By Pinto Lokesh |

When most of us think of chocolate the first thing that comes to mind is how good it tastes – smooth, rich and luxurious. Once a rarity that only the rich could afford, chocolate is now sold everywhere, allowing chocolate-lovers to get their hands on it.

A lot of time, energy, effort and many other factors go into making chocolate. The international demand for chocolate is extremely high. Not to mention that only half the work is done by machines.  The other half is done by humans. Why is this such a big deal? 

The supply of chocolate is too great for its price.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 60% of chocolate in the world is produced by cocoa farms that lay in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. These farms often use child-labor in order to fuel the amount of chocolate that is produced.

According to the Washington Post’s article Cocoa’s child laborers, journalists found that big name companies such as Hershey’s, Nestlé, and Mars all purchase their cocoa seeds from farms that use child-labor, even after promising to stop. These companies cannot and do not guarantee that their products don’t use child-labor.

It’s unethical and unfair to make children work as laborers The children and laborers who toil on the cocoa farms face a slew of problems: extremely long workdays, being beaten for not plucking and carrying bags of cacao pods fast enough, handling dangerous tools such as large knives and machetes, and low pay with no benefits. These kids often fall victim to dehydration, breathing in toxic chemicals sprayed on the cacao trees, malnourishment and hurting themselves to make the chocolate we hope to consume. 

The next time you have a chocolate craving, go out and find a bar that says Fairtrade stamped on it. Fairtrade is an institution that is dedicated to making sure that the relationship between producer and buyers meet proper economic, moral and social standards. One of the goals of Fairtrade is to protect workers’ rights and health. As a plus, for a product to meet Fairtrade certification, the usage of forced and child labor is prohibited. 

We might not have the ability to stop the major chocolate giants from completely using child-labor on our own, but we do have the power to slow it down and potentially save more kids from being entrapped in the horrifying cycle of slavery. By not buying from Hershey’s, Mars, Nestlé and other corporations that use child-laborers we could show that as consumers that we do care about where our food comes from and not just the amount of cash we spend. All human beings have the basic rights to be treated as people and not as tools. No matter how good chocolate tastes, it’s not worth the blood, sweat and tears of a child.