Try Fair Trade Chocolate
If you're going to buy chocolate anyway, why not buy fair trade chocolate? It's rich, delicious and comes with one very big bonus. It was made from certified fair trade cacao or cocoa beans. Your purchase makes sure that you'll be getting wonderful tasting chocolate and that those involved in growing and harvesting cocoa beans also benefit.
Growers of cocoa beans face the same struggles as growers of other crops such as coffee or tea. Low prices paid for crops and expensive middlemen that lower the income to the farmer even further.
Abuses Of Child Labor
This is a particular problem with cocoa crops anywhere but it especially affects regions like those in West Africa where cocoa is the main source of income.
It has been estimated that thousands of children most between the ages of 9 thru 12 work to harvest cocoa beans on these farms. Many of these children are sold by desperately poor parents to traffickers believing they will be given work, hopefully have a better life and be able to send money home.
But more often, once the child leaves the home, they may receive little or no pay for long, hard hours cutting cocoa pods from trees with machetes held high above their heads. Once they are cut down they split the beans open and remove the pods.
Hard physical work for an adult. What's it like for a child?
Back in 2001, media attention was brought to child labor abuses in the chocolate industry. The Chocolate Manufacturers Association, representing the chocolate industry promised to make changes and put a certification process in place to eliminate the worse child labor abuses. This was to be completed by July 2005. This process is still not in place.
Surely the largest chocolate manufacturers with their tremendous buying power have the ability to see to it that changes are made but have not done so. Why not? Why can't they buy their cocoa beans from fair trade cooperatives? It's not happening yet.
To Cadburys credit their Dairy Milk Chocolate is now fair trade and they have plans to have more of the chocolate also be fair trade.
So What Can You Do?
Buy fair trade chocolate.
Child labor is strictly prohibited by fair trade standards. Fair trade certified farms are inspected to make sure they meet these standards. Farmers receive a fair price for their crops. They have access to credit and receive education in environmentally sound growing practices such as traditional ways of growing cocoa plants under the shade of large trees where plants can be grown with minimal intervention. This preserves the ecology of the rain forest and all of it's animal and bird inhabitants.
Improved conditions for farmers of fair trade chocolate helps provide better more stable incomes so they are better able to take care of their families and educate their children without being forced into desperate situations.
Where To Shop
Fair trade chocolate can be found at health food stores and some grocery stores. Ask for it if you can't find it. It helps if grocery stores know we want these products.
It is best to purchase chocolate that carries the fair trade logo. It provides assurance that the product has been fair trade certified. Not all companies seek certification but may still follow fair trade practices. My best recommendation if you choose to purchase from these companies is to learn more about them and see if it is easy to find information that supports their claims.
A UK company that is now selling to stores in the US. Their chocolate is from cocoa beans grown in Ghana and now from Sierra Leone too. The company was formed to support the co-op of growers in Ghana who have been working hard to make sure their farmers were treated fairly. This unique company not only makes sure it's farmers receive a fair trade price for their cocoa but has also given ownership of 45% of the company to their farmers.
This chocolate can be found at most health food stores but can also be purchased online at SERRV which carries a great selection from after dinner mints, assortments, bars and more.
Also make sure to check out the Divine Chocolate website it has some great info about this company, it's chocolate and it's mission along with other fun and interesting chocolate info and recipes.
This on-line store carries a selection of fair trade chocolates from different companies including Divine Chocolate. There is something here for every chocolate lover and you'll be supporting one of the larger suppliers of fair trade items. For your chocolate indulgence check out Global Exchange Online Store.
How I Changed The Way I Enjoy Chocolate
I have always enjoyed indulging in chocolate. A quick candy bar when I needed a pick me up was not uncommon. I often found myself consuming chocolate without even thinking. It was just something I grabbed when I felt low both physically and mentally.
As I began to pay more attention not only to myself and my health but also to being a more conscientious shopper I changed how I bought chocolate. Knowing what I did about fair trade chocolate but also seeing how much it cost I knew I could not eat chocolate the same way anymore. Not only was eating so much not healthy but it was unkind.
So I now buy fair trade chocolate. I try for the healthiest kinds which contain at least 65% cocoa content. I love dark chocolate with mint. Yum... and I treat my chocolate as an indulgence to be savored. A eat couple of pieces at a time and take the time to savor each bite. This makes it affordable, more enjoyable and my money goes to something good. Maybe it's my imagination but fair trade chocolate tastes better.
You'll just have to find out for yourself. Do a taste test. It's a tough job but you can handle it.
Fair Trade Gifts
African Shea Butter