By Sandy Wynne
The bulk of the world’s chocolate is made from cacao grown in West Africa, specifically from 2 countries – Ivory Coast and Ghana. Child labor, child slave labor and forced labor are rampant on cacao plantations.
The UN estimates that approximately 200,000 children are trafficked annually to this part of the world. This is the bitter side of our sweet chocolate delights.
Please consider buying and consuming only Fair Trade chocolate which must be produced without child or forced labor. We guarantee you your chocolate will taste much better. Here are some suggestions which are easily purchased in our local Vermont stores as well as online (where you can often get more product variety). All are certified by either Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair USA) or Fair for Life and display a certification logo on the appropriate product.
1. Divine Chocolate – all their chocolate is certified Fair Trade (the folks who pick this chocolate are members of a cooperative that is a partial owner of Divine – an interesting business model)
2. Equal Exchange – all their products, including chocolate, are Fair Trade.
3. Theo Chocolates
4. Dagoba (only the bar made from Conacado – a Fair Trade Cooperative in the Dominican Republic)
5. Green & Black’s – just one bar, Maya Gold, is Fair Trade
6. Lake Champlain – just one of their hot chocolate products and one unsweetened cocoa product are Fair Trade
7. Sweet Earth Chocolates
8. Alter Eco – all their products, including chocolate, are Fair Trade.
If we all demand that our chocolate is guaranteed free of child labor, we can change the lives of millions of people and still enjoy exceptional chocolate products. Retailers will respond to our demands. The Kit Kat bar in the UK is made from Fair Trade Chocolate because UK customers demanded it. Kit Kat bars in the US are not made from Fair Trade chocolate. We can do better.
Look for these labels: