The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 5, 2010

Your View: Avoid slave-trade chocolate

Betty Winkworth,
The Free Press

MANKATO — Perhaps you haven’t seen the YouTube videos or other reports of the child slaves in the Ivory Coast harvesting cocoa beans (complete with beatings and inhumane conditions). Unfortunately, I have, and I can no longer look at my favorite chocolate bars in the same way — not with the Ivory Coast supplying 43 percent of the world’s chocolate.

The usual “but what can I do?” actually has some possibilities. For one, I can support the review of trade agreements that is proposed in the House’s TRADE Act of 2009 (thank you, co-sponsor Rep. Tim Walz) that is now circulating in the Senate.

Secondly, I can buy Fair Trade chocolate because to get the Fair Trade label growers cannot use abusive labor practices. There’s another bonus. A Fair Trade price includes some money to help small farms and co-operatives make improvements in their communities for schools, clinics or infrastructure.

Thirdly, I can turn over any candy bar, find an address for the manufacturer on the back, and write a letter. We in America need to ask big candy makers like Mars, Nestle, Lindt and Hershey to quit dodging the slave labor and Fair Trade chocolate issues.

In European countries, some of these same makers are using Fair Trade chocolate because of consumer pressure. We, too, should have access to more affordable options of slave-free, Fair Trade chocolates.