Officially, International #ChocolateDay is September 13th... but we think that's for under-achievers. At Global Gifts in Nora, we're celebrating all week long with #fairtrade chocolate samples and a delicious giveaway. (We'll tell you more about that in a second.)
Ever wonder where the world's chocolate comes from?
West Africa produces 70% of the world's cacao (the main ingredient in chocolate) and 40% of that comes from the Ivory Coast. Big corporations purchase most of this cacao from intermediaries to make the chocolate bars and candy that you see in stores.
The Darker Side of Chocolate
The story behind that supply chain is a grim one: illegal child labor in West Africa is a problem that has plagued the chocolate industry for decades with little improvement despite journalistic exposes and international pressure.
Without access to the market, many family-owned cacao farms rely on intermediaries to buy their crops, but these middlemen pay so little that most farmers struggle just to get by. Out of desperation, some turn to illegal child labor and enlist kids from their extended families or communities to work excessively long, hazardous days in the field – to an abusive extreme far beyond normal chores or help.
Thousands of other children are trafficked from Mali and Burkina Faso and sold to cacao farmers in the Ivory Coast. These adolescents, desperate for work to help support their families, are deceived by traffickers who promise them good jobs. Once over the border, far from home and their own languages, these children are also forced to work long days of dangerous labor with no access to education, proper nutrition, or health care. Most are unable to escape or seek help. Despite this being a well-documented, ongoing crisis, we have seen little actual progress. And it is this cacao, harvested by exploited children, that often ends up in mainstream chocolate.
The fair trade cacao supply chain is different. Our vendors work with small farmer cooperatives in Peru, Panama, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic and they have a close working relationship with those farmer partners -- visiting their co-ops often. Fair trade organizations like Equal Exchange are invested in the well-being and success of the individuals, communities and small businesses behind their chocolate. In their system, there are no middlemen or brokers, and producer partners receive above-market prices for their crops. Additionally, nonprofit, independent certifying organizations monitor these cacao farms to verify that they follow fair labor standards.
When you buy fair trade chocolate, you help promote a system that eliminates the desperation that causes some farmers to use unpaid laborers.
And, this week, you might be the lucky duck who wins a basketful of yummy #fairtrade chocolate! How? Check out the picture of the fishbowl above. Give us your best estimate of how many chocolates are in that jar. You can guess once per day in the comment box below, once per day on our Facebook page, and you can also drop by the Nora store to register your guess in person. SA-WEET!