Just in time for Easter, BBC1 aired an eye-opening special about the truth behind where many of us get our chocolate. Chocolate: The Bitter Truth follows reporter Paul Kenyon as he goes undercover as a cocoa trader to expose the reality of the industry. While in West Africa, Kenyon learned some disturbing facts, including that there is a high rate of human trafficking and child slave labor involved in chocolate production—even for those products marked “fair trade.”
According to lawyer Terry Collingsworth, a leading critic of the chocolate industry, most legislative efforts to put an end to child labor in the industry have been a “complete failure.” Collingsworth thinks new, more specific laws need to be passed:
Let’s dust off that law, and if you mean what you say and you want to stop the use of child slaves producing products like cocoa, let’s pass that law, and then we’ll have something to work with so that we can successfully stop this crime.
The chocolate companies maintain that they are working to solve the problem. The issue, they contend, is more complex than it seems, as most families need their children’s income to survive.
One thing is for certain, it’s important to know where your chocolate is coming from this holiday season. The biggest influence many of us have is where we decide to spend our money. This Easter, vote for fair labor practices with your dollar and buy chocolate from fair trade and organic-certified, slave-free companies such as Camino Cocoa, AlterEco, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Deans Beans, Equal Exchange, and Green and Black’s.