Easter - the season of chocolate egg consumption - is only two weeks away. Soon, children all over the country will be excitedly stomping on lovingly raised daisy beds to get their hands on the Easter Bunny's sweet givings. Yet while Easter brings chocolaty smiles to the faces of our kids, sadly this isn't the case for the children working on cocoa farms along the Ivory Coast of West Africa.
It's estimated that approximately 800,000 children are enslaved on cocoa farms along the Ivory Coast, from where nearly half of the world's cocoa supply is sourced (although child slavery isn't isolated to this region alone).
The children are either sold by impoverished families or stolen. They're forced to work for little to no pay and receive no schooling nor (what is often the case) enough food. They're forced to work with dangerous machetes and pesticides with no protective clothing. It's grim but it's reality. And it's time we face up to it. As consumers, we can actually do our bit to help. It's relatively easy - buy Good chocolate.
By 'Good' chocolate we mean chocolate made of ingredients sourced from ethical and sustainable farms, where farm workers are consensual adults who are paid a fair price and work under fair conditions and the environment is looked after as best as possible.
By purchasing this sort of chocolate, we let manufacturers know that we're savvy consumers who don't want to buy into unethical or unsustainable practices. In conjunction with the advocacy work that organisations such as World Vision
do, our purchasing decisions will make a difference
Good chocolate does exist. (Thank FRUIT it exists because we do love our chocolate.) Here's our guide:
A Guide to Good Chocolate
These are chocolate brands that, in most cases, are both Fairtrade and Organic. This means not only are they assuring fair prices for farmers and no child slavery, they are also assuring good environmental practices. You'll find them at most health food and specialty food stores:
Cocolo, both Fairtrade and Organic
Alter Eco, both Fairtrade and Organic
This is our staff favourite. The mint variety is the Bomb!!!!!!
Rawsome, Organic, dairy and gluten free
Another staff favourite!! Chocolatier Floyd Millar featured in our cookbook The Sustainable Table and his chocolate is truly remarkably delicious.
Are there any others?
The selection above is our picks and we like them best for speaking to both ethical and environmental concerns. However, we understand you may be at a loss if you can't source these brands near you, so check out the lists below for more options (Aldi's Just Organics, Fairtrade and Organic, included):
Other guides to fairtrade/palm oil free/organic chocolate:
But they're not Easter Eggs....
No, they're not. But they are still chocolate. If you'd really like to keep to the moulded chocolate tradition, you can DIY chocolate Easter eggs, Bilbies and the like by melting chocolate and pouring into moulds bought at any good kitchenwares retailer. Here's a set of easy-to-follow instructions
. You can get even more creative and make your own cheesecake filled eggs
using your DIY fairtrade choc eggs (same same as 'Cadbury Creme' eggs, but better):
Try making your own chocolate
Want to know more?
If you're only just learning about the issue and want to find out more, we recommend the following resources:
A documentary about the cocoa trade:
More information on the Fairtrade label
Further reading on child slavery in the cocoa trade