Throughout my life but especially as a child, I enjoyed chocolate. My brother loved it even more — chocolate milk, Hershey`s syrup, perfectly dark ice cream, and peanut butter and brown candy cups. I remember eating fresh chocolate chip cookies from the store (Albertson's) and on Halloween, dumping my collected candy on our kitchen floor to then trade.
These memories are curated moments from picture-perfect childhoods. They are sweetened to perfection by the use of chocolate delights and laughter.
However, this is not the same for everyone and especially the child laborers within the cacao/cocoa/chocolate industry.
Cacao, commonly referred to as cocoa, is responsible for the creation of chocolate, and primarily comes from West African countries. The popular demand and immense need from big-name companies have driven a demand for cheap labor. This work can include carrying toxic chemicals, sharp blades, and other forms of intense manual labor.
Many children, some as young as 5, are promised by recruiters and family members they will find both education and sufficient money to support their family at these farms. In reality, they will find neither.
Some of these children earn less than $2 for a day's work.
What will the chocolate industry look like if it included only fair trade labor? Fair trade labor is an exchange between companies in developed countries, and producers in developing countries, in which fair prices are paid to the producers. Nearly seven years ago, Hershey made a commitment to become 100% fair trade by 2020. However, over these last seven years, they have missed their marks in soon achieving this. Less than 80% of their cocoa is actually traceable meaning the source or if children farmed the chocolate is unknown. On the other hand, Hershey is not the only chocolate brand responsible for child labor.
Hershey's, Godiva, Nestle, Fowler's, and Mars are among the top companies for child labor.
The sad reality is this issue will probably worsen. Little coverage over the years has covered this and many have attempted to keep it this way. Franco-Canadian journalist Guy-Andre Kieffer was investigating child labor in the Ivory Coast when he disappeared and is now presumed dead. Many others have been threatened or warned off from reporting.
We all can admit chocolate is a delicious treat — although, it definitely comes with a hidden price beyond the one paid at the checkout counter. This Halloween, you can do your part and help out against this. "Reverse Trick Or Treat" is an idea proposed by the Slave-Free Chocolate Organization where people give out both cards detailing this during Halloween and/or give out non-chocolate candy instead. "You shouldn't have to worry that the chocolate you eat might contain cocoa cultivated or harvested by a child" but now that you know, you should.