Chocolate is one of life's greatest pleasures, but for the children working in slavery conditions in cacao fields across West Africa's Ivory Coast, the reality behind it is anything but sweet.
Some 70 to 75 percent of the world's cocoa beans are grown on small farms in West Africa, including the Ivory Coast, according to the World Cocoa Foundation and the International Cocoa Initiative. The CNN Freedom Project reports that in the Ivory Coast alone, there are an estimated 200,000 children working the fields, many against their will, to satisfy the world's hunger for chocolate.
The average American eats around 11 pounds of chocolate each year, and the weeks leading up to Easter show the second biggest United States sales spike of the year next to Halloween - 71 million pounds according to a 2009 Neilsen report. A recent press release from Kraft claims that worldwide, more consumers purchase chocolate during Easter than any other season.
So how does a chocolate lover ensure that the treats filling their family's Easter baskets are not supporting a life of slavery for a child half a world away?
Opt for organic
Gene Tanski, a supply chain expert and CEO of Demand Foresight says that the most basic way to ensure that you don't purchase chocolate that is made with slave labor is to insist on organic.
"There are no organic growing techniques, capability, or much interest in West Africa or the Ivory Coast or Ghana. Most of the trees there were planted about 25 years ago and they're on the downside of their productive life," Tanski says.
"If you're buying organic chocolate or cocoa you're nearly ensured that there is no slave labor involved in the growing or production of that chocolate, and you can track the chain."
Consider the origin
Tanski says to pay attention to where the chocolate is grown and produced. Because of measures like the Harkin-Engel Protocol or "Cocoa Protocol" which was enacted in 2001 to enlist companies to voluntarily certify they had stopped the practice of child labor, as well as some of the components of free trade, consumers are starting to be able to track where cocoa comes from.
"If it comes from Africa, there is most likely slave labor involved. If it comes from South America or Asia, chances are that there is not. That's not to say there aren't poor conditions, but it's not the slave labor that's highlighted in the CNN report. The tracking is getting better and better all the time," he adds.
Look at the label
"You should be looking for chocolate that's a bargain for you, that's delicious for you, and that's good news for people who took part in the production," Stop the Traffik founder Steve Chalke tells CNN's Richard Quest. He says to look for a Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance symbol on the packaging, because it shows that there was no slavery involved in the production of the bar.
Later this year, chocolate consumers will be able to purchase a new version of Hershey's Bliss brand, which will be 100 percent made from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms mostly in Ivory Coast and Ghana, according to a press release from the company.
"It'll still make you fat," Chalke jokes, "But you'll be ethically fat."
Go straight to the source
Kristen Hard, the owner of Cacao Atlanta, puts her money where her customers' mouths are and travels to farms in places like Brazil and Venezuela to deal directly with the growers. For her, it's a matter of quality control - both for her product and the lives of her producers.
"Whatever you're purchasing is funding something; it's a choice that you're making every day," she says. "Buying fair trade can benefit the environment and the social status of the farmers. Or, you can do the opposite and promote child labor."
While Hard believes that fair trade is better than the commodity system, with the recent rise in small-scale chocolate production, direct trade is a better solution, and pays off for customers in the form of a better product. She says, "We purchase beans from farmers at a much higher price than commodity, so they can value what they do, stay happy, and not just put food on the table. What we negotiate is quality and a schedule, and all of the things that should be important to a consumer."
Develop a taste
Hard knows that people form a passionate bond with the flavor of chocolate early in life, and it's most often the inexpensive and widely available kind. Still, she believes, people will be willing to pay more once they taste the difference.
"Once they taste the quality product, they'll understand," she says. "A lot of times when people are farming a commodity, they'll cut corners because they want to make their money faster and it can can destroy the flavor. But, if this more premium chocolate is not what you're used to, the initial reaction can be, 'Oh, I don't like that.' It's like having fresh juice rather than sugar water. Whatever you grew up with programmed to like, your body is going to say, that's unfamiliar; I don't like it. Once you try it, you'll wonder where it's been your whole life."
