Now I LOVE chocolate. Yep, so much so that it is written in capitals and in bold, just for that kind of emphasis. Whether it’s Cadburys, Green and Blacks or Galaxy I’m not bothered quite frankly as it is all good. In the evenings I love being snuggled up on the sofa with a glass of wine and some chocolate, bliss.
Yet, something has happened to make me seriously rethink this chocolate addiction becoming a member of an ACT group for the charity Stop the Traffik and learning about where so much of our chocolate comes from. In all seriousness it’s just not on that I get to enjoy cheap chocolate that rips off the people who grow the cocoa. Not only that, but the chocolate that I crave could have been made from cocoa harvested by trafficked children. Kind of takes the shine off the whole thing doesn’t it really?
Here’s what Stop the Traffik are saying..
Over a third of the cocoa that makes the world’s chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast, Africa. It’s highly likely that the beans that make your favourite chocolate bar come from here.
Cocoa harvesting is backbreaking and hazardous work. The harvesters have to go into the bush to access the cocoa trees that grow the precious cocoa pods. Wielding dangerous machetes, they cut down the pods and crack them open. The cocoa beans are then extracted, dried and bagged for sale. The shocking reality is that much of this work is done by children.
Despite improvements in the chocolate industry, human trafficking remains an ongoing and deep seated problem. Due to the hidden and illegal nature of human trafficking, gathering statistics on the scale of the problem is difficult. Estimates of child labour on cocoa farms in the Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana from organisation such as the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), UNICEF and Tulan University vary from 300,000 to 1 million from 2007-2013 . We know that a portion of these children have been trafficked.
Whatever ever the exact figure, this is far too many!
Thousands of boys as young as 10 yrs old, from the Cote D’Ivoire and neighbouring countries, are trafficked to pick and harvest these beans. Their freedom is taken and they are forced to work long hours on the cocoa plantations without receiving any money for their work. They are beaten and work in dangerous conditions.
CNN reported in January 2012 that Chocolate’s billion-dollar industry starts with workers like Abdul. He squats with a gang of a dozen harvesters on an Ivory Coast farm. Abdul holds the yellow cocoa pod lengthwise and gives it two quick cracks, snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He dumps the beans on a growing pile. He told CNN he didn’t get paid for the work but just got a pile of food, an occasional tip from the owner and the torn clothes on his back.
Abdul is 10 years old, a three-year veteran of the job. He has never tasted chocolate! 
So shocking isn’t it? It’s hard to believe that this kind of think happens today, and that it is something that we are complicit in without even being aware.
Since working with Stop the Traffik I’ve tried, and often failed, to be more mindful when purchasing chocolate making sure I keep an eye out for the Fair Trade logo as Stop The Traffik suggest. Now my 6 year old is an eagle eye for the Fair Trade logo after learning all about it at school and she will often inform anyone that’ll listen about the importance of the farmers getting paid properly (proud mummy moment!).
So anyway, I thought over this Lent period I could give up all non-Fair Trade chocolate, just to see what it would be like, of course that would mean no Mini Eggs or Creme Eggs, but apart from that it’s fairly do-able right?
I’d totally forgotten about little things like, chocolate biscuits for the girls lunch boxes, the chocolate pieces in the brioche that E goes crazy for not to mention chocolate topped donuts. Chocolate is everywhere, people, everywhere and in everything! I didn’t take this into account at all and never really though about the kind of chocolate used in food or where it’s come from, I’d only really thought about the chocolate bars.
And to add insult to injury..
On the first day of the challenge guess what my husband brings home?
I stood strong, even while he ate both of them in front of me (grounds for divorce..?).
A good tip for finding Fair Trade chocolate that’s stocked in corner shops and supermarkets is looking for Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bars and buttons and Malteasers. They have helped me along in this and this weekend I’m going to treat myself to some Green and Blacks! We’ve also been making our own chocolate chip cookies using fair trade dark chocolate from Aldi.
In all seriousness me giving up chocolate and food with chocolate in isn’t going to change much and it’s not much of a hardship, I know that, but really I’m doing it to help me think through what I buy and also to open up conversations with people who might not be aware of child trafficking and our role in it.
I’m going to be writing a couple more posts on how I’m getting on, including looking into Easter eggs and showing how few are Fair Trade. I’ll be sure to I point out the ones that are and where you can get them. In the meantime if this is something you’re interested in and you’ve seen that your local supermarket has few, if any, Fair Trade eggs on their shelves then you can click here for a flyer that you can hand in to the supermarket and you can also find out more info on Stop the Traffik’s Easter campaigns.
What do you think?
Were you aware of child trafficking?
Does it impact on your decisions when it comes to buying chocolate or other food items?
 Statistic from here
 Content from here