I was looking up the health benefits of dark chocolate when I came across this…
“…trafficking of children to cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire still occurs… significant numbers of young people in Mali and Burkina Faso… worked as children in cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire in the last five years.” This from a December 2010 report by Anti-Slavery International, an NGO that campaigns against slavery in the 21st century.
This sort of thing really does leave a bad taste in my mouth. After all, chocolate is a luxury we love to share with friends and family, even if it’s not always shared out as equally as we would like. I grew up in a household where even the dog would get a share of the family bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk. Somehow there was always enough to go around. Then my mother started to complain there was a “chocolate thief”. Eventually the problem got so out of hand she would hide the family bar somewhere in the fridge, to try and make it harder for little fingers to snap off a row or two, or three.
Old habits die hard, even today, I keep our bar in the fridge and love to savour a rock hard chunk or two. However, on my last trip to the fridge I hesitated, not so much out of guilt or shame but a real sense of disbelief. How could I have done this for all these years without realising my sweet tooth was depriving others of the joys of family life? How can it be that cocoa is still produced by slaves? Who is doing this?
Going online again I found that back in 2001 another report put a spotlight on companies like Nestle, Hershey and Kraft. Also known as ‘Big Chocolate’ these corporations were criticised for making money on the backs of child slaves in West Africa, where most of the world’s cocoa crop is produced.
My search for “child slavery” on Nestle’s website points to background documents and that it’s the first food company to partner with the Fair Labor Association. Nothing comes up for “child slavery” on the websites of Cargill, which handles a huge proportion of the world’s cocoa, nor the London-based International Cocoa Organisation, whose executive includes a rep from the European Commission and oversees the workings of the UN sponsored International Cocoa Agreement.
What’s the situation today? Who’s keeping an eye on what goes on in the cocoa plantations?
You can download a pdf of the Anti-Slavery report here.
1 minute challenge:
The title of this post means something different to ‘the side of something that is obscured or dark, e.g. the dark side of the moon’. Dark side of someone or something also means: Fig. the negative and often hidden aspect of someone or something. e.g. I had never seen the dark side of Mary before, and I have to tell you that I was horrified when she lost her temper, (courtesy of the free dictionary.com). I could also say, the dark side of nuclear power is the long term risk of radioactive contamination. This post uses several idioms like this (highlighted in orange). They are commonly used expressions – so, try to listen out for them and enjoy finding out what they mean.