Guest Blogger: My Wife, Linda Robinson
I was recently dismayed to learn that most of the chocolate we enjoy has actually been made by children in slavery in the few countries that produce the cocoa beans. Many were illegally trafficked into these countries (meaning kidnapped and/or sold away from their families), while others were promised a “good” job that would help support their families. All are working in deplorable conditions with little pay and frequent beatings.
In 2001, the Harkin-Engel Cocoa Protocol was signed to commit chocolate companies to address slavery on cocoa farms in West Africa. However 2 deadlines in ’05 and ’08 have passed with no changes being made by major chocolate companies (all admitted the problem existed but they have no financial incentive to change how they get their supplies).
For Christmas this year, I'm giving friends and family products from Divine Chocolate. This chocolate is produced by the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative—the first farmer-owned company that was formed by small cocoa farmers who united to negotiate better prices (fair-trade) and safe conditions (slave-free). They use their profits to fund schools and wells in their country, as well as to support their families.
If you are interested in buying their chocolate (and other fair-trade, slave-free items like clothing, jewelry and home décor), see www.Serrv.org. If you want to learn more about the chocolate production by enslaved children, see www.slavefreechocolate.org or the book Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices by Julie Clawson.
The answer is not to stop buying chocolate, but to purchase it from a slave-free source, or to write to your favorite chocolate company to demand that they abide by the Harkin-Engel Protocol (and then not buy their product if they don’t.) In my opinion, cheap chocolate isn’t worth the sacrifice of little children. There is a great story in Clawson’s book about three kids from England who got Cadbury Chocolate to change their milk chocolate bars to only slave-free, fair-trade certified.
Just think if we all (and everyone we know) wrote a letter and used our power as a consumer to change these kids’ lives. My son Joel will be writing to Milky Way, while I will contact the Tootsie Roll company. Trey and Kaira are Hershey lovers, so they’ll be sending a letter to Hershey, PA. Bob will be writing to Mars, Incorporated, who makes what he’s enjoyed: Dove Chocolate.
For more information about the 27 Million people enslaved in the world today and what we can do about it, check out International Justice Mission and the Not For Sale Campaign.
Thanks so much!!!!
From Bob: An Update on Our Anti-Slavery Campaign - Here's how you can send a letter to the major chocolate manufacturers.