Special needs

Chocolate and child labour

Amy learns the shocking truth behind some chocolate production

By Amy Baskin
Chocolate and child labour

Jack Kesselman

Jack and I watched a shocking documentary on the weekend. In CBC’s Chocolate — the Bitter Truth — we learned the horrific truth behind some of our beloved chocolate bars. More than 40% of the world’s cocoa comes from the West African region of Cote d’Ivoire. According to the CBC, the UN estimates there are 15,000 children working on cocoa farms there. Children (some as young as eight) are trafficked across borders and are used as forced labour. 
In the doc, we saw boys dressed in rags, with cuts from machetes — their tool for cutting down cocoa pods. Spending their day in forced labour, these boys don’t go to school. In one particularly poignant scene, a child labourer is offered a bite of a chocolate bar — a treat that he had never before tasted.
Juxtapose the image of that child with our kids — lovingly decked out in their costumes tonight — and my heart breaks. Some highly disturbing food for thought on Halloween. How do we know if the particular chocolate we’re buying comes from the forced labour of children?
This year, I couldn’t bring myself to buy our usual mini chocolate bars for trick or treaters. Instead we’re giving out licorice from a company that supports Big Brothers/Big Sisters. But there’s got to be more we can do.
If you get a second check out the video. Were you aware of the dark side behind chocolate production? Do you try and buy fair trade chocolate? Any other ways to take action?

This article was originally published on Oct 31, 2011

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