Last week, a coterie of environmental and human rights organizations including Oxfam, the International Labor Rights Forum, and Stop the Traffik issued their annual Cocoa Barometer, which takes a hard look at the labor and environmental costs of the worldwide chocolate industry. Its results are striking and, frankly, make me never want to eat chocolate again.
As of now, cocoa is a slash-and-burn crop, which, coupled with a high global demand for chocolate, has wreaked havoc on West African forests. But even in the face of this high demand, most cocoa farmers still earn significantly less than a living wage. Moreover, the report found that the number of child laborers on West African cocoa farms is around 2.1 million, and that, “despite more than a decade of efforts, child labor is widespread” throughout the industry. Even more damningly, the report added, “Not a single company or government is anywhere near reaching the sector-wide objective of the elimination of child labor, and not even near their commitments of a 70% reduction of child labor by 2020.”
If after reading this, you still feel a need to indulge in some chocolate and not write an angry letter to The Hershey Company, here’s a list of chocolate companies committed to ethical sourcing.