The Not-So-Sweet Truth Behind Halloween Candy
Trick or Treat! Give me something good to eat! Chocolate is a staple for many American holidays: Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Christmas. The average American consumes 11.7 pounds of chocolate per year.. that’s a lot of chocolate!! Ever wonder where all this chocolate comes from?
The base ingredient of chocolate is cocoa; cocoa trees are grown on small farms within 15-20 degrees of the Equator. 70-75 percent of cocoa beans are grown on small farms in Africa, mostly in the country of Ivory Coast. Recently, the cocoa industry has been the focus of modern slavery. According to UNICEF nearly 500,000 children work on cocoa farms across Ivory Coast. The agency also reports that many children are trafficked across African borders and engage in the worst forms of child slavery, exploiting children as young as 6 years of age under extreme environment conditions.
There have been several nonprofit agencies rallying to change Africa’s cocoa industry. Many legislative measures have sprung up in response to the modern slavery happening in Africa. Pressure has been placed on the biggest chocolate companies to get rid of child trafficking in their supply chains. However, UNICEF reports that even with these measures, child trafficking and human slavery is still prevalent in the cocoa industry.
What can we do to as consumers?
To strive for a slave free chocolate product, consumers must first look at the origin of cocoa in the product. If the cocoa comes from African, most likely slavery or forced labor was involved. If the cocoa was grown in South America or Asia, chances of slavery labor are greatly reduced. Consumers can also look for certain labels such as the Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance symbols (shown above). There are also some great resources to help inform us consumers about our chocolate purchases: slave free chocolate directory of ethical companies, or fair trade app.
Want to learn more about the cocoa industry? Check out these websites: