Chocolate. For many of us, the sight, aroma and tongue coating decadence are enough to send the brain’s pleasure receptors into overdrive. Seemingly always prized, it has been used over hundreds of years as an offering in religious ceremonies, a currency, and often reserved for the ruling elite. Interest in chocolate often borders on obsession, so much so, that the botanical name for the cacao plant, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the Gods.” Those who testified to the chocolate gospel helped spread it around the world and it has since come to bring simple pleasure to citizens far and wide, high and low across the planet.
Sadly, however, there is a dark side to chocolate that many consumers are often blissfully unaware of, or deliberately chose to ignore. Cacao is grown predominantly on small family farms in a narrow tropical band around the equator. While a handful of massive global corporations control and profit handsomely from the worldwide chocolate trade, millions of cacao farmers and their families toil in poverty year after year and deforestation is widespread. Worse still, child slavery tragically persists, despite reputable international reports that surfaced over a decade ago–in particular highlighting the world’s largest exporter of cocoa, the Ivory Coast. Read more