The high cost of our Easter chocolate - Food for thought

Easter is one of those celebrations that I feel is really taken for granted these days. The meaning is forgotten and most people can't even be bothered to take the time to go to church or spend time with their families. However, there is one tradition that everyone still loves and seems to take part in and that is the giving and receiving of chocolate eggs. Most of us these days are swamped with chocolate at Easter, but how often do we stop and think where it comes from? I know I don't think about it!

Although we all love chocolate, I feel like something that is not thought about when chomping through a bar of Galaxy is where our chocolate comes from. The corruption in the cocoa industry is nowadays, often ignored and the problems surrounding the production of chocolate pushed to the back of our minds. 

Slavery and human trafficking in the cocoa industry is something that has been talked about for a while, with large companies like Nestle, being repeatedly sued for their use of slaves on cocoa plantations. Nestle, Hershey, Mars, Kraft to name a few have all been known to profit from their use of slaves keeping the price of labour down on cocoa plantations. 

These plantations in Ghana and the Ivory coast support and facilitate the kidnap and traffic children from countries like Malawi promising them jobs in the town. These children some as young as 6 are then sent to work on plantations without ever getting paid for their work. This, in turn, keeps the price of the cocoa bean low enough that people in the UK and other Western countries can guzzle down an average of 11kg of chocolate a year. 

Read more: Nestlé, Cargill and ADM are currently facing a separate lawsuit brought by three Malian former child slaves in 2005 that accuses the companies of aiding and abetting child slavery in Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa market.

On these plantations, these children face a life of poverty away from their families and subject to gross human rights abuses. The corruption within the industry is deep-rooted within the government and their collusion with these big international food companies. 

These companies even admit on their websites that they may use slaves in the production of their chocolate goods, yet people still continue to buy them. As someone who has boycotted Nestle all my life it really bothers me that people still buy their products. 

Another issue surrounding the production of cheap cocoa is the large amounts of deforestation that occur especially in West Africa. Areas of tropical forest are cleared inside national parks and classified forests. Short term this can lead to more money for local people; but long term to the destruction of any woodland leads to a massive loss of biodiversity, floods, droughts and desertification. 

The best way to incite change in the industry is to boycott a brand and stop giving them your money to send a very clear message; I feel like it is hypocritical for us to all celebrate Easter and forget the messages that Jesus preached to the world. I don't think most Christians who will be celebrating Easter this year will be really thinking about this, but it is important to remember that what we buy has an impact on peoples lives all over the world. 

There are other choices out there even in the supermarket/ high-street. Brands like Hotel Chocolat that have their own plantations in St.Lucia where they pay farmers well for the beans and have stricter regulations. Other brands like Divine and Booja Booja are easily found and offer a choccy choice that means a much less unethical supply chain and more money for the farmers who grow our cocoa. We are so lucky that we have a choice in what we buy and we all have the power to do good and create real change in the world.

I hope everyone is having a lovely Easter, spending time with their families as I am and getting excited about spring. 

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