After watching the documentary, The Darker Side of Chocolate, you may not look at a candy bar the same again. In the film, award-winning Danish journalist Miki Mistrati investigates the manufacturing practices of chocolate in Africa. What he uncovers is astonishing.
His journey takes him to Mali in West Africa, where hidden footage reveals illegal trafficking of small children, as young as seven, to the cocoa fields in neighboring Ivory Coast. Many of the children in these chocolate plantations are unpaid for their long hours (as much as 80 a week) and are subjected unsafe condition such as cutting down cocoa using machetes or hauling heavy materials.
Farms in the Ivory Coast produce more than 40 percent of the world’s cocoa beans making them the largest manufacturers in the world. In 2001, companies like Mars, Nestle and Barry Callebaut signed the Cocoa Protocol promising to help eradicate child labor in the cocoa sector. However in March 2011, a Tulane University—backed by the U.S. government—concluded that more than 1.8 million children in West Africa continue to be involved in cultivating cocoa.
What YOU Can Do
Buy chocolate that has been “Fair-Trade” certified. Many chocolate products will have it listed on the label. If you are unsure, FairTradeUSA.org lists companies producing goods such as grains, body care, coffee, wine, spices vegetables and tea in a way that is humane and fair. For cocoa manufacturers specifically, visit: http://fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/cocoa.
Watch the entire film courtesy of Culture Unplugged.
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