Make Room for Fair Trade Chocolate

I’ve learned two undeniable truths in college: first, chocolate is necessary for life, especially late-night essay-writing; and second, there is a huge but largely invisible human trafficking market in our country.

While these two statements may at first appear unrelated, they are intricately connected through the web of child labor used to cultivate and harvest the cocoa plant. Up to half of the chocolate produced in the United States—including many of the largest chocolate producers in the United States, such as Hershey’s, Nestle, Russell Stover, and Cadbury—source their cocoa from plantations in West Africa where children are exploited for the production of chocolate.

As advocates for justice, we must change our consumer habits in light of that knowledge. But as a (broke) college student who both loves to eat and bake with chocolate, I understand that fighting human trafficking through purchasing decisions is difficult. Fair trade chocolate is pricey. But it’s nowhere near impossible.

Here are a few tips to help you use your resources with wisdom and love, while still enjoying the miracle that is chocolate:

  1. Check labels. Look for Fair Trade certified products, which ensure that the producers receive the worth of their labor.
  2. Find retailers that sell fair trade chocolate. Try Whole Foods or online markets, such as AlterEco or Equal Exchange. Visit this list for more retailers.
  3. Cut back. Reduce some unnecessary daily expenses (like maybe your Starbucks habit) to make room for fair trade versions of necessary expenses (like maybe chocolate).
  4. Sacrifice for justice. If your wallet still protests, then painful as it may be—perhaps it’s time to simply give up a bit of chocolate for the sake of justice.

Written by Ann Wang

FBfair trade, chocolate