February 14, 2013

Not Buying Valentines Day or Slave Chocolate

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.


  1. Megumi2/14/2013

    Your posting always give me different point of view and inspire me. Thank you.

    1. Hey Megumi, we are glad you are with us on this journey.

  2. I am embarrassed to say I was not aware of this. I do not consume very much chocolate since it gives me migraines, but when I do I will look for the fair trade symbol. it is exhausting and disheartening to me that we as consumers have to police everything we consume, wear, or use. Shouldn't there be laws against this? What happened to human rights? it is so sad that as people who live in such rich countries that we feel so entitled to en fringe not only on the lives of adults but children as well.
    My husband and I have always felt that Valentines Day is a very insincere holiday and do not celebrate it. We do make heart crafts with our son but everything we do with him is always done in a very noncommercial way, as much as possible.

    MarieG lifesimplybalanced.com

    1. It seems that if it is profitable to do so, many businesses will quickly turn to the dark side. You are right that it is increasingly difficult to ethically source just about anything these days. Fair trade is a good way to go.

      Things are so tainted that it is easier just to live without stuff, but even then it is hard to get away from entirely.

      Hearts to you and your family.

  3. Anonymous2/14/2013

    Recently I filled out a survey at slaveryfootprint.org. I was shocked that I employ 20 slaves, even living a minimal life being mindful of fairtrade and slavery. This website also explains other areas where slavery is being used through out the world. Well worth checking out.

    1. Hey Miss Marla, thanks for the eye-opening link. It is amazing the impact that we have in consumeristic nations, even as you say, when we live a minimal life.

      But it is good to know that the less you consume, the lighter your impact on the world around you. That is what motivates me to see how little I can be content with. Life is good with stuff - life is great without it.

      Less stuff, less slavery? Yes, but we also have to use our laws (and our voices) to help banish human as well as environmental exploitation.


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