Before they could sell all the left over Christmas décor, stores already had their Valentine’s Day candy displays in place. It’s time for pink, hearts, and teddy bears once again. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I want to highlight Fair Trade chocolate. I want to talk about slave free or not so slave free chocolate.
If you’re a chocolate lover like me, you’ve probably been aiding in the oppression of hundreds of thousands of children for years. Please take a second to read that last sentence again. I hope it hits you like a ton of bricks. There are literally thousands upon thousands of children living in slavery right now while you break off a piece of that Kit Kat bar. These same children live in unthinkable, inhumane conditions and they’ve probably worked more hours in their 14 years of life than most American adults. I’m here to say that it’s NOT okay!
We can make excuses for ourselves all day long but in the end we are the ones responsible for our purchases. We each have a voice and we have the choice to use our voice to help those in bondage. Not For Sale, a leading organization in the fight against human trafficking, has a smartphone application called FREE2WORK. Free2Work looks at what companies are doing to prevent modern-day slavery among their supply chains. When evaluating brands, Free2Work looks at different levels of production where abuse may occur: raw materials, inputs, and final-stage manufacturing. It looks at the prevalence of child and forced labor among companies. It gives each company a letter grade from A-F in four different categories: policies, transparency, monitoring, and worker rights. It then gives an overall grade.
Hershey’s, whom I think we’ve all heard of and tasted, was given an overall D+. If the grading system still works like I think it does, a D+ is not very good. Hershey’s makes a few products you may have heard of: Almond Joy, Mounds, Kit Kat, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Whoppers, York Peppermint Pattie, Cadbury Chocolate and many more. Nestle received a D. Dove, Mars, Godiva, and Russell Stover all received a D-. That means Twix, M&M’s, Snickers, and 3 Musketeers most likely get their chocolatey goodness from chocolate made by cocoa beans that were held by the hands of small child slaves.
I don’t write this blog to make anyone feel guilty. Yes, I hope we are convicted to make better choices with our purchases but guilt is not my goal. My goal is for us to become aware and use our voices to end slavery.
So should we give up chocolate altogether? Of course not! There are many Fair Trade, organic, and Slave Free chocolate companies out there that need your support. Are they as cheap as Hershey’s? Maybe not. Are they as easily assessable? Probably not but it’s worth it. Do you care more about saving a few dollars or a child’s life? Fair Trade is growing at a wonderful rate and because of this buying Fair Trade is not as hard as we may think. Publix and Whole Foods Market, just to name a couple, carry many Fair Trade chocolate products.
When you buy chocolate for the one’s you love this Valentine’s Day, I urge you from the depths of my heart, to think about the lives you are affecting with your purchases. I urge you to affect those lives in a positive way and buy Fair Trade, organic, and Slave Free chocolate this Valentine’s Day.
Here is a short list of reputable slave free chocolate companies:
(I encourage you to continue doing your own research)
Sweet Earth Chocolate
Alter Eco (available at Whole Foods)
Green & Blacks (available at Publix and Whole Foods)
Dagoba Organic Chocolate (available at Publix)
Endangered Species (available at Publix)
CNN Presents Chocolate’s Child Slaves
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