Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How sweet is your chocolate?

First of all, I'm very nervous about this post as it varies quite a bit from my usual post content.  But I'm banking on the fact that y'all love me, so here goes.  I'm pretty sure that by now, you guys all know how I feel about chocolate, as in, IloveitsomuchIwannamarryit.   My feelings about chocolate have been changing a little bit and I'm not talking about the debate between whether or not I should choose dark or milk chocolate here.
 I'm talking about something a little more sinister.  My church supports the International Justice Mission(IJM is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.)  It was because of our church's involvement in this organization, that I first heard about the dark side of chocolate.  I discovered that so many of my favorite brands of very popular chocolate were created at the expense of children, like my own...
 ...yet not like my own.  Because those children aren't given a choice like, "Which stuffed animal do you want to play with?"  Instead, they are taken from all they know, handed a machete, and forced to labor in the cocoa plantations just so we can have a sweet treat.  As I began digging and researching a lot into this topic, (and there are hundreds of verifiable websites such as BBC and CNN to back up these findings) I realized that child slavery in the chocolate trade is rampant.  Though most big chocolate companies agree this is terrible, it appears that not much, if anything is being done to change this.  If it says "Fair Trade" on the packaging, you can be assured that you're eating slave-free chocolate but that's about your best guarantee.  You'll also need to expect to pay double for it, as the bag of chocolate chips I just bought cost me a whopping $5.99 compared to the well known brand that was on sale for $2.99.  But isn't it worth paying a little more to send a message?  Make no mistake, it's up to us because we're the ones consuming it.  I recently watched these videos.  And read countless articles.
 I honestly had no idea.  I've been blissfully living my life, eating chocolate with no clue where it really comes from, and now I find that a very large portion of the world's chocolate comes from the plantations on the Ivory Coast in Africa where child slavery is commonplace.  And get this- most of those children have never even tasted chocolate.  But you see... now I know.  I let it break my heart and seep out of my tear ducts.  Valentine's day is approaching, and I read that 58 million pounds of chocolate are consumed in the days leading up to February 14th.  And so I want to put  this challenge before you;

During this holiday of love, can you stop for a moment and think about the precious little faces all along the Ivory Coast, who are hacking away at cocoa plants so that big chocolate companies can process enough to feed our insatiable appetites?
These sweet children, photographed by my man, and pictured in this post, aren't from the Ivory Coast.  But only by a stroke of lucky geography.  It could have been them behind your favorite candy bar.  As you shop this month, choose carefully.  The most loving thing you might do this Valentine's Day, is reach for some overpriced, but untainted chocolate.  
It's up to us to send a message girls.  We can pretend we don't know and push away the reasons to care... or we can do something.  We might not be able to end every single injustice in the world, but a great man once said, "All that is needed for evil to triumph, is for good men (and women) to do nothing."

So.... What are we going to do?  



31 comments:

  1. No worldy idea. Thanks for sharing.
    It'll make this no chocolate thing a whole LOT easier.
    I'll be switching to strawberry flavored Birthday Cake today.

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  2. Interesting, I had no idea. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. I had no idea about chocolate, Sasha. Thank yiu for enlightening us. Gorgeous pictures of gorgeous people, too.

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  4. Hello, my name is Olga and I come from Spain. Like you I love chocolate and because of you, now I know the facts about children's slavery, thanks a lot for sharing them. I have a post and I am going to write about this. Again, thank you, I am sure we can make a difference.

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  5. I had no idea either. I will definitely look for the Fair Trade label. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. I had no idea either. I will definitely look for the Fair Trade label. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. ~ wow ~ thanks for the info ~ i'll be looking for the Fair Trade label on any chocolate I buy in the future

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  8. I had no idea either, thanks so much for helping to get the word out.

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  9. So so sad! Thank you for making us aware so that we can make a small statement. I too will look for the fair trade label.

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  10. We enjoy plenty of chocolate in this house as well. And I have bought fair trade in the past. But I had no idea. Back to fair trade we will go. This is so sad, we really forget how lucky we are to live were we do. Thank God our children are allowed to be children!

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  11. Oh my! I had no idea! Do you know some brands of Fair Trade chocolate?

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  12. UGH. My heart hurts. :( Thank you for sharing! One of my favorite kinds of chocolate is Chocolove, so I went to their website; here is a link on their practices; it appears that they are fine...

    http://www.chocolove.com/faq_child_labor.htm#childlabor

    It's really delicious! About $3 a bar at my health food store, but totally worth it for the taste and keeping kiddos safe...

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  13. Milton Hershey would be ashamed. No really, the man founded a school for children, and yet his company is now one of the worst. I guess they conveniently leave this detail out of the chocolate world tour at their factory, huh?

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  14. Chocolove is my favorite too, I love the milk chocolate and the espresso chocolate, you can also use chocolove for baking.
    Don't forget that EVERY purchase matters, whether you are buying imported clothes, flowers, fruit, sugar, coffee etc. Child slavery is everywhere in the world.

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  15. the first time i heard slavery was alive & well in our world...in our country...& #1 place for sex trafficing is right here in my city, i was BLOWN away.
    thank you for bravely raising awareness. putting a face with a problem ( even if these children were actually on the ivory coast) makes it more real doesn't it?

    the company i'm now affiliated iwth also partners with IJM. i love them ( noonday) all their products are fair trade produced....anyway...
    you go girl with $6 chocolate chips...i'll consider myself now educated & make the same choices

    love you!

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  16. Sarah's Simple Life- I have been totally thinking about ALL of that now too! Thank you for the reminder. I often wonder just HOW much I DON'T Know! It's frightening and I don't want to just trip through life unaware.

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  17. Sasha!!! What a fabulously written article on what most of us didn't know! WE MUST KNOW THIS STUFF!!!!

    I want to spread the word, mind if I do a blog post linking back to this post?! It is so important that everyone possible knows about this.

    Those photos are so precious, this subject so important. Bless you for using your forum to share about it.

    xoxo - Tracy.

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  18. Oh man....this breaks my heart. I imagine my sweet babies in this situation and I just cry.

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  19. Sasha,
    What a great post today. I had no idea. I'll be looking for fair trade chocolate in the future, because like you, I love chocolate.
    Thanks for being such a great teacher.

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  20. Thank you so much for posting this...

    I'm actually doing a blog event to raise awareness of modern slavery right now. You can see it on my blog here.

    http://suchfuntogive.blogspot.com/2012/01/hearts-should-be-free-giveaway-event.html

    "Blogging About Slavery" is one of the extra entries in the giveaways I'm doing for this event...and this would absolutely count! *smile* Thanks for spreading awareness!

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  21. good for you sahsa! this is YOUR blog YOUR thoughts on YOUR life. you need not feel afraid of what we will think! i think you are awesome, and i thank you for bringing awareness to me regarding this! thank GOd we are getting a trader joes here soon where more fair trade options are available!

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  22. Thank you for your eye-opening post. I had no idea at all--none. It's heartbreaking to think that something we eat without thought impacts so many innocent little lives. {Gulp}

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  23. Thanks for bringing awareness to this issue. Like you, I would have never thought twice about it. Sure will now though. What a powerful thing blogging can be, we have the ability to reach so many, and your message was heard loud and clear over here ;)

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  24. We just did a sunday school study on caring for.the least of thdse. The last class in the series was about child slavery, chocolate was o.e topic of discussion. It's very disheartening to hear about these innocent children forced into this kind of work. Then its downright disgusting to think about the "why". Thanks for sharing this <3

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  25. I had no idea either--I will think before I buy next time...thank you for enlightening me--I will pass this info on as well.

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  26. I had no idea. I just finished a dark chocolate bar and I will get the paper wrap and look for the fair trade mark. Could you tell us more.. What chocolates is on the fair trade list?
    This is sad and shocking.

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  27. very aware of child slavery in the world....but wasn't aware that the big chocolate companies were involved!!

    It's SICK.

    We have to be the change!!!!

    Thanks for the honest post....your passion is contagious!!

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  28. I switched to Fair Trade last year, after learning about this horrific fact right around Halloween. My husband talked to his HS students about it in calls and told them very plainly how the major chocolate companies know this is going on and choose to ignore it. We now refer to chocolate in one of two categories- "slave chocolate" and slave-free chocolate" pretty sobering, really. To the kids, we call it "mean" chocolate and "nice" chocolate. The switch has taken some very purposeful pre-planning, but it really has been more inconvenient than difficult. And I mean, I think it's only right that we sacrifice a little convenience in order to send a very important message that CHILDREN SHOULD NOT BE BOUGHT AND SOLD AND MADE INTO SLAVES just so we can eat a sweet treat. I mean, how horrific is that? I found a great website that offered FT unsweetened cocoa powder and I bought 2 HUGE bags of the stuff. Now, all recipes that call for cocoa powder are easily "slave free". Also, Fred Meyer often has the FT chocolate bars on sale or "Buy 1, get 1" and- believe it or not- I have found the lowest priced FT chocolate chips at Whole Foods!

    Ok, I am just rambling now. I could have just said, "PREACH IT SISTER!"

    :)Melissa

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  29. As Oprah says, "when you know better, you do better." once we find out about these things it is up to us to do something about it. Like buying fair trade chocolate. I read a blog called Zero Waste and one of the very valuable things I learned is that every single time we purchase something, we are voting for what we want. If you want to see more privately owned book stores, vote for them by purchasing from them. If you want to see all kinds of independantly owned businesses, buy from them and stay out of the big box stores. Yes, they are cheaper, but everyone needs to put their money were there mouth is. Money talks.

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  30. honestly, this makes me disgusted at we Americans. we're just so gross sometimes. thank you for sharing this. i knew diamond mines were a big issue with child labor, but never cocoa plants. thank you, sweet friend, for sharing from your heart.

    PS: why would anyone write you a nasty email or unfollow you for this?? whatevs...you don't need that negative energy anyway.

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  31. Great hair, it is very you! Thanks for the recipe, I passed your blog on to this young man my son and I met at the Navy Hospital Lab today. Recently got diagnosed with Celiacs and looking for a host of other issues that my son is going through as well. He said he missed cookies and I shared. Thanks for doing what you do, you never know how it might come into conversation and brighten someones day. Catch my latest post to catch up on my son.

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