With the Easter holiday right around the corner, chocolate seems to be miraculously appearing in droves on shelves in all our favorite stores. But there is a surprising thing attached to most of the chocolate sold in this country: slavery. While slavery was legally abolished in the US during the time of President Lincoln, slavery still happens all over the world to this day. One of the most abhorrent instances is child slavery- particularly, that which occurs in the chocolate industry. Most of the chocolate that the world consumes comes from west Africa. Cocoa is a commodity export here, and most everyone used to harvest the cocoa pods are children. These children are either stolen from their parents, given to the farms to work under the illusion that the children will be paid, or are sold by their families into the trade. But unfortunately, these children never receive wages and worse are worked in inhumane conditions. They work from sunrise well into the evening, the sweltering conditions of Africa boiling down on them. They carry machetes to chop the large pods from the trees, and are beaten if they work too slowly. Children as young as seven have been documented working on these farms, wielding scars on their bodies from the misuse of the dangerous tools they are given or from the harm they have endured.
What can you do to help? Some chocolate is produced in Latin America, where child slavery has not been documented and is unlikely to even be occurring. The Food Empowerment Project, a vegan food justice group out of California, is spearheading a program of transparency among chocolate-selling companies. While their list only compiles companies that offer vegan chocolate products (though offers that major chocolate companies “are still culpable”) they provide a wonderful resource to access the next time you go to purchase a chocolate bar or while picking up goodies for Easter baskets.
Some of my personal favorites that FEP supports are Alter Eco, Endangered Species, Equal Exchange, Justin’s Nut Butters, Navitas, Newman’s Own, Obsessive Confection Disorder, Theo, and Turtle Mountain/So Delicious.
Please visit the links below to read more about chocolate slavery, to see the recommended chocolate list, and to support FEP’s attempt to petition transparency from Clif Bar on their chocolate source.
Read more here: http://foodispower.org/slavery_chocolate.php
Get the list here: http://www.foodispower.org/chocolatelist.php
Sign and help here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/229/288/148/
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