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♪♪ Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar ♪♪ I bet there isn’t a soul out there that doesn’t know this jingle. Not only is it catchy, but if you are a chocolate lover, you probably want to go out and buy some chocolate now. While having a candy bar now and then may seem like an innocent indulgence, it is time we stop and consider the price, the true price of where our favorite foods are coming from.

It is time we eat ethical and become mindful of the companies whose pockets we, as consumers, line. I wanted to wait to make this post as I want to provide more information and sources on Thinking Bold to help you buy ethically. However, nothing is ever perfect. And this is too important to wait. Soon, I will have loads more sources on the site for you to reference.

What is ethical eating?

It is simple, ethical eating means that you are doing your due diligence to ensure the foods you are eating are ethical sourced. This means that there is no child labor in the production of the goods, they pay all workers a livable wage, environmental impacts are at a minimum, fair treatment of animals, and for me, contain no animal products. Whether or not you are vegan, you can still eat ethical. Some may disagree with this, but to each is own. I would prefer a non-vegan buy meat and other animal products from a small farm that treats their food animals well, then a big business farm that is abusing animals.

For many years, we have been under the persuasion of big companies who have millions to invest in marketing. This marketing sends you to the store to buy their products. It isn’t enough to buy “organic” or even “vegan” products. Vegan means it contains zero animal products, but it doesn’t mean there is fair labor or adequate working conditions. My goal here is to bring awareness to all without a vegan agenda.

The Chocolate Industries

I began my research into ethically sourced foods after watching a Netflix documentary on Bitter Chocolate. It was very eye opening and left me not wanting to eat chocolate anymore. I am a chocolate lover, so I wanted to seek companies where I could still buy chocolate.

Here are some quick facts I found from Slave Free Chocolate, a great resource for finding information on the chocolate industry and a full list of companies that are ethically source their cocoa.

  • 5 to 6 million cocoa farmers world wide
  • 40 to 50 million people depend on cocoa for their livelihood
  • 70 % of cocoa comes from West Africa
  • Cocoa growing regions: Africa, Asia, Central America, South America (all within 20 degrees of the equator).
  • Current global market value of annual crop: 5.1 billion dollars.
  • Estimated 1.8 million children are at risk for falling under the Worst forms of Child Labor conditions set by the UN (ILO 182).
  • There are over 27 million slaves in the world today. Of them over 9 million are children.
  • Children are being trafficked in everyday to work on cocoa farms as slaves. The average cost for a child is $250.
  • The candy companies admitted that they knew this was a problem and promised to fix it. But they didn’t.

The big chocolate companies have made claims that they are making efforts to end child slavery, yet they still cannot definitively state where their chocolate comes from. The Côte d’Ivoire on the African Ivory Coast produces over 40% of the worlds crop, many coming from small holders. 40% of the populations of Côte d’Ivoire is in the cocoa farming industry and the total earnings for this region. This is a brutal market, driven by big money companies that bring these farmers to desperate measures to produce goods and save their land. To pay living wages and end child slavery, the chocolate companies would need to shell out upwards of 10 times more than they do now. This might mean you pay a bigger price tag for your chocolate, but I would say it is well worth it.

Below is a list of companies that only use ethically sourced cocoa. I encourage you to support these companies, instead of the big companies that we all know and have grown up with. It is time for change.

This list are companies that have gone beyond using ethically sourced cocoa and have supported marketing campaigns to bring awareness to the growing problems in the chocolate industry.

Ethically Sourced Cocoa Companies

Beyond Chocolate

This issue touches many of the popular goods we purchase. The problem doesn’t end with the cocoa industry. There are problems in the production of bananas, coffee, palm oil, and the meat and dairy industries to name a few. Bananas, for example, is easily the world’s favorite fruit. There is a high demand for them, unfortunately this high demand brings on the greed of the companies that are profiting from it. This demand, and greed, has a heavy impact on the farms that produce them. These issues range from human rights to environmental impacts. It isn’t sustainable. Banana producers and distributors, Dole, Del Monte, and Chiquita are at the heart of the corruption. The only recