The ethical implications of making chocolate

Graphic by Alan Li

Chocolate is one of the world’s favourite products, but producing it presents harsh difficulties, as it poses tough tasks for cocoa farmers.

Most people don’t have a clue where their chocolate bar was made or by who.

Cote d’Ivoire produces the largest volume of chocolate and 40 per cent of global supply.

The primary locations of growth are regions of Africa, Latin America and Asia. The high demand for it means the increase of its international price.

The Dark Side of Chocolate, a 2010 documentary directed by Danish journalist Miki Mistrati, exposed the chocolate industry of exploitation and slavery for forcing children to harvest chocolate even after certain industries pledged to end it.

The footage was shot with a secret camera that showed viewers the truth about big chocolate companies, their race for profits and their careless attitudes towards the exploitation of children.

In a study provided by Tulane University in 2010, it was revealed that over 1.8 million children work on cocoa farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. These children work in harsh conditions where they are forced to work on the farm and are withheld from attending school. Ghana and the Ivory Coast live on less than a dollar a day and poverty has become the result of it.

Fair trade helps places like Ghana and the Ivory Coast by guaranteeing minimum prices by investing in local communities so that farmers and communities have a better future ahead. And the cocoa used in fair trade chocolate isn’t harvested by children.

Fairtrade chocolate benefits our planet by pushing cocoa companies to follow fair trade environmental steps. It helps develop sustainable harvests that increase biodiversity and preserve valuable ecosystems. On top of that, fair trade decreases the need of harsh chemical pesticides as most of the cocoa is grown in shade which actually helps farmers of a variety of products such as fresh fruit.

Buying fair trade chocolate does make an impact on the lives of cocoa farmers and their families. According to Fairtrade Canada, as of 2014, there are 140,000 fairtrade cocoa farmers in Western Africa. The sale volumes for cocoa fair trade grew by 17 per cent.

Through the system of fair trade, workers are paid fairly, and healthcare institutions, housing facilities and schools are improved in the process.

Most cocoa farmers in these regions that are not a part of a fair trade system haven’t even tasted chocolate. Fair trade guarantees that cocoa will be distributed among local regions as well, so that what is grown is not entirely for distant countries.

According to Fair Trade U.K., 25 per cent of all fair trade cocoa growers are women, which helps increase the status and importance of women in these communities.

Women are often paid much less than men and do not own any land that they work on.

As a result of the lack of ownership, this leads to the inability for women to get a line of credit or loans to increase the quality of their crops and obtain better equipment so that working conditions are less harsh. Fair trade allows for equal pay so that women can invest in their farms.

Education is a key aspect to cocoa communities and with Fairtrade Africa training cocoa farmers on financial management. Farmers and importantly, women farmers, are given an education. The improvement of education and equal pay allows for children’s lives to remain carefree from forced labor.

The cocoa production in Ghana and the Ivory coast are at an all time high and environmental problems also arise because of it. Some of the problems include: water and soil contamination from harsh pesticides, ozone layer depletion and abiotic depletion.

Fairtrade chocolate benefits our planet by pushing cocoa companies to follow fair trade environmental steps. It helps develop sustainable harvests that increase biodiversity and preserve valuable ecosystems. On top of that, fair trade decreases the need of harsh chemical pesticides as most of the cocoa is grown in shade which actually helps farmers of a variety of products such as fresh fruit.

This chocolate proves to be safer for intake and minimizes our environmental footprint on the earth.

The registered brands provided by Fairtrade Canada are: Cadbury, Divine, Ross Chocolates, Theobroma, Valrhona, Rochef, Whistler Chocolate, OMG’s Candy, Prana and many more.

Over 1,500 chocolate products bear the Fairtrade label.

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