More resources for buying ethically produced chocolate
Stop the Traffik
Slave Free Chocolate
Fair Trade Finder App
The CNN Freedom Project sent correspondent David McKenzie into the heart of the Ivory Coast – the world’s largest cocoa producer – to investigate what's happening to children working in the fields. Watch an excerpt of "Chocolate's Child Slaves" and see all Freedom Project coverage on the topic.
Once you've gotten the goods, try these delicious recipes from iReport's Fair Trade Chocolate Challenge
Watch CNN Newsroom weekdays 9am to 3pm ET and weekends. For the latest from the CNN Newsroom click here.
I feel like this is an ad for Hershey's Bliss. I buy Dove Promises and they already buy cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. The article makes no mention of this. Yes there are many brands out there and they couldn't mention all of them, but I was surprised that Dove Promises, a direct competitor to Hershey's Bliss is not mentioned. Mars is one of the largest chocolate brands out there.
Soylent Chocolate – It's people....PEOPLE !!!
How about we stop buying oil from countries that stone women to death for showing too much elbow? Oh wait too much money involved and CNN does not want to upset the corporate sponsors.
buying oil from people who "stone their women" and also don't "force their women to work while giving birth to babies at the same time" is a good idea. because they use that money to buy back from us all those weapons of mass destruction that we manufacture here in America. So the money comes right back to us!!
Made in china after processed in Africa
- harvested by child labor in africa
– processed by low-wage labor in china
– sold by non-union min wage labor at walmarts
– enjoyed by high wage non-value adding pariahs (bankers, politicos etc) in america
Childrens tears makes chocolate taste sweeter. Thats why stolen Haloween candy is the sweetest.
If it wasn't morally reprehensible, I'd suggest that we track down all the people who say "Meh...enslaved children in Africa are no my concern, I'm American lol" and force them to live under slavery for a year. Enjoy being beaten, raped, and possibly killed. That's probably what it would take to teach you spoiled morons some empathy.
Masha, do you know I find to be morally reprehensible? The idea that if I buy an organic candy bar, then suddenly the lives of millions of child slaves will be that much better. Really? And how about the idea that if we all wear hoodies, then Trayvon Martin will be honored somehow. What disgusts me is that we distill serious issues into empty, nonsense statements and then adopt a smug attitude and pretend we're actually making a difference. Masha, you're a poser, just like most of the other people in the world. But it's disgusting when you pretend otherwise.
Maybe it's just enough that you think about not buying chocolate made by slaves once in a while. Seriously, this is hardly a left/right concept. Why is it that every time something comes up that involves utilizing a conscience, people talk about it like they're being forced to join an army?
What's wong hollywood? Someone drink your last Natty lite?
Hollywood, learn to read. See what she really meant when she said "morally reprehensible"? Geez, she was talking about enslaving morons like you for a year to show you what's it like being a slave.
I wonder if they ever really think about what they are doing. These people have found a way to make a living in a poor country. So now they want to take away the little bit of money they get, now that's real compassion for you. Meanwhile they sit back in their New York Penthouses munching away at organic chocolates which are probably made the same way.
But it's the human misery that makes the chocolate sweeter!
What is wrong with you ppl? It's that self-satisfied, callous attitude that makes the rest of the world look at us and shake their heads in disgust. 'Who cares about the poor slave kids as long as I get MY goodies, but then I'll throw it up and run around the block a hundred times 'cuz it's-OMG!!!-it's 100 CALORIES!!! And I don't want to get FAAAAT!!!' Sick, superficial idiots!
This how the 1% liberal rich spend their time and money and then pat each other on the back for caring more than other people.
They are never the ones that go to these places and get their hands dirty.
Hey, Kala, hate to break it to you but the 1% are not liberal. Liberals give away all of their money in taxes. The 1% are conservatives through-and-through. How else would they have become so successful?
By earning the money and not relying on the government for money
Someone with the name "hollywood" in the screen name is really stupid enough to think all 1%ers are conservatives?
