods makes really tasty chocolate called 365 and TCHO chocolate is a California company that has equally tasty treats. Want some ice cream? Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream recently went fair trade! So eat all the Chocolate Fudge Brownie your little heart desires. Chocolate company Divine makes dark chocolate mint thins that are well, Divine. Divine not only pays the farmers a fair price for their chocolate, but also made them shareholders. The farmers own the largest shares of the company so they receive fairtrade premium and company profits too.
And here’s the best part…When you buy free trade, you’re not only telling companies that other human lives matter, but YOU are actually helping others too. Remember, fair trade means that children were not used on the cocoa farms, AND farmers were paid a fair price for their farming and harvesting (care2.com). The practice of fair trade is ethically sound in many facets of business. Look for the seal and know you’re making a difference. I’ve found cocoa powder, hot chocolate, candy, and chocolate chips for baking. As we join in the move to make a difference, we’ll create a demand for a greater selection of products. Who knew that by making a choice to choose differently, we can make a greater difference in the lives of others?!