7 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade Chocolate

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Mmmm, chocolate. The very word can lift our spirits. Not only is chocolate one of the richest and most distinctive flavors in the world, it offers up some impressive health benefits as well. In fact, many Americans indulge in this beloved confection every day─which is why we should be aware of the dark side of chocolate production. Here are 7 very compelling reasons to buy fair trade chocolate:
7 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade Chocolate

To discourage the practice of child slavery

By some estimates, there are more than 15,000 child slaves working on cocoa farms in West Africa. A 2001 study by the Geneva-based International Labor Organization found that trafficking in child agricultural labor is widespread in West Africa, where the majority of the world’s cocoa is produced. Get the full story on slavery in the chocolate industry here: http://www.foodispower.org/slavery_chocolate.htm

To support fair labor practices

One of the biggest reasons to support fair trade involves children and unfair labor practices. Today, cocoa farmers barely make a living selling the beans and often resort to the use of child labor in order to keep their prices competitive. In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor, often under very dire conditions, on West African cocoa farms.

To ensure worker safety

An estimated 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in West Africa engage in hazardous tasks such as using machetes and applying pesticides without protective equipment, according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, an Africa-based research group. Many children also work long hours, sacrificing their education. In Ivory Coast, for instance, it’s been estimated that 66% of child cocoa workers can’t attend school, which is a violation of the International Labor Organization child labor standards.

To protect the environment

When farmers and laborers are paid a fair price for the products they produce, they can avoid cost-cutting practices that sacrifice quality and are destructive to the environment. Fair trade chocolate is typically shade-grown, under the canopy of the rainforest, rather than in a clear cut field. Unfair cocoa farming, on the other hand, has stripped the world of hundreds of thousands of acres of precious rainforest. And for all that, the actual workers by and large remain impoverished─despite the fact that the U.S. alone spends $13 billion a year on cocoa products!

To support organic production

Most fair trade chocolate is organically grown, which protects both workers and you. And, because organic farms are routinely inspected in order to maintain their certification, it’s harder for them to exploit their workers. Also, because organic cocoa is typically grown among other rainforest plants, rather than in deforested swaths, it’s naturally more resistant to disease. We also find greater biodiversity on an organic, shade-grown cocoa farm than a deforested plantation.

To help curb production of mass-market chocolate

Despite its role in contributing to child labor, slavery, and human trafficking, the chocolate industry has not taken significant steps to remedy the problem, according to the Food Empowerment Project. However, given that the United States is the world’s largest chocolate consumer, we have considerable power when we speak through our spending dollar.

Because it tastes better

You’re also likely to find that fair trade, organic chocolate─which typically lacks the additives and fillers found in mass-chocolate brands─is the best you’ve ever tasted. Find luscious, high quality, fair trade organic chocolate at Green & Blacks and Equal Exchange.

For a comprehensive list of other fabulous & fair chocolate─as well as brands to avoid─check out the Food Empowerment Project’s list. Wow, fair never tasted so good!

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One Comment for “7 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade Chocolate”

  • I’m always buying as much products fair trade is I can, because of all these benefits… It is more fair and the other people don’t suffer from it, that is my most important reason for buying fair trade!

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