Here's the problem Kala; chocolate is not a necessity. Maybe they are patting themselves on the back, or whatever, but the fact is you don't actually need to eat chocolate, so using that as an excuse to have slaves making it for you......is no excuse at all
Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, John Corzine, the Kennedys, Michael Moore, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, George Soros, and 75% of all actors/actresses are liberal.
Saying the 1% are conservative/right-wing is willfully ignorant.
What about the slave-like treatment of the cows whose milk is used to make chocolate?
Oh, for Pete's sake. This is one of the stupidest things I've heard of in several days. This article just gives me another excuse to never buy anything WITH an organic label on it.
Yeah, pff, child slavery, what kind of stupid thing is THAT to talk about? And suggesting that people maybe think before they buy? Yeah, whatever Moonbats!
Self destruction for the sake of spite is the pinnacle of humanity.
Maybe a blood diamond for our anniversary this year as well.
LOL, look at the results... In a heartbeat 81.56%... what a BS.... this is the same people who made WalMart the #1 company in US... you people buy cheap Chinese crap rather than paying a little more to save American economy. Talk is cheap I guess.
There's a whole lotta things that you CAN'T buy any other place than from China.
Spoken like a true Union member.
I'll buy what I please from where I please, unless the government is stupid enough to ban it
which they tend to like doing
I just read this story and I've decided I don't give a flying F K. I will eat chocolate and use west african teams on Fifa12 while I eat it.How do you like them apples ? I would like them apples if they were dipped in chocolate.MMMMMM MMMM b!tc h.
Jesus! Not a single listing of what chocolate to buy that is slave free? Uhmm. I guess I'll have to stick with Hershey's since it wasn't mentioned that they used cocoa slaves. *shrugs* Great article, not.
They provided links, one of which has a list of companies that don't use slave labor, and Hersey's isn't on it.
Hershey's is a US based company they dont use slave labor ( its like illegal since the 13th amendment)
Yes, buy organic.Please give us $12 for an organic orange.It makes sense.Do It!!!!!
Did you know that every black person on earth is a victim and every white person on earth gets free cars,homes,money,and women feeding them grapes ? Yep.It's true.
Oh good grief, what are we supposed to worry about next? I make little enough as is. I will NEVER buy anything organic.
you don't need to eat chocolate....its not its one of the four basic food groups
It gives these kids jobs--otherwise they might starve. I was a PCV in Africa and know what I'm talking about.
Thank You... No one complains when child stars are acting?
Don't care. I mean genuinely feel-nothing don't care about this. No guilt, no remote interst in paying more. It's called the free market. Someone always has to be higher up the ladder, it's a waste of energy to foolishly assume otherwise. (Don't fight the one percent, work to join them – it will pay better in the end)
Do you buy stolen goods, too? They should be cheap.
I salute this fine attempt at trolling.
Maybe when they are done race baiting in Florida, both Reverend Al and Reverend Jesse will go bring "justice" to West Africa too. Hey Al, bring back a few Snickers Bars for me while you're at it....
CNN is the Colored News Network.They're also known as Crimes against caucasians Never News.
How is this article against caucasians? I don't get it.
Chocolate gives me the giggles and makes me attack my kitchen faucet with my mouth.I try to stay away from it.
Slave it up cuz I love my chocolate !!!!! It's funny cuz I could care less if little kids or Oomp-loompas make my candy... Have a nice day BCNN.... the B stands for Black cuz CNN is now Pro Jesse Jackson.... Hate Crime that CNN
Hey, the world is a sucky place for a lot of people. Sucks to be non-American. Oh well, too bad. Mmmmm....chocolate.
Maybe Obama can steal more of my paycheck to save the "chocolate slaves". Gosh I hope there aren't any "Pizza Slaves" out there in some god foresaken Third World country. Do slaves pick pizza too?
lets bring these jobs back to america!
I like this one!
I am not sure if I love the taste of cheap chocolate or the slave labor that is involved in making it.
I promise to never eat chocolate ever again if CNN agrees to admit they're an anti white news network who scours the country for black victim stories. They also must agree that they couldn't find a white on black story today so they decided to report on west Africa.Agreed ?
