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Are You Eating Chocolate Made By Slaves?

Recently I stumbled upon the documentary "The Dark Side of Chocolate" by Miki Mistrati and U. Roberto Romano.(Click the link for the full documentary)

This documentary vividly brought the hidden secrets of the production of chocolate to light.


  • Did you know that 70% of the worlds coco beans come from Africa?  (The other 30% comes from Latin America)

  • 95% of chocolate companies use coco beans that were produced by slave trade, child trafficking or child labor (which is sometimes forced)
  • From 2008-2009 150 children were rescued from coco farms by Interpol

Empty Promises from Hershey, Nestle, M&M/Mars and Others

In 2001 eight of the world's biggest chocolate manufacturer's signed The Harkin Engel Protocol.  This was an agreement between Nestle Chocolate & Confections, M&M/Mars Inc, Hershey Food Corporation, Worlds Finest Chocolate, Guittard Chocolate Company, Archer Daniels Midland co (ADM), Blommer Chocolate Co. and Barry Callebaut.  The agreement stated that the chocolate manufacturers would no longer use chocolate made from coco bean farms that had slave labor or child labor.

Wow slave labor was going on in 2001?  That fact alone is astonishing.  I mean right now,  how does it make you feel to know how that Snickers that really satisfies you, was really made?  

'2009' Children Were Still Being Kidnapped For The Coco Farms

The Dark Side of Chocolate was a powerful documentary in many ways.  In 2009 Miki Mistrati set out for Africa to find out if the rumors that slave labor and child labor were still going on in the chocolate industry.   What he found was overwhelmingly heart breaking.  While in Ghana, on the Ivory Coast of Africa, Miki interviewed children who had been bought from their parents for about $20 U.S. dollars, to work 14 hours a day on a coco farm. Some of the children on the coco farm had actually been kidnapped from other parts of Africa.  These children longed to go home and return to normal life.  The children were being held on the coco farms against their will and were beaten if their work was not "up to par" or if they tried to runaway.

What's a Chocoholic To Do?

Now right here let me just let you in on a little bit of my personal truth.  I have personally had a love affair with chocolate FOR YEARS.  I even have gone so far as to call a Snickers a protein bar in order to eat it "guilt free".  So imagine my disgust at the chocolate industry after finding out that children were actually being kidnapped, smuggled and forced to work on coco farms. I couldn't believe American chocolate manufacturers were just o.k. with that.  I made a declaration:  "I will never eat chocolate again". Well I'm sure if you are a chocoholic than you probably already know just about how long that lasted.

I felt so guilty for not having the courage of my convictions, until I found out about Fair Trade Chocolate. So, What is Fair Trade?  It is trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries.  Since the documentary "The Dark Side of Chocolate" in 2009, Chocolate manufacturers have been forced to look at the labor practises of farms it buys it's coco from.  Currently only about 5% of  the world's chocolate is Fair Trade.  Nestle, Mars and Hershey have started to make improvements and do offer Fair Trade certification on a few of their candy bars.  Mars and Hershey have both agreed to make 100% of their chocolate Fair Trade by 2020. Nestle is currently dedicated to educating it's farmers and buying coco beans at a living wage.  


Video Courtesy of Equal Exchange

Purchase Chocolate With These Labels

Let's stand behind the courage of our convictions.  Let's show the big corporate chocolate manufacturers that it matters to us how our chocolate is produced.  If we stand together and purchase Fair Trade chocolate, I believe the chocolate manufacturers will honor their commitment to not use coco beans grown on farms that use slave labor and unsafe labor practises.

Here are some Fair Trade labels to look for when purchasing chocolate:

Products with these labels have agreed to buy coco beans from farmers who do not use slave labor and are environmentally responsible. 

Now where do you find these products if your not a person who frequents health food stores?  

Here's a few Fair Traded chocolate bars I have found (so far).

  • Dove Dark chocolate found at Walmart, most grocery stores and gas stations

  • Choceur & Moser Roth Ghana found at Aldi's
Now that I am consciously aware of how chocolate is made I will be on the lookout for these symbols and do a follow up post on where to find more Fair Trade chocolate.  Full list coming soon!


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