When most people think about chocolate and coffee, they think of a luxurious, magical, name brand taste. What those people don't know is that children and adults alike are mistreated, abused, and not getting paid for picking cocoa beans.
Fairtrade is an organization that produces coffee, chocolate, cotton, and tea. The difference is, Fairtrade treats its employees fairly and with respect.
According to the British Broadcasting Company, thousands of children are either being sold or stolen from their families and are taken to the Ivory Coast to be sold as slaves to coca farms. These kids work 80 to 100 hours a week, paid not even a quarter, are barely fed and are brutally beaten on a regular basis.
Aly Diabate, a former slave, said, "The beatings were a part of my life. Anytime they loaded you with a bag of coca beans and you fell while carrying them, nobody helped you. Instead, they beat you until you picked it up again."
In the summer of 2001, the topic of slave labor in chocolate and coffee came to the attention of people in the United States. The pressure on chocolate manufacturers became huge. In late June 2001, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to start a labeling system so shoppers can feel relaxed knowing that no slave labor was used to make their chocolate.
This, however, hurt major chocolate makers. Their only comeback was denying they had any part in the problem since they don't own the farms, but the pressure kept piling on. Later that year, the chocolate industry announced that they had a plan to eventually eliminate child slavery and that the "worst forms of child labor" would not be used in the production of cocoa by 2005.
The change of labor and the labels on chocolate and coffee is a start, but how else can we help? We can change our ways at home by looking for specially labeled packages of chocolate, coffee and other products to be sure there is no slavery involved in the production of our food and drink. You will realize that it's not only helping the cause, but the chocolate tastes just as amazing as, if not better than, the leading brands.
More than 7 million people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America benefit from Fairtrade, including farmers, farm workers and their families. All of them lead their own life; no one leads it for them. There are still slaves, but now we are pressuring for change, and it's working. Just because it's a popular name brand doesn't mean they do the right things, but with Fairtrade, you can be sure you are truly eating a luxurious, magical, slave-free, chocolate bar.