Blood Chocolate OR Carob < Chocolate

A while ago I read an article in Relevant Magazine about things we buy without realizing how they affect others in the world. One of those things is chocolate. About 70% of the chocolate grown in the world is grown in Western Africa, and 40% of that is grown in just one country, Ivory Coast. Working conditions on these plantations are awful, and most families are so poverty-stricken that their children are pulled from school (if they could have afforded school) and made to work on chocolate plantations. Children even younger than 10 years old wield machetes and cover fields in pesticides. You can read more about this issue here. Note that our own senator, Tom Harkin, regardless of whether you agree with most of his policies, is one of two senators spearheading legislation to reduce and eliminate the child labor on chocolate plantations.

I love chocolate, but I value human rights. I can’t watch CSI or other crime shows if they have to do with children being mistreated because then that’s all I can think about for days and it makes me sick. So, how can I go on eating chocolate that has been harvested by a starving West African child? I know that my not buying that chocolate won’t solve the problem entirely. I can’t rebuild a war torn nation’s economy by boycotting its exports. I can, however, show my financial support for the type of labor I want to continue so that current conditions don’t last into the future.

I made the flimsy decision not to buy chocolate unless it had been fairly traded and harvested without child labor. However, because of labelling laws, it can be difficult to discern where the chocolate comes from. New Pi sells Guittard semi-sweet mini chocolate chips in bulk, but I can’t get a straightforward answer from the website about whether children harvested the chocolate or if it was fairly traded. They seem like an upstanding company and purchase their chocolate from a variety of places, but I want to be sure.

I thought one way to solve my chocolate dilemma would be to buy carob chips, sold in bulk next to the chocolate chips at New Pi. I had a dessert in mind, so I bought a lot. Tonight, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies to try out the carob chips.

FAIL.

The carob chips didn’t make it into the cookies. Thank goodness the cookies will be edible. The chips might have been okay if I hadn’t been expecting something that tasted like chocolate. They tasted a little like dark chocolate, but in the grossest way possible. These are no longer a part of the solution for me. My cookies now contain Hershey’s chocolate chips. They were my brand of choice before I discovered the slavery issue because they are cruelty-free in respect to animals.

Did you know about this chocolate dilemma before? If not, do you think it will change your buying habits? If so, do you have a new go-to brand that is easily accessible and doesn’t break the bank?

Also, do you want a pound or two of carob chips?
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2 thoughts on “Blood Chocolate OR Carob < Chocolate

  1. My first “run-in” with carob was in jr. high / high school when my mom bought them for me to replace my chocolate chip tooth. I grabbed a handful, popped them in my mouth and proceeded to gag. As for fair trade and all that, I don’t have a good answer. I’ve heard about the chocolate issue, but haven’t done enough research to fully understand it. I will say that Nestle isn’t all that good of a company. There are reasons other than child labor that I dislike them, but I know they aren’t to ashamed to do some bad things in Africa for money.I’ll have to look into this dilemma a little more and in the mean time keep us all posted if you find something.

  2. http://www.foodrevolution.org/slavery_chocolate.htmThis website lists the names of lots of companies that most likely use child labor and Guittard is included on that list. They also listed a lot of companies that don’t use child labor: Clif Bar, Cloud Nine, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Denman Island Chocolate, Gardners Candies, Green and Black’s, Kailua Candy Company, Koppers Chocolate, L.A. Burdick Chocolates, Montezuma’s Chocolates, Newman’s Own Organics, Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company, Rapunzel Pure Organics, and The Endangered Species Chocolate Company

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