Is There Child Labor In Your Chocolate?
February 12, 2016 at 09:25 AM EST
SOURCE: Fair Trade USADESCRIPTION:
Whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not, biting into a velvety piece of chocolate is likely a non-negotiable activity on your February 14 agenda. In fact,Americans will eat more than 58 million pounds of chocolate in the weeks leading up to one of the sweetest days of the year. No surprise there, right? We love our chocolate!
But what you may not love, or even be aware of, is the reality of what it takes to get our delicious cocoa to market. As is the case with most agricultural commodities, in the cocoa industry it's the people on the front lines of the supply chain -- the farmers -- who get the least return. Cocoa farmers in West Africa, where 70% of the world's cocoa comes from, can earn as little as $0.25-$0.50 a day, and are stuck in deep cycles of poverty.
The systemically low prices in cocoa have drastic consequences for farmers and their families. More than 2 million children in the Ivory Coast and Ghana are being deprived of their childhoods, either working in extremely hazardous conditions or working in lieu of going to school, so that we can get our chocolate fix. And even as demand for cocoa increases, as it has over the last five years, dependence on child labor has shown little sign of improving. In fact, according to a study conducted by Tulane University, the number of children involved in hazardous work in cocoa increased by 46% in the Ivory Coast between 2009 and 2014.
Why Does Child Labor Happen?
Child labor doesn't happen because cocoa farmers don't want a bright future for their kids. More often than not it's simply a means of survival.
Three main factors contribute to the prevalence of child labor in the West African cocoa industry:
But don't worry--this is not where we tell you to stop eating chocolate. To the contrary, you should eat MORE chocolate. That's because, when done right, your indulgence has the power to shift this industry for the better.
What Happens When You Buy Fair Trade Certified Chocolate?
KEYWORDS: Ethical Production and Consumption, Business & Trade, Valentine's Day, valentine, love, chocolate, cocoa, fair trade, Fair Trade Chocolate, ethical chocolate, kids, School, Child labor, West Africa, africa, empowerment, Gifts, ethical gifts