Have an Eco-Easter with Sustainable Chocolate
Easter just wouldn't be the same without the chocolate bunny, right? Well, before you bite into that seasonal sweet treat, consider where your holiday chocolate may be coming from.
West African countries like Ghana, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast produce over 50 percent of the world's cocoa, most of which ends up in our name brand chocolate bars and in our holiday confections. According to reports by the Switzerland-based International Labor Organization (ILO) and the US State Department, approximately 20,000 West African children from ages 9 to 12 have been forced to labor on cocoa plantations.
Because the cocoa is produced using slave labor and child workers, the finished product is often called "blood chocolate" in reference to the dismal conditions under which most of the world's diamonds are produced. To make matters worse, the cocoa farmers are poor, the plots of land are old, and the soil is degrading quickly. Dubbed a "conflict resource" much like diamonds and illegal timber, cocoa has become a hot topic for fair trade and human rights advocates.
So what can chocolate lovers do to help? Begin by choosing Fair Trade Certified chocolate to tame your sweet tooth. Look for TransFair USA's Fair Trade logo on packaging to ensure that farmers are paid a fair wage to maintain their land and that no child labor was used to produce the cocoa.