Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Choice's People

Ripe cocoa pods

Chocolate. Milk. Dark. White. If you eat chocolate, you've already made your flavor choice, and right now you're considering your next taste. Perhaps it will be gilded in foil wrapping, steaming in warm milk, accessorizing a fresh strawberry, or melted into the shape of a long-eared Easter bunny. Me? I Dagoba dark chocolate and it's Divinely wrapped.

Let me explain. Up until four years ago, I didn't understand that some candy companies purchase cocoa from growers who use trafficked human labor. A slave picked my chocolate? Well, yes, if the candy manufacturer  knowingly purchased its cocoa or cocoa products from growers whose child and adult laborers were trafficked or enslaved on plantations in Ivory Coast, Ghana and other cocoa-growing regions South America. That's a long chain of choices, from growers, to purchasers, to manufacturers to wholesalers, retailers, restaurateurs, to consumers. Each choice makes the chain of unfair trade and human trafficking possible. When I learned that, I was felled by the biggest chocolate tummy ache ever.

Recovered and craving information, I thumbed through a friend's catalog from a fair trade network called SERVV. Flipping to the food section, I discovered Divine Chocolate, owned and managed by a farmer cooperative in Ghana. First called "Kuapa Kokoo" or "Good Cocoa Growers" in the local language, Divine Chocolate's mission began and remains "to empower farmers in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood, to increase women's participation in all of Kuapa's activities, and to develop environmentally friendly cultivation of cocoa." 1 Good choices.

I made my first purchase, took my first bite, and took my first stand for chocolate. My local coffee shop sells fair trade coffee. I spoke to the owner about adding fair trade chocolate, dropped the name of  my new found chocolate fix, and within the month, colorfully wrapped bars of Divine Chocolate winked out at customers waiting to order their lattes, cappuccinos, chais, and mochas. It was that easy.

Divine Chocolate is by no means alone on the list of fair trade, slave-free chocolate companies. Other heroes are:

  • Dagoba
  • Equal Exchange
  • Green & Black's
  • Theo Chocolate
  • Whole Foods Private Label

For a more complete list, go to Slave Free Chocolate Directory

My education continues and awareness keeps me motivated to choose chocolate that chooses people over profits. Join the discussion. Eat chocolate. Stop Traffic.

Peace,
Kathleen

Kathleen Luz (Wellesley '86), is a writer and linguist with a passion for culture, international relations, and human rights law.

1 The Divine Chocolate Story

Sources:

  1. Slave Free Chocolate http://slavefreechocolate.org/ 
  2. Green America http://www.greenamerica.org/programs/fairtrade/MovieScreening.cfm
  3. Divine Chocolate  http://www.divinechocolateusa.com 
  4. Not For Sale Campaign http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/news/2012/02/01/nfs-welcomes-hersheys-new-commitment-to-improve-supply-chains/
  5. Raise the Bar Hershey http://www.raisethebarhershey.org/why-cocoa/

1 comment: