Dark Side

Our chocolate is sweet (well, sometimes semi- or bittersweet).

It is important, nevertheless, to keep in mind those times when it also causes sadness to see if there are was in which we can reduce the world’s misery. For a full context of the world of cacao, please consider (and think about how you personally can rectify or at least mitigate some of the sadness that accompanies it into this world.

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While not dark side as in real life, thanks to the imagination of Matthew Weiner and his Mad Men, there is an incredible darkness that fall upon the lightest, loveliest story ever told of chocolate as the currency of love:

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Discovery Channel provides a history that does touch on some of the bad within the context of its generally upbeat salutation to chocolate.

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CNN’s Freedom Project returned to the Ivory Coast to see what had changed from an earlier visit where they found child slave labor in the cacao fields

Their efforts included talking with a farmer who had been cultivating cacao for years without ever tasting the final product, taking a wide look at current child slavery among the trees and even followed it up with a panel discussion

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The 2010 documentary, “The Dark Side of Chocolate,” details child trafficking and labor in the Ivory Coast and other West Africa sources of much of the First World’s cacao. Documentary below; more info at The Dark Side of Chocolate.

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On the eve of Valentines Day 2013 OxfamAmerica issued a report detailing how the cultivation and creation of chocolate aids in the deprivation of some third world women. Elizabeth Plank expanded on the issue for Policymic.

Under the slogan Food Is Power, The Food Empowerment Project has detailed (mostly child) slavery in Africa‘s chocolate industry and also lists the chocolate manufacturers they’ve been in touch with and the companies’ response to the issue.

3 July 2012: The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has mapped the supply chain for Nestlé chocolate and the multi-billlion Euro Swiss multinational has responded to the damning evidence of the evil backstory of cheap and dear chocolate.

Everyone agrees it is tragic when a million-plus kids work excessive hours and often suffer machete-induced injuries. So, even as they have and continue to gain from the exploitation, good for Nestlé for offering some transparency into how cacao morphs from pod to chocolate bar … and better still if they really do follow through on their vow to put an end to the malevolent background of a sweet taste (which, hopefully, will force all chocolate producers in the $90 billion-a-year-industry to follow suit) in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and throughout West Africa.

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Semisweet Debuts: CHOCOLATE is where local and global merge, at least in the story Canadian documentarians Michael Allock and Lalita Krishna just debuted on Ontario Public Television channel TVO. The pitch for Semisweet: Life in Chocolate is, “If you thought chocolate was just candy … think again.”

Sadly, in their detailing of four chocolate-themed stories across three continents, More …

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CNN began a 19 Jan. 2012 report on the sadness of children “helping” on cocoa farms across the Ivory Coast:

Chocolate’s billion-dollar industry starts with workers like Abdul. He squats with a gang of a dozen harvesters on an Ivory Coast farm.

Abdul holds the yellow cocoa pod lengthwise and gives it two quick cracks, snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He dumps the beans on a growing pile.

Abdul is 10 years old, a three-year veteran of the job.

He has never tasted chocolate.

Somewhere there is a line that separates helping in the field and child labor, and child labor and slavery. Sadly, as the report makes clear, both lines have been crossed.

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