As I begin this post, I am thinking about the last time I drove from my home in Kenosha, Wisconsin to the Regency Mall in Racine, Wisconsin. That drive takes me about 20 minutes in good traffic. The population of Kenosha is about 100 thousand people, the population of Racine is about 80 thousand. That’s a lot of people, and I’ve never seen or met most of them. What does my short trip have to do with the 1.8 million reasons to buy organic chocolate? Stay with me, and I promise the connection will become clear to you.
Most of us know by now that organic chocolate, especially organic dark chocolate, has many incredible health benefits including improved athletic performance, positive mood enhancement, etc. If this is the first time you’ve read this, you can learn more by reading Billie Jean’s post, “Five Reasons I Eat Dark Chocolate as a Fitness Food.” Readers of Billie Jean’s and my posts may also know that traditionally grown cocoa is one of the highest pesticide-using crops in the world. And most chocolates are made from this pesticide- and fertilizer-grown cocoa. These pesticides, fertilizers, dyes, and other chemicals used for non-organic chocolate pose serious health risks to chocolate lovers like you and me. And the same chemicals that make non-organic chocolate potentially dangerous to us, damage or destroy the plants, animals, and insects in the cocoa-growing regions of the world.
One would think that these reasons alone would cause most people to only purchase organic chocolate. Unfortunately, most people buy the least expensive and potentially most hazardous chocolates. According to one report, the U.S. chocolate industry is expected to hit $25 billion in 2019.  Sadly, less than 4 percent of the entire global chocolate market is for organic chocolate. 
The Blinders Method
If you’ve read my post, “How to Enjoy Almost Any Brand of Chocolates – The Blinders Method,” then you know that I was implying that people would need to wear blinders to not be aware of the health risks associated with eating non-organic chocolates. And that people might also need to wear matching earmuffs to not hear all the reports of environmental damage and human rights violations associated with cocoa farming in many parts of the world.
But today, I’m not going to go off on a tangent about the health and environmental risks of non-organic chocolate production. It is the other 1.8 million reasons that concern me at this moment. According to the website, “Slave Free Chocolate,” about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa.  About 2.3 million children work in the cocoa fields of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.  And an estimated 1.8 million children are at risk for falling under the Worst forms of Child Labor conditions set by the UN (ILO 182). 
Of course, we will never see or know these children, so why should we care?
Because these are human children being sold like cattle, and we are—or should be–humane adults! That’s why!
OK, sorry about that outburst. It’s just that sometimes I think that everyone really is wearing blinders and earmuffs.
Anyway, back to my trip from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Racine, Wisconsin. As I said above, there are about 180 thousand people in Kenosha and Racine, and I will never see or meet most of them. But they are people just like you and I, so, I care what happens to them.
It’s Difficult to Imagine
As I take this trip in my mind, I imagine what it would feel like if every home in my neighborhood and the neighborhoods I drive through were abandoned. If there were no cars on the roads, no people in the stores I pass, no police officers, no mail carriers, no one for as far as I could see for the entire trip.
I don’t know how many people live within that 20-minute drive. Maybe there several thousand or tens of thousands. But I’m imagining what it would look and feel like if they had all been abducted to work on cocoa plantations. But my imagination does not stop here. Suppose my imaginary trip allowed me to see the distant dwellings of 10 thousand people. The actual number would have probably been much less. Anyway, that number of people would have been 180 times less than the annual number of children at risk of abduction and slavery to work the cocoa plantations. And these children never have and never will taste the chocolate that we take for granted.
I know this ridiculous scenario sounds like something from a low-budget apocalyptic movie. But try for just a minute to see and feel what I do as I write this. If you can feel this, then you have some idea of how many children have been and will be abducted and sold into slavery every year so that the rest of the world can enjoy cheap chocolate.
This Leaves a Disgusting Taste in My Mouth
Now I am far away from being a fitness fanatic, but I do try to buy organic foods whenever possible. If the organic item I want is too expensive, I purchase a different organic item. And I admit that I don’t always buy organic when it comes to local fruits and vegetables.
But even though I love chocolate, the thought of chocolate made with child labor leaves a disgusting taste in my mouth. So, if I want chocolate, I will pay the premium for organic. And there are many compelling reasons to buy organic chocolate:
Organic chocolate is delicious; it is healthier for me; it is healthier for the environment; it s ingredients are grown and harvested without child labor; and it is becoming readily available in most stores.
There is only one reason to eat non-organic chocolate: It is cheaper.
As I have pointed out in several of my posts, chocolate is an indulgence. Yes, chocolate—especially dark chocolate–has many health benefits, but few of us eat chocolate purely for its health benefits. We eat it because it tastes great and makes us feel happy. How many of you can say that chocolate doesn’t make you feel good? Not many? That’s what I thought. So, if you agree that chocolate is primarily an indulgence, shouldn’t we at least consider the 1.8 million children at risk of being forced into slavery if we continue to insist on cheap chocolate.
Lost Sales Gets Attention
I’m not asking you to give up chocolate. And I’m not trying to shame you into doing so. But if you care about reducing the demand for child labor, your shopping habits can make a huge difference.
Most of us realize that we can’t shame large multinational companies into doing the right things for children or the environment. There is too much money at stake. And $25 million a year in chocolate sales is a lot of money. But if each of us takes a small bite out of those sales, these companies will take notice.
Something to Think About
So, whether you buy your chocolate at The Go To Chocolate Store or anywhere else. Please consider the 1.8 million reasons to buy organic.
Sometimes it is difficult to convey in writing the extent and horror of child labor, so I have included a video by A film by Miki Mastrati and U. Roberto Romano called “Documentary. The Dark Side Of Chocolate.” I found this video and several others on the site, Slave Free Chocolate, referenced below. The quality of the video is not great, but the content is invaluable. Please take some time to watch this.
You may also be interested in the following videos:
As always, if you found this article informative and interesting, please take a moment to Share us and Like us on your favorite social media site. And don’t forget to shop our store at: https://thegotochocolatestore.siterubix.com/store/
All the chocolates and coffees at The Go to Chocolate Store are made with organically grown and ethically sourced ingredients.
- Lindell, Crystal. “Mintel: U.S. Chocolate market to hit $25B in 2019.” Candy Industry. 1 April 2015. <https://www.candyindustry.com/articles/86698-mintel-us-chocolate-market-to-hit-25b-in-2019>
- Unknown. “Size of the organic chocolate market worldwide in 2012 and 2018 (in million U.S. dollars).” Statista. 2019. <https://www.statista.com/statistics/429022/global-organic-chocolate-market-size/>
- “Quick Cocoa Facts.” Slave Free Chocolate. 2019. <http://www.slavefreechocolate.org/children-slavery-cocoa>
- “Home.” Slave Free Chocolate. 2019. < http://www.slavefreechocolate.org/>