Saturday, October 27, 2012

Food: Chocolate

I have learned so much about food the past 27 days.

I've watched some really well done documentaries on GMOs, Juicing, how our food is processed, etc.  I even attended a two hour class on Ayurveda, a form of traditional medicine out of India that focuses on when and what we eat.

Each of these experiences have been alarming to some extent.  I'm starting to change what I eat based on where it comes from and how it was produced.  Even chocolate.

Granted, I'm not even eating chocolate this month.  Can you imagine if I made room for it in my 7 foods, though?  I would've eaten it.  A lot of it.

Anyway, I just watched a 5-part series called "Chocolate: The Bitter Truth."  This is especially relevant considering Halloween is just days away and chocolate sales are soaring.  The top chocolate suppliers in the world (Nestle, Cadbury, Hershey's, to name a few) are guilty of using forced child labor to harvest cocoa beans and we, as chocolate connoisseurs, are guilty of supporting it.

The short story is this:

The African countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana, are the top two producers in the world of cocoa beans, respectively.  The climate is ideal and the labor is cheap.  Cocoa plantations use child labor to harvest their beans.  This means kids as young as 8 years old work in the fields from 6am - 4pm.  They are climbing trees barefooted and using 2 foot-long machetes to cut open the pods.  Many children have been trafficked from poor villages and do not have the opportunity to attend school.  Meanwhile, chocolate companies are netting 80 billion dollars.

Start here, with this article published in January 2012 by CNN: The Freedom Project.
UNICEF estimates that nearly a half-million children work on farms across Ivory Coast, which produces nearly 40% of the world’s supply of cocoa. The agency says hundreds of thousands of children, many of them trafficked across borders, are engaged in the worst forms of child labor.

Read this blog post about why most church's "Fall Festivals" are scary, even without the scary costumes.
Can you imagine the impact on the chocolate industry if every American church and church goer said "No" to chocolate made by child slaves this Halloween?  In our community, there is a growing list of organizations, businesses, and churches hosting Halloween events or Fall Festivals.  At each of these events candy will be handed out to guests.  Eighty percent of the events planned in our community are organized by local churches.  When it comes to Halloween, I think it's fair to say the church is one of the largest consumers of chocolate and will hand out more chocolate on Halloween than businesses or other organizations in America. 

Then, you've got to watch this documentary; it's split up into five short segments:

Lastly, go eat some chocolate.  The GOOD stuff. :)

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