Opinion: Fair-trade chocolate is a better solution



Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor is a freshman journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

I am currently taking a speech course, Introduction to Human Communication. We have recently begun presenting our persuasive speeches, and they were quite compelling. There were several fascinating subjects I never thought about being an issue in today’s society. There was one speech that I felt compelled to write about — child slavery and buying fair-trade chocolate.

The term fair-trade chocolate took on a whole new meaning once I learned about the slave labor of African children used to harvest cocoa beans. Many of us eat these chocolates on a daily or weekly basis, and most of us have no idea what we are contributing to. I will admit I was eating Kit Kats, Snickers and Crunch Bars galore all through the Halloween season. Before this speech, I did not know these major companies were using children to harvest the cocoa beans that produce this chocolate.

In West African countries along the Ivory Coast, 600,000 children have been working on farms, according to Change.org. The Ivory Coast alone produced about 1.5 million tons of cocoa beans in 2011, according to Thinkafricapress.com. Nestle primarily receives its chocolate from the Ivory Coast. Some children who currently work on cocoa plantations were forced while others were victims of human trafficking. A 10-year-old named Abdul from Daloa, Ivory Coast, was lured into slavery at the age of 7. He was promised a better life after his parents passed away but instead received a life of hard work and pain.

As children, most of us played with friends, went to school and participated in extracurricular activities. Life might not have been perfect, but children across the world were deprived of the experiences we found simple or normal. These experiences could have been life-changing for them, but they never received the opportunity. Children like Abdul work from a young age, with no hopes of having a better life.

Fair trade was organized to help producers and farmers in developing countries to reduce poverty and create sustainability. Fair-trade chocolate can be a bit more expensive than non-fair-trade chocolate, but it is worth the money. Fair-trade chocolate is also better for you because it is organic, which means it has no added preservatives or sugars. The fair-trade chocolate bars can range from $3 to about $100. Unfortunately, eating healthy does cost more in this country, but most organic food stores in our area will have fair-trade chocolate bars from $3 to $5 in the checkout lines. This method produces a more stable economy for developing countries, does not support child slave labor and is a healthier option for your chocolate cravings.