Your Favorite Chocolate Bar Has Slave Ties
Chocolate is one of the world’s greatest commodities with over 7 million tons being consumed each year, but this sweet treat comes with a quite a backstory.
Dating back to the mid-1600s, Spanish landowners were enslaving West Africans to farm cacao beans, which are the foundation of chocolate, in Brazil and Venezuela to sell to Europeans.
After wars made it difficult to export cacao to Europe, growers began to plant cacao trees in Western Africa where the rainy and hot climate made it an ideal location.
Since the beginning of cacao farming in Western Africa, child labor has been used to harvest the beans despite government regulation. Some children work on the farms voluntarily to support their families; however, the majority of child workers are abducted and sold by traffickers to cacao farmers starting as early as age 5.
These children climb trees, chop the cacao down with large machetes, cut open the pods, then stuff bags full weighing up to 100 pounds that they must carry or drag. Working over 80 hrs per week, they are denied the opportunity to go to school, ruining any chance of breaking the cycle of poverty for their families.
Of the ones who do get paid, they make less than $2 per day.
Major corporations such as Hershey's, Nestle, M&Ms, and Godiva are the biggest buyers of cacao beans. They don’t want their customers to know their role in supporting the inhumane practice of child labor.
By exploiting African youth labor, they have built a multi-billion dollar industry on our backs.
We have the opportunity to make informed decisions about our purchases and keep our money out of the hands of corporations that are literally starving our people. Buying fairtrade and organic chocolates is one way to take a stand against this grave injustice.
Companies like these ensure that no child labor is involved and all workers are equitably paid for their role in producing the chocolate.
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