As a child I have seen child labors around where I grew up in Asia. If they won't work the family would go hungry. I would so same if my family was poor because I love my family. I agree forced labor is wrong.
Sad truth? Slavery and Prostitution have both existed since the dawn of mankind. I don't own any slaves, I don't use prostitutes, but I doubt there is a part of my life in this consumer lifestyle that does not enable slavery. It ain't going away by making a switch in chocolate either. You can buy a person for $2k in Bangladesh. Probably less in Africa. You can buy slaves in America today. You know which people are the biggest slave owners today? Africans. That is the truth too
Define slavery. Then we'll talk about price.
But I thought it was their tears that made the chocolate sweet and delicious?
agreed. If you are pinching pennies to buy a bunch of crap, why not spend the same amount on good, fresh, organic. This is something I've been doing for the past year. Before, my grocery bill was about $100 for me. I was buying store brand, processed, etc. I now spend the same amount on fresh, organic and local foods and I'm certainly not starving and I'm much healthier. It's completely possible and all you need is to change your grocery list (and maybe your portion size from 'traditional American' [large] to normal [the size of your hand]) Like I said, I'm spending the same amount of money.
maybe it like everything else will be a race thing. maybe gay black people can harvest it. cant i even enjoy a friggin candy bar now!
As much as I would like to see this problem end, boycotting them won't fix this. Don't you think the local authorities should be the ones to stop this in their own back yard? It's simple. Knowing right from wrong is a universal language. Either Africa fixes their problem or this country should halt the import of all foreign products. It's all counterfeit or slave made anyway and we all know it.
I think America should focus on supporting Israel in attacking Iran, not helping the children in slavery.
Why would I want fair trade Chocolate for Easter? It is a religious holiday and slavery is condoned in the Bible.
Fair Trade chocolate, or other foods, are so well known, I don't see that this article really provides that much news. Overall, best to buy Fair Trade products. If it's more expensive, simply eat a bit less (that too has health benefits).
Great idea! I'll buy my sweetheart some slave labor free chocolate, plus a slave labor free IPhone, or better yet, some slave labor free chocolate made in China from slave labor free cocoa. I'll sleep so much better tonight.
I FOR ONE AM SO SICK OF THE NEWS MEDIA FINDING A WAY TO DRAG RACISM, SLAVERY AND EVERYTHING ELSE INTO EVERY STINKING SUBJECT THAT COMES UP.
The media didn't drag those children into slavery. I, for one, am glad to be made aware of the situation.
How about people getting A$$ Raped? Where are we on that?
Yeah oh the outrage of exposing the effects of unlimited capitalistic greed. Really folks you expect dictators in Africa to get these rights issues done correctly when we cant even get healthcare reform for everyone in this country without the far right going apesh1t about it
You think people not getting free health care should be a HIGHER priority than ending slavery?
How much did the "Fair Trade" companies pay CNN to run this and/or how much influence did they have over this article? Life is hard and you can't always apply US standards to overseas labor. What is worse- a crummy job, or no job at all if the employer can't afford to hire more workers because of over-regulation and US paternalism?
This is such horribly wrong thinking! Talk about rich white privilege. If those children don't have a crop to pick, slave or not, they will starve. Boycotting the crop that helps them survive only means they'll be forced to find some other way to put food in their mouths. While you all debate about going to your corner confectioner so you won't be denied your favorite sweet, these kids just need to eat.
That's exactly what I was thinking. Better to make chocolate than be prostitutes. But, I certainly can't speak to the children. Sad situation regardless.
What, it is ok for them to be used as slaves as long as they are being fed? How can that be?
Don't be naive. The children involved in these processes are often desperate for a job and will do anything they can to provide for themselves and their families. It may be wrong, but not buying the chocolate made from the beans these kids pick won't change a thing. The worst part is that everyone knows that, but they still continue to whine about the poor slave children. It's like Bono complaining about aids in Africa and then going for a swim in his vast hoard of money. Boycotting easter candy will only make you feel better about yourself and hypocrisy will only get you so far.
The slave children don't get paid a thing. Boycotting slave chocolate and chocolate that isn't certified slave-free certainly will impact the industry if enough do it. It has helped in the sugar industry although there is still a long way to go there. Doing nothing, that is what doesn't help.
In other countries, these families are supported by all members of their familiy working and have been doing so for centuries. What we believe to be horrible working standards and conditions, other places may value that extra money and responsibility their family has taken on. Many of these "slave camps" actually conduct school during working hours and the children work side by side with their family. We as Americans are spoiled rotten. I don't necessarily support this kind of working atmosphere, but who are we to tell them how to run their lives? I see plenty of children in the liquor stores with their parents, kids wandering around stores while their parents work, and kids helping their parents in fields at your local farmers market.
You're not getting the point. They aren't talking about kids working to support their families. Not working for little wages, etc. They are sold to these people and work for nothing their entire lives until the farmers essentially work them to death. The next time you are biting into that cheap chocolate (which is not a real food, and we don't need it anyway) picture a small child, about 6 yrs old working 16 hrs a day picking those beans for you. If you can still eat the chocolate, go ahead, you have no heart anyway.
The story is about abject poverty and the use of child labor in West Africa. Nothing is forcing the child to stay and work except fear of starvation. Horrible yes, but not slavery. The proper solution isn't to refuse to buy their chocolate (putting these people out of business means unemployment and possible starvation for the laborers) its to find a way to make these economically backwards nations more prosperous. The writers of this article should be excoriated for their use such loaded terminology, abject poverty is a moral evil, but it was not caused by the owners of this plantation, they do not have the right to keep these laborers against their will nor harm their person. Go back to journalism school.
No, these children are in actual slavery. I think you might read more about it .
I pay for the good stuff from a local chocolate maker. She makes this dark chocolate with pieces of candied ginger and pistacchios in it that's blow your mind good. It's expensive but it's a treat, and I don't eat garbage like Hershey's. That's for little kids.
Wow! You a clearly a very special man. Thank you for sharing that with us.
Oh, shut up.
Haha you trolls are dripping with jealousy!
We really need prostitutes that are certified slavery free. Not only are they slaves, they are being raped. Sounds a bit more important than certifying a commodity product.
Their misery makes the chocolate taste that much sweeter. If anything, I'd pay more for cocoa that was harvested exclusively using slave labor.
It's great being a white, middle-class male living in the USA. Luxuries abound.
I had a suspicion I'd find a post like this down here.
Spoken like a true overprivileged, cracker.
Thank God you are not president, and your opinion doesnt matter. Dont think for a second you will always be in that position. I seen people like you fall way way down because of your attitude. KARMA!!!!
Ain't you just wonderful – you are ignorant!!!
My sympathies that you're only middle class. But, on the bright side, you are a sad, miserable person.
i'm sure you can all see the sarcasm dripping from his comment...dont be so quick to judge people.
"it will either be chocolate of dubious or unknown origin or none at all." Seems like it shouldn't even be a choice to me.
I honestly would pay a *bit* more to ensure it was slavery-free, but the problem is that in today's economy, with everyone pinching pennies, it's not always possible to spend the extra amount. My grocery bill has gone up by over 50% since last year this time, and I'm buying the same items as before or even going for the cheaper store-brand or generic options in a lot of cases. I'd love to be able to buy all organic veggies and fruits, meat raised on small organic and natural farms, and ethically-responsible food items, but financially we just can't. I do have a small garden and try to grow as much produce as possible, but it's very dependent on weather, which in our area isn't always cooperative (my 6 tomato plants yielded almost nothing last summer, etc.). If producers of items like chocolate can figure out how to bring the cost of their slavery-free chocolate within reach of the lower-middle-class consumer, I'll buy it. If not, sadly, it will either be chocolate of dubious or unknown origin or none at all.
dragonwife, I hear ya. My grocery bill has sky rocketed. What used to be a $100 / week is now more like $150. My grocery store used to sell a large bunch of parsley for $.99, and now it's $1.79. I hope something changes soon or I'm never going to be able to retire.
I also had the same problem with my tomatoes last summer. The ones that I did have didn't even ripen until mid September.
dragonwife, if you're that concerned about saving a few pennies here and there, then you should not be buying chocolate in the first place. It's called a LUXURY. And seriously, an organic bar is just a buck or two more than a Hershey bar. If you're eating any more chocolate than that per week, then you can't be that financially hard up in the first place. Buy slave-free and send a message to chocolate growers. Maybe they can rethink their business practices, so that children aren't slaving away just so you can have your little treat.
forcor, I am concerned about saving pennies, which is why chocolate, like other things formerly in my shopping cart, HAS become a rare luxury (I think my last chocolate bar, like my last bag of chips and other nonessentials, was at least 6 months ago). In my first sentence I stated that I'd be willing to spend a little more, but that "just a buck or two more" you mentioned is a large amount in comparison to what I'd get, and could buy an extra loaf of bread or gallon of milk. It's not just chocolate, either – it's the whole problem of buying groceries that are healthy, organic, produced by workers who are paid a fair wage, etc. I try to buy local and responsibly, but it's not always possible given financial constraints and the difficulty of determining which products really are the best in those respects. When I do have a little extra to buy my "little treat" as you so snidely called it, I do try to find the Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance notice. Instead of slapping down those of us who have to deal with the reality of a budget stretched to the limit, why not ponder that maybe we're doing the best we can under the circumstances. And by the way – are you absolutely sure that all your clothing isn't made in sweatshops, that all your electronics aren't produced by workers in unsafe conditions, all your cleaning products aren't tested on animals, and so on? If not, don't begrudge me my rare noncompliant chocolate bar.
Just to answer dragonwife1's questions... Most of my clothes are bought second hand, because I am poor too. (I routinely make less than $20K a year. My wife, even less. And we DON'T take any government handouts, thank you!) Things like underwear, which I buy new, I buy from American Apparel and other American-made, sweatshop-free firms. (Slowly moving away from Chinese-made shoes and into Italian-made shoes, one pair at a time. More expensive, but worth it in the long run.) And I definitely make sure all my cleaning products, shampoos, etc. are not tested on animals. (I'm married to a vegan, it comes with the territory!) In terms of electronics, unfortunately there appears to be no choice to buy hardware that is not made in Chinese or Southeast Asian factories. But there are lots of options for slave-free chocolate, no matter how much money you have. Which is the whole point of this article. It's gloomy to see so many people bending over backwards to defend child slavery to make luxuries (diamonds and gold included – and yep, our wedding rings are slavery-free too). But then, this is the Internet. Trolls abound. Plop any of these dumb anonymous "I don't care about some African slave boy!" yahoos in the Ivory Coast, show them what really goes on in these places, and watch their fat faces go silent.
Why don't you stick to things that are your business and SHUT THE F*** UP about those that aren't? In case you're wondering, how other people spend their money is one of the latter!
Isn't that what this entire thread is about? Chocolate IS a luxury, but us spoiled Americans (I am one) want everything. We're a society of fat, consuming, spoiled brats where even the poor people have cable TV, electricity, and at least one car. And beer and cigarettes.
Poor us! If how to buy chocolate is a concern to us then I'd say we've ALL got it pretty good compared to most other regions in the world.
Here's a wild idea: If you cannot sped the extra cents on slavery-free, murder-free, rape-free chocolate, then don't buy chocolate. You won't die. I promise. Yes, we're pinching our pennies. Some of us are pinching them more than others. Those of us who are *truly* struggling with the economy know that we occasionally have to sacrifice some luxuries. "This is all I can afford" is a bad excuse when your actions cost people their lives. Just don't buy it.
Hey guess what? I don't give a crap about some african slave boy. Life's tough. Not my problem.
You A-hole, hope they come for you in the middle of the night and put you on that job detail-you slave!
Glad there are people like you.
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