Funding Slavery through the Innocent Purchase of Chocolate
Packed into each golden box of sees candies- between the butternut toffee and the key lime truffle- is a slice of slavery. For mother’s day this year you can purchase a ‘specialized’ mommy gift starting at only $18.75. This seems like a great deal for delicious candies, and an adorable keepsake box, but only because it comes at a far greater cost than people are likely aware. The money you have optionally spent is now being invested in the enslavement of people- largely children between the ages of 9 and 13.
In West Africa, where the beloved coco plant is readily grown, thousands of kids are enslaved- literally- to coco plantations where they work under abusive handlers. Children are recruited into the horrors through the promise of small sums of money and luxuries like bicycles. Before they know it they are being forced to carry bags so heavy, their knees wobble so they fall. Upon hitting the ground, these innocent children are not offered a hand-up, or given a wheelbarrow to decrease their load; instead they are only beaten. The risk of escape is death, amputation, or any other punishment the unruly leaders see fit.
It’s easy for us to brush this is off as a foreign issue, a hideous problem but one ‘beneath’ the morals of America. Unfortunately, this passive mentality is based on false ideologies; it’s our very own pocketbooks driving this slave trade. Consider this, 13 billion American dollars are spent on chocolate each year. As always I beg us to question: who’s profiting? Of course the big candy corporations are, enjoying their large profits only increased by the unpaid labor they bite off of
Thanks in part to globalization, we are unable to keep up with where everything we purchase originates, personal funding of child slavery occurs unknowingly as well as unwillingly
The abundance of cacao has made it relatively cheap, decreasing the worth of related labor. In order to make any money, slavery becomes a business decision. When someone is desperate to feed his or her own family, slavery becomes a causality of poverty. Although, big companies like See's Candy and Hershey’s are by no means hurting financially with lucrative upper-level employees like Warren Buffet on board.These companies have the power to pay higher prices to the plantation owners in exchange for fair labor practices.
While See's Candy makes their final stage of candy production visible to the public, they remain extremely discrete about their merchandise origins. Currently under heat, See's Candy would benefit from making visible things such as the supplier of their ‘raw materials.’ The only reason they would remain so private seems obvious, they have something to hide. Many other growing industries, such as Red Envelope, are also receiving failing scores for hiding their means of production as well as refusing to institute ‘labor brokers’ or other methods that prevent slaver; even with yearly revenues of $79 billion. Instead, their actions show they’d rather our money unknowingly support the slavery they thrive off of.
Sees candy and Red Envelope are not the only companies at fault. Visit the reputable 'watch-dog' site: www.free2work.org in order to see which of your favorite brands adopts environmentally and socially responsible ethics!