Halloween should be fun for kids and chocolate should be a treat. But an unfair marketing system leads many cacao farmers to struggle to earn a decent living and to rely on child labor to survive.

For many years, major chocolate companies have pledged to end child labor and to pay higher prices for cocoa such that children do not have to work and can devote more time to their schooling. Their pledges ring hollow and the low prices that major companies pay for cocoa have persisted.

Year after year, they deliver tons of cheap chocolate to store shelves. Theirs is a model built on the backs of farmers and their children.

The treatment of workers in the cocoa industry is an injustice we must fight. There are ways to vet a chocolate brand’s ethics by identifying websites that share current lists of ethical chocolate companies. Such websites include Slave Free Chocolate, The Good Shopping Guide, Fairtrade America, and Fair Trade Certified.

You can impact what brands stores choose to fill their valuable shelf space by purchasing ethical chocolate and avoiding the unethical brands that promised so much and delivered so little. Look for chocolate with a fair-trade certification on the wrapper and transparency about the company’s supply chain on its website.

A few to look for are Fair Trade Certified, Fair for Life, and Rainforest Alliance Certified Cocoa.

You can help end abuse in the cocoa industry by writing to your favorite chocolate companies, by demanding that they start improving the fairness of their cocoa supply chains and by asking for a written response to your inquiry.

Ethical chocolate — how sweet it is.

Paulette Bertrand

Mankato

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