Eating chocolate without the guilt

Where does your  chocolate come from?

Many cocoa plantations supplying major chocolate companies– Hershey’s, for example–  have been known to use child and slave labor. How can we distinguish “good” chocolate from the bad?

A Fair Trade label tells you that…… the people producing your food are getting paid a fair market price and would also indicate, in this case, ethical production free of child labor.

When we consumers en masse choose Fair Trade (or organic or any certification) over non-certified goods, we demonstrate our market power to incentivize global corporations to do the right thing.

Do you buy any Fair Trade certified products? If so, what?

If not, why not?

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Right now I have a bag of Lindt chocolates on my desk. It says they were manufactured in New Hampshire. Do you know of any resources where one can look up food brands and find out if they are fair trade certified?

    Reply

    • Hi, Portiaz.

      That’s a great question. I did not find a single list that aggregates fair trade certified products.

      Several organizations worldwide certify or otherwise promote fair trade. In the U.S., big names include TransFair USA or Equal Exchange. And any number of discrete, but not necessarily comprehensive, sites offer ways to identify fair trade retailers or products. Here’s one: http://www.greenamerica.org/programs/fairtrade/products/index.cfm

      If a product is fair trade certified it would carry the seal or logo on the package itself. This is a selling point, so the company has every reason to display the fair trade seal. Still, we can’t assume that a product without the seal is not “fairly” produced, purchased, etc.

      As for Lindt, the source of their cacao beans is unclear. Here is a link to an interesting exchange between another blogger and Lindt on this very topic:
      http://www.julietbennett.com/2010/08/18/correction-lindt-didnt-lie-we-can-eat-lindt-chocolate-in-peace/

      In short, I’m not sure whether or not you or I can eat that bag of Lindt chocolates without the guilt. If for nothing else, over the calories consumed!

      Reply

  2. I believe forms of child labor can encourage children to work harder in school to achieve a better paying job in a cushier environment. Although, no one should be living in a mansion on the high road because of children breaking their back to support their lifestyle.

    Reply

    • Hi, 1abo. Thanks for your input. I understand your point; however, these are extreme conditions. A key issue, in this case, are the conditions under which these children work. On the Ivory Coast, child workers are physically abused and forced to work long days (and nights) rather than attend school. Many of the children working on the cacao plantations are trafficked from Mali and sold as slaves. Here’s a detailed case study:

      Reply

  3. I recently heard about this issue myself. It is a bummer since I’m a chocolate addict, but I’m biting the bullet. The ethics are much simpler here than on the iPhone issue.

    Reply

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