Once a self-confessed chocaholic, at my most indulgent I could easily have worked my way through Wonka’s factory without flinching. No afternoon was tolerable without the sickly-sweet pleasure of a Snickers bar; it never took much to convince me to ‘have a break, have a KitKat’. Those days are behind me now but, admittedly, I could never abstain completely. Life is too short.
I was shocked recently to discover the true cost of my indulgence. Over a third of the world’s cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast, in Africa, where the beans are harvested by thousands of children from Cote D’Ivoire and neighbouring countries; children who have been forced into slavery. They work long hours on the plantations and receive no pay for the work that they do. It is likely that most of our favourite sweet-treats are produced in this way.
On hearing this I became disheartened. Did this mean that I could no longer savour the silky, smooth feeling of melting milk chocolate in my mouth? Not so! Many companies in the chocolate industry have signed-up to fair trade regulations that ensure that trafficking is not supported. However, some have not. So, the way I can enjoy a guilt-free treat is by checking for the Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance logo on my chocolate bar. If it doesn’t have it, I won’t buy it. Why should innocent people suffer so that I can enjoy a momentary cocoa and sugar induced rush?
Yet, all is not lost if my old favourites don’t meet traffick-free conditions. Stop the Traffik have some great ideas for supporting the campaign against trafficking in the chocolate industry. More and more companies are agreeing to change their practices for the better and by personally committing to only buying fair trade chocolate, I am encouraging them to do so.
All this said, I couldn’t possibly encourage others to indulge in fair trade chocolate without leading by example. Not to worry, I will selflessly pave the way. I’m off to enjoy a bit of guilt-free, mid-morning decadence.