CHOCOLATE: Things You Should Know

chocolate - photo by Darwin Bell

It’s no secret that I love chocolate. I practically breathe the stuff or at least I would if given the chance. So if chocolate is that important to me, I aught to notice things like the whole Fair Trade issue. Sure I’ve read about it, but I apparently never bothered to READ about it because I never knew any of the following things until Jen @ Daily Mish Mash posted about it. Leave it to Jen to put it in words I can understand, right? Words like:

  • Two thirds of the world’s cocoa bean production comes from Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, etc.)
  • More than 109,000 children in Africa work in the cocoa industry.
  • As many as 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement.
  • Many of these children are lured into slavery by promises of living wages, only to be beaten, forced to work for no pay, and confined to prevent escape.
  • Others come from impoverished communities where they are removed from school because their help is needed on family farms.
  • Enslaved children typically work over 12 hours a day harvesting cocoa beans and have no idea what chocolate tastes like.

Why is this happening?

Cocoa farmers are not paid living wages for their crops. Companies such as Mars, Hershey’s, Nestle, and Cadbury purchase the cocoa cheap, take enormous profits, and sell it for less than its real market value around the world.

After reading that I started looking online to see where some of my other favorite chocolate indulgences come from. Lindt for instance gets the majority of their chocolate from Western Africa. i.e. Guilty, according to this handy dandy map of Africa:

Ghana, The Ivory Coast and Nigeria all hug the Western Border of Africa.

Godiva Chocolate claims to be made from high quality premium ingredients, but I’m not sure where exactly the ingredients like their cocoa beans come from since their website isn’t telling us, so far as I can find.

Now, I know that these chocolates aren’t MADE in Africa, but since Lindt gets their cocoa from Africa, who knows where Godiva gets it, am I right? I know though, that I’m not the smartest girl out there and I might be misunderstanding all of this, so I can tell this might be a long search.

I’ve emptied my cupboards of all the chocolate I own (frostings, cake mixes, candy bars, sprinkles, hot chocolate galore) and I’ll probably spend MM’s naptime googling, but the easiest solution in my mind (for my conscience) is to finish what I own and then try to only buy things which STATE that they were made with fair trade cocoa beans. I think shopping at Trader Joes should make that easy. Things like frosting and chocolate sauce, if I can’t buy fair trade, I will just buy chocolate bars, etc. and make my own. It’ll taste better anyway.

Point is, if I’m going to wreck my diet and indulge, I should ease at least half my guilt by making it fair trade. If you want a quick leg up on starting your fair trade chocolate diet, head over to Daily Mish Mash for more information and a chance to enter her giveaway for one Endangered Species Chocolate bar that is both fair trade and “donates 10% of their net profits to environmental organizations that work to help endangered species and their habitats.” All you have to do is leave a comment on her post.

Thanks Jen for kicking me into Do Gooder High Gear. While I was pulling all the chocolate out of my cupboards to research I also pulled out some canned goods and the like to donate to my local food pantry and organized the cupboards so I could take inventory of what I’ve got in preperation for my month long menu plan for November.

What are you feeling passionate about right now? How are you planning to make a difference and set an example for your brood? Will you be buying Fair Trade Chocolate for Halloween this weekend? Or forever?

5 thoughts on “CHOCOLATE: Things You Should Know

  1. Trader Joe’s semi sweet chocolate chips do not list it as being Fair Trade. The only hot cocoa they carry is fair trade organic (well, in Shrewsbury).
    Thank you for bringing this to my attention!

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  2. @ Jen : I’m going to check Trader Joes – they have a lot of fair trade chocolate, but I’m not sure about their baking chocolates, etc.

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  3. I think the hardest part is the baking. I try really hard not to buy snack chocolate unless it is marked fair trade, but I’ve had a harder time finding chocolate chips, baker’s chocolate, etc.. I guess I’m going to have to try harder.

    Thanks for passing the info along!

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