If I were a talk show host, and giving away “a few of my favorite things” as is so popular with those ladies, chocolate would be one. HANDS DOWN. Rarely do you meet anyone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth and indulge it with some yummy milk or dark chocolate (some do this more often than others. I am one of THOSE.) And, be still my heart, when you add salt or caramel, or BOTH?!? I feel like I have surely had a taste of heaven on earth.
I have been sans chocolate for almost 3 weeks now. The first few days were rough, but it’s not so bad now. I don’t really even crave it that much any more. I will eat it again (and soon!), but I am going to take great pains to break up with traditional chocolatiers. And this is why: virtually every US chocolate manufacturer uses cocoa beans (the raw goods that make the yummy chocolate we eat) that have been harvested by children, indentured servants and others who are treated as slaves. But MAINLY CHILDREN. These kids are as young as 8 years old, carrying machetes that are almost as long as they are tall, around the Ivory Coast/Ghana areas of Africa where they climb trees (still holding machetes), cut limbs (with those machetes), and then they open the big pods USING THOSE MACHETES! In case you don’t get what I’m saying, THESE ARE CHILDREN WITH MACHETES!!
I could barely watch a BBC documentary called “Chocolate: The Bitter Truth” If you want to ruin your taste for run of the mill chocolate like Nestle and Hershey’s, you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/lua2wB0qr6I But I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be reaching for that Kit Kat without thinking twice. And don’t even get me started on the glut of this junk we’ll see in a couple of weeks for Halloween. This is an $80 BILLION A YEAR industry. And did I mention that these kids that gather the cocoa beans DO NOT GET PAID?? Yeah, I guess that’s what happens when you are trafficked from your home, your family and sent out to work long, hard hours right near the hottest place in the world, aka the equator.
Okay, okay… enough of my soap box for now. My mission is to tell you that there are measures in place to help ensure you are eating chocolate that is child labor free! Thank God! Life just wouldn’t feel worth living without a little chocolate, right? That BBC documentary does find a little issue with fair trade chocolate. They find that some of the farmers were using child labor, which could be okay if they are also getting to go to school. Which isn’t usually the case. However, the Fair Trade certifying board did take measures to punish those farmers by suspending purchasing from them as long as they are using children to harvest cocoa beans. Nothing in this world is perfect, but at least there’s a start.
Here is an awesome source for places you can buy fair trade chocolate. Also? Organic Chocolate has pretty stringent tracking in place and you can be pretty sure it’s child labor free as well. And, another one to be on the lookout for is “Equal Exchange” chocolate, which should be fairly traded and in compliance with labor laws.
So there you go… now in the words of my husband’s late Italian great-grandmother “MANGIA E FATTI GROSSI!” (eat and get fat!)