The truth about what goes behind the making of chocolate

Valentines Day has come and gone and the chocolate industry had a consumer boon as they always have every year at this time. I myself am a big chocolate consumer myself and I was going to be a fellow participant this year, until I heard a rather disturbing news story. On a podcast episode of Democracy Now, both Christian Parenti, news correspondent for The Nation, and William Guyton, President of the World Cocoa Foundation, were being interviewed about the Chocolate industry.

Apparently, 70% of the world’s chocolate comes from West Africa and 40% of the world’s chocolate comes from one country alone, Cote D’Ivoire; otherwise known as the Ivory Coast. Now the disturbing news is that the Ivory Coast uses child labor to help produce their chocolate raw materials and there are no child labor laws to stop this atrocity.

This was definitely an insightful panel regarding the ugly truth behind the chocolate industry and their rather pitiful attempts to try to color it up. Definitely check out the Democracy now episode and Parenti’s article on Fortune magazine that goes into more details about what goes on in West Africa.

Democracy Now: “Chocolate Bittersweet Economy”: Cocoa Industry Accused of Greed, Neglect for Labor Practices in Ivory Coast

Fortune Magazine: “Chocolate Bittersweet Economy: Seven years after the industry agreed to abolish child labor, little progress has been made” by Christian Parenti

On a plus note, there are companies that don’t exploit third-world countries to make chocolate. Joe Whinney, founder of Theo Chocolate, “which describes itself as the only roaster of organic cocoa beans and the first roaster of the Fair Trade certified cocoa beans in the United States.” He was also interviewed in Democracy Now and is listed under Oprah’s O magazine Best List. For more information on this wonderful Fair Trade company check out their site.

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One thought on “The truth about what goes behind the making of chocolate

  1. Thanks for posting on this subject.

    Like Joe Whinney I’m a co-owner of a small, organic Fair Trade chocolate (& coffee & tea) company (actually a worker co-op), and we’re working hard to raise awareness of the child labor issue and the lack of effort by the Industry to deal with it.

    Towards that end we’ve written this summary of the situation — http://www.equalexchange.coop/v-day-s-dark-side

    And we’re asking organizations and businesses (not individuals for now) to sign on to a Commitment to Ethical Cocoa Sourcing. See: http://www.equalexchange.com/reverse-sign-up/CommitmentToEthicalCocoaSourcing.pdf

    If civil society groups, and retailers, and others endorse this (60 have already) it will signal to industry that the public will not wait any longer for them to act, and are ready to take their commerce to more proactive, responsible chocolate & cocoa companies.

    To sign on contact tim.newman@ilrf.org

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