Truth about chocolate

Brielle Scullark, Feature Editor

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Before you sip on your hot cocoa or sink your teeth into your Christmas-themed chocolate treats this holiday season, you should know the true story behind what you are eating.

Chocolate comes from the cacao bean which is mostly grown in Western Africa, South America, and some parts of Asia. More than 70 percent comes from the Western African countries of Ghana and the Ivory Coast according to the Food Empowerment Project.

So how exactly does this cocoa bean get transformed into a billion-dollar industry?

Like any crop, the cocoa bean has to be harvested first, but who it is harvested by is truly heartbreaking. Most mainstream chocolate companies use child labor to harvest their chocolate. Your favorite chocolate candy might have been the product of child slavery.

Yes, slavery. It’s 2017, yet it still exists. Children as young as five years old are being trafficked and abducted to work on cocoa farms. They are taken from their families and homes to work in extreme, unimaginable conditions only for a pathetic $.25-$.50 a day, according to a Huffington Post article by Fair Trade USA.

Child labor isn’t something new. It’s been happening for centuries, but what shocked me the most was that I was completely unaware of this issue and the severity of it. And so many people are too.

To be a responsible consumer, we need to discover these injustices on our own.

Even though the $60 billion dollar chocolate industry has more than enough money to stop using child labor, these companies remain silent. Hershey is the top chocolate company in North America and has even acknowledged that they use child labor according to an article on the Odyssey.

What does this say about the morals and characteristics of the companies we let succeed in our country?  Are we really allowing profit to hold more worth than a child’s life?

Children should not be held against their will to work on cocoa farms just so we can have our Snickers bars or Reese’s Cups. While we argue if the right or the left side of the Twix is better, children in Western Africa are being robbed of their childhood to be a slave.

Just some food for thought.

After learning about this, I wanted to research what other companies use child labor. And I was in awe to find out that these were very successful companies and I was a owner of many of their products.

H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Walmart and even Apple are guilty of using child labor. Yes, that brand new iPhone X you are begging to get for Christmas was produced by child labor. Let that sink in.

Although these companies have money and seem all powerful, we, the consumers, have to real power to put an end to child labor. We control what companies we give our money to. We have the responsibility to speak up and say this is wrong and call companies out for doing this.

Of course, it will not be easy to just completely stop buying from companies that we have been all of our lives. But think, if we slowly start spending less on these items and protest maybe they will stop using child labor if they see a drop in sales.

And for my fellow chocoholics reading this, you can still have chocolate, but you have to make some changes. There are chocolate brands that are child labor free. Look for brands that have a Fair Trade logo. This way you can have tasty, guilt-free chocolate in more ways than one.

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Truth about chocolate