Why Change Chocolate?
Chocolate! Almost everyone loves it. It's magical stuff. It’s delicious. It cheers us up. We give it to our partners in the spirit of romance. We hide it in stockings and baskets for important holidays.
But much of the world’s chocolate has a dark side.
And Big Chocolate (it’s a thing, like Big Oil and Big Pharma) has worked for decades to hide that dark side.
Most chocolate comes from only two countries: nearly 75% of all chocolate consumed worldwide comes from cacao grown in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, which border each other in West Africa. Millions of small farmers each earn less than $1 per day, living in extreme poverty, to serve the demands of Big Chocolate.
Because the industry is so concentrated, Big Choc exerts firm control over the supply in these places, how much is paid for it, and, ultimately, the conditions it is produced in. With such meagre compensation, and such pressure from multinationals, it’s no mystery why cocoa production relies on child labour and slavery.
The U.S. government estimates that more than two million children work in these farms in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. More than two million!
Nearly all these children are subject to what experts say are “the worst forms of child labour,” such as working with dangerous tools or harmful pesticides.
Cacao production also causes deforestation. In the last 60 years, Ghana has lost 80% of its forest cover; Cote d'Ivoire 94%. A third of this is directly attributable to cocoa production.
Deforestation reduces biodiversity as wild plant and animal habitats are destroyed to create more space for crops. But deforestation also contributes to climate change, as local regions are less able to absorb CO2. This promotes more deforestation as people are forced to farm in new areas of land. It's a vicious circle.
The chocolate supply chain carries its own outsized carbon footprint, with more CO2 emissions, pound for pound, than cheese, lamb or chicken.
If our cocoa-free chocolate takes over the world, will farmers lose their jobs? We hope not! We're not anti-chocolate, especially if it’s truly fair trade, slavery free, and environmentally responsible. Without the iron grip of multibillion-dollar multinationals, farmers, cooperatives and cacao-growing governments could reassert control over their supply chains, improve conditions and create a new cacao industry that works for and benefits them and their families and children.
Big Chocolate’s record on child and slave labour, unfair wages, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and much more suggests we can’t wait for this industry to bring meaningful change.
We believe our favourite sweet treats should be harm-free and guilt-free.
For more information about child labour and slavery in the chocolate industry, please visit our friends at Food Empowerment Project: https://foodispower.org/human-labor-slavery/slavery-chocolate/