You are at Dollarama and you beg your mom for a chocolate bar and she says “Yes.” You look for the biggest one they have. You take Kit Kat and stand in line. How much trouble can one chocolate bar cause? Well, a lot of trouble, one chocolate bar probably can ruin a child’s life. Before you learn the dark side of chocolate, let’s learn some history, then how chocolate is made.
The earliest record of chocolate was over fifteen hundred years ago in Central America. Chocolate comes from cocoa beans that grow on the cacao tree. This tree was worshipped by the Mayan civilization and cacao is a Mayan word which means “God Food.”
The Aztecs of Mexico also prized these beans, but had to obtain them through trade or war. The Aztecs also used the beans as money. They made a special drink with the cocoa bean called “Xocolatl”. When the Spanish arrived they could not pronounce the word and so called it “Chocolat”, the English then called it Chocolate.
Many think that chocolate is easy to make, little do they know that there are many steps to producing chocolate.
The workers cut the ripe cacao bean pods from the trees and scrap out the pulp inside. It is left for a few days to ferment and then spread in the hot sun to dry. The seeds are roasted. The inner kernel of the seed is broken into bits called “nibs”. The types of chocolate depends on how the nibs are treated. Nibs are ground under heavy stone mills and the oil is released and turns this mass into “chocolate liquor”. This when hardened, makes bitter chocolate used in baking. To make sweet chocolate you add cocoa butter, which is a fat and other ingredients are also added. cocoa butter is a byproduct of chocolate. When cocoa butter is finely ground it produces that great drink cocoa.
... selling chocolate had sprung up throughout Europe. The Aztecs made chocolatl by roasting cocoa beans in clay pots. Then on a stone called ... the beans must be dried. After the cocoa beans are dried, they are cleaned, sorted, roasted and cracked. The resulting small nibs of cocoa ... supposedly drank more than fifty cups of chocolate a day, thinking the drink would make him feel more passionate. In 1624, ...
Chocolate is a wonderful treat that many people enjoy, but there is a proper way to harvest it. Most companies do it the wrong way. In the last decade, the cocoa prices have been so low that the farmers were actually losing money on their crops each year! Fifteen thousand children between the ages of 9-12 have been sold into forced labor on cotton, coffee and cocoa plantations in West Africa in the recent years. The children are working instead of receiving an education and are also robbed of a childhood.
The tools the children use to work on the farms are machetes which are large knives used to cut down the branches of tall cacao trees. The children don’t have proper protection to work on the farms. They have to carry the bags of cocoa beans that weigh more than themselves. The children are not paid or get fed well and are usually beaten. They are locked up in a small room where they often sleep on wooden planks. The children even claim they were taken from their homes and brought to work as slaves.
If companies would buy and demand fair trade cocoa, farmers would get the resources that would allow them to eliminate child labor on the farms. The label guarantees that farmers and workers get a fair price. The fair price means the farmers can feed their families and children can go to school to get an education.
Next time you are at a candy shop think of the person’s life that you are endangering. Instead, buy fair trade produce. Then you are certain that the farmers will get a fair price for their products.
... cocoa prices remaining relatively low, the need to lower labor costs becomes a necessity as production struggles to survive; thus children ... as the world’s most popular sweet, chocolate. There are about five-six million cocoa farmers worldwide, many in West Africa. 40-50 ... some growth in these sectors. Fair trade cocoa is cocoa from farmers that are compensated a fair amount for their product according ...
Friedland, Julian, Business Ethics Memo, 2007