Friday, 10 April 2009

Cruelty-free chocolate tastes better.

There are hard questions regarding chocolate that go beyond whether one first chomps on the ears or the tail of a chocolate Easter bunny.
Questions around provenance, for example. Nestle and Lindt, two major players in the global production of commercial chocolate purchase cocoa crops from densely planted, heavily fertilised and pesticide-sprayed plantations in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Malaysia and Brazil.
But far more serious is the issue of child slave labour.

... the big household names, such as Cadbury Schweppes, Mars and Nestle, refuse to speak individually on the thorny issue of child labour. They describe it as an "industry" issue. They say they are setting up a trust foundation and that surveys have been commissioned. They've also signed an international protocol.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that
... 30% of children under age 15 in sub-Saharan Africa engage in child labor, mostly in agricultural activities including cocoa farming. Of the 200,000 children working in the Ivory Coast cocoa industry, the ILO claims - a maximum of 6% (12,000 children) may be victims of human trafficking or slavery.
Fair trade chocolate products can be found everywhere nowadays; there were even Green & Black tablets on sale at the local Blockbuster recently. An important aspect of fair trade is offering the farmers an opportunity to also participate in the transformation process, which creates more jobs in addition to those dedicated to agriculture employment. Fairly traded chocolate are available from Cocoa Camino (from La Siembra, Canada's largest fair trade chocolate company), Dagoba and others, here.
Another concern, but not as pressing from an ethical and human rights perspective is the ongoing debate among European Union governments and their chocolate producers regarding changes to chocolate purity standards.
How much vegetable fat -- other than cocoa butter -- can you put in chocolate and still call it chocolate? ... The EU's chocolate debate pits eight purist nations against seven that take a relaxed view of chocolate. Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands ban cocoa-butter substitutes in chocolate. The others [are] Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Switzerland ...
With respect to fairly traded and organic chocolates, regulating whether products are adulterated with GMO soya, canola or corn oil, for example, is not as urgent a matter since farming and manufacturing practices are transparent and open to accountability.


Beijing York said...

Thoughtful post dBO. Love the graphic.

Antonia Z said...

Green & Black is not fair trade. It is organic, however it is owned by Schweppes, one of the world's largest food conglomerates.
More about fair trade chocolate here:

deBeauxOs said...

Green & Black's has one line of chocolates (Maya Gold) that is fairly traded chocolate; it carries the Transfair US mark. Check the website and links.

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