Chocolate – Worth its weight in Gold

by Christine Sine

This may be the most concerning news I have heard for a long time

Fancy a bit of chocolate? An afternoon Kit Kat with your cup of tea? A chunk of fruit and nut? Go on, you’ve earned it.  Except that in the future, chocoholics might have to work quite a bit harder to pay for their fix. The world could run out of affordable chocolate within 20 years as farmers abandon their crops in the global cocoa basket of West Africa, industry experts claim…. Read the entire article

My first reaction is to be amused by the news but then I start to think – what does it mean?  Part of what it means is that those who grow our chocolate don’t get paid enough to make it worthwhile.

Most of our chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast region of West Africa, where cocoa production is an enormous part of the economy. In Ghana, 40 percent of the country’s export revenues come from the sale of cocoa. Unfortunately, very little of the profit goes to the farmers who grow the cocoa beans. Cocoa farmers receive about a penny for a candy bar selling for 60 cents.

In fact, the difficulty in making a living at cocoa farming has spawned an increase in child and even slave labor drawn from poor neighboring countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo. Children and other workers are forced to work long days picking and processing cocoa beans (it takes 400 of these pods to make just one pound of chocolate). Very few of the children have the opportunity to attend school.

This is quite an issue in Europe where many countries have gone entirely fair trade chocolate.  But here in the U.S there is only one company – Theo chocolates that is fair trade bean-to-bar.  Of course there are many other fair trade chocolates available – like Divine chocolate which in my opinion really does live up to its name.  The New American Dream website has a great list of fair trade chocolate brands. – which suggests to me that fair traded chocolate should really be part of the new American dream.

So as you make your Christmas lists and reach for those stocking filling chocolates this year, remember those who produce it – at the least say a prayer, and if possible make sure that the chocolate you buy is fair trade certified.

 

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Christine Sine November 17, 2010 - 3:01 am

Brian that is so true. So often when we say something is expensive what we mean is that we are unwilling to curb our appetites in order to make life easier for others

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