Chocolate, the most popular candy in America. Everyone has had it, and everyone has heard of the big brand names: Hersheys, Nestle or Mars. However, to my surprise almost no one I know has heard of the not so sweet side of chocolate . . . Your chocolate is made by slave labor.
When people think of modern day slavery, the sex slave buisnesss is often what comes to mind. However, of the estimated 24.9 million victims of human trafficking world wide only 19% (4.8 million) of those are sexually exploited. There are approximately 16 million (64%) people forced into labor. These people are forced to work in brutal conditions with very little to no compensation. They often face the threat of punishment if they don’t fulfill their work to their traffickers’ liking. Two thirds of the world’s coco supplies come from the Ivory Coast (West Africa), a hot spot for slavery. It also contains the majority of child labor. Of the 5.5 million children trapped in modern slavery, the Ivory Coast chocolate slaves make up for an estimated 2.2 million.
All of these people are stuck in horrible conditions. Forced to work against their will and often are horrifically mistreated. All while Americans and big companies enjoy the fruits of their labor without a care in the world. The more we buy chocolate made from slave labor the more the human trafficking business benefits. In fact, the human trafficking business is estimated to have a $150 billion profit yearly. The more human traffickers make, the more people they enslave and the longer people are exploited.
While the big companies profit off of exploitation, there are other chocolate companies that ethically source their chocolate and work to end slave labor. Of these chocolates my personal favorites are Tony’s Chocolonely, Endangered Species, and Chocolove. All of these can be found in your local grocery stores. Even though they may cost a little more than your typical Hershey’s product, the extra money is worth spending when it saves peoples lives. Help end modern day slavery by buying fair trade products instead of products made through the exploitation of human life. You can tell if a product is fair trade certified through the fair trade symbols marked on the wrapper. These are the most common symbols you will find are:
Help end modern day slavery and buy fair trade products. Click on the links below if you’re interested to find out more about:
Kaitlyn Cammarata is a junior at Sweet Home High School. She loves writing, music and reading.