I'm all about love. The world would be a better place if we had more of it. Valentines day however, is a sick scam that launches a full frontal assault on amorous couples looking to score some points on this 'special day'.
If the goal was to spread love 365 days a year, that would be cool. But it is not. The goal is to get money out of your pocket, plain and simple. And the pressure to spend is great. In many places it has become a cultural expectation or obligation to spend on loved ones.
Everyone, including grade school children, are expected to invest in a little love, and do so unquestioningly.
And what is the main way to "show your love" besides cheesy will-you-be-mine cards? Giving a gift of chocolate made by child and slave labour is quite popular.
"Children are doing dirty, dangerous, and degrading work in the chocolate industry,” says Cheryl Hotchkiss, manager of World Vision’s End Child Slavery campaign. “They get hurt swinging machetes to cut down cacao pods. They get sick from pesticides and toil in extreme heat with little pay, poor nutrition, and no health care. They’re separated from their families and can even be abused by employers.”
Approximately 2 million children, some as young as 8 years old, are involved in cacao farming worldwide, the majority in West Africa.
95% of the chocolate consumed in the world is not certified and will soil your hands in more ways than one if you choose to buy it along with the thinly veiled marketing love fest that we know as V-day.
Here are some things you can do to ensure that your chocolate isn't tainted by child and slave labour, or toxic processes.
Getting Rid of Dirty Chocolate
1. Look for chocolate with labels such as the Fair Trade label and the IMO Fair for Life label.
2. Contact the big chocolate companies like Hershey’s - tell them you expect them to prove their chocolate is not tainted by child labor and slave labor.
3. Contact your elected officials. If big chocolate can’t monitor their own supply chains, we need to go back to the drawing board and demand laws that prevent slave-produced chocolate from hitting the shelves of stores.
The people who produce the raw materials for our chocolate treats deserve fair wages and safe working conditions. African children shouldn’t have to suffer unspeakable horrors just so we can enjoy a treat.
Buy fair trade/organic chocolate, then indulge in a bit to celebrate limitlessly loving every single day of the year.
Find ethical chocolate where you live on the ChocoFinder website.