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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

We Don't Support Slave Labor Chocolate, Hudson Valley Restaurant

How Fair is Your Chocolate?

Do we really have to have slavery in our chocolate? Do we have to have
tens of thousands of kids being beaten, starved, made to work long hours with machetes and hoes, exposed to pesticides without protective gear, all so that
the price paid to cocoa farmers remains just about 1¢ on the dollar we pay for a
chocolate bar?

Chef Marcus Guiliano says “No” to all of the above. He says the best answer is Fair Trade in Cocoa.

“Okay,” says Chef Marcus, “we know that global agribusiness is so rigged that it’s more like organized crime than a free market. It’s all about subsidies for rich farmers in rich countries.
“Which means that poor farmers in poor countries have very few options in terms of growing something they can export to rich markets. While we’re dumping our subsidized crops on world markets, the only things they can grow for export are often coffee, tea and cocoa.
“Why? Because we can’t grow those tropical crops ourselves.
“But that means there’s often too much cocoa on the market, the price crashes and it crushes small farmers. And because they’re stuck in poverty they do desperate stuff, like buying little boys for $30 from even more impoverished families and working them as slaves.“
The power to change all this? “Well, you’d think that Hershey’s and Mars, the really big companies, would want to change it. They say they do, but ultimately they’ve chosen not to rock the boat. They buy their cocoa from international exchanges that blend in cocoa from slave operations with everyone else’s so you have no idea what you’re buying.”
Most of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, with Indonesia and South America filling out the roster. 43% alone comes from Cote D’Ivoire, the state most associated with slavery in the business.
“It has been the rule that if you wanted to avoid slavery grown chocolate you bought South American. That’s still the most practical way to do it, although I know there’s an effort by some West African producers to get Fair Trade certification. The way to be sure there’s no slavery in your chocolate is to examine the packaging, and research the companies that produce it.
“I like Green and Black, who were pioneers in this field, plus The Endangered Species Chocolate Company, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, and Divine Chocolate, which comes from a Ghanaian cooperative. Then there’s David Wolfe, the raw food guru, who has a great line of nibs, powder, whole beans and chocolate treats.
“Until the majors-- Hershey, Mars and Nestle, change their business in a fundamental way, everyone who wants to stop this horror should just make sure that whatever chocolate, cocoa or cocoa nibs they buy has the Fair Trade symbol. That way the farmers get to make a living and we get the best chocolate we can buy.”

Marcus Guiliano
Chef, Health Advocate, Speaker & Consultant
Aroma Thyme Bistro
Ellenville, NY



Anonymous said...

The reality of cocoa farming is somewhat different than what you portray, as are the solutions.

In fact, cocoa is grown on more than two million family-run farms in West Africa. On the vast majority of these farms, children help out as members of the family. Without question, there are serious issues: children helping out instead of attending school, child injuries due to kids undertaking unsafe tasks.

What’s needed are programs that preserve the cocoa farming family structure in which children help out and learn from their parents, while at the same time ensuring that this “helping out” doesn’t injure the child or interfere with their education.

We do not know of any system (fair trade or anything else) that can guarantee that their chocolate was produced without any type of abusive labor practice.

What we do know is that a number of programs are making a difference in the lives of children in cocoa farming communities. One organization – the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) – is working with cocoa farming families worldwide.

WCF-supported programs are helping cocoa farmers earn more (25 to 55 percent) for their crop,, through more effective, sustainable farming techniques and co-operative development. The WCF’s “farmer field schools” approach empowers farmers through education – creating lasting, widespread change.

More than 60 chocolate companies (including fair trade companies and my employer – the National Confectioners Association) are members of the WCF.

To learn more about the World Cocoa Foundation and its members, visit www.worldcocoa.org

Susan Smith
National Confectioners Association

Marcus said...

I was waiting for a comment on this blog topic. There is no excuse for forcing young men into unfair labor.

Please look at my NEW post on the topic, http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2006/02/06/PM200602068.html


Marcus said...

Sorry the last comment had the wrong link


We would never expect you to eat this shrimp, nor do we serve farmed Asian shrimp

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