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Chocolate produced by slaves

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A lot of the world's chocolate supply is produced by child labor and slave labor.

I've been trying for a while now to figure out how to post about this, because a lot of the material I see about it is a couple years old, and because I've found it hard to find good recommendation lists of companies that do ethically source their chocolate.

But a friend's link this morning led me indirectly to the Food Empowerment Project's “Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry” page, which appears to have been updated within the past year.

And they provide not only a list of chocolate companies but an iOS and Android app for ease of reference.

So next time you're buying chocolate, take a look at this list (or another list like it) and try to buy some that wasn't made by slaves. And if your favorite chocolate company isn't willing to say where its chocolate comes from, consider contacting them and letting them know that you want them to be more ethical.

A couple of notes:

  • This list is specifically focused on companies that make vegan chocolate products. They don't list companies that don't make vegan chocolate. There are other lists out there that do include non-vegan chocolate, but I've had trouble finding well-maintained lists. So this seems like a good start.
  • I'm a little uncomfortable with the ways in which the F.E.P. page seems to me to perpetuate the common American “Africa is a land of poverty” narrative. But most of the page is specifically about the chocolate-production industry in Ivory Coast and Ghana, not about general conditions in Africa, even if they're not always completely careful to make that distinction.
  • Looking for a “fair trade” label can be a convenient shortcut, but that term can mean a variety of different things; not all fair trade chocolate is ethically sourced, and not all ethically sourced chocolate is labeled fair trade. As the site notes, “no single label can guarantee that the chocolate was made without the use of exploitive labor.”
  • Another convenient shortcut: the site notes that “the majority of organic cocoa originates” in Latin America, and adds, “At this time, neither slavery nor child labor have been documented on these cocoa farms.” So if you don't want to go through the whole list, then as a rule of thumb, organic chocolate from Latin America sounds like it may be a reasonably good choice in general.

2 Comments

That's too bad. Thanks for the link and info; a good reminder that there are multiple axes on which to judge companies' practices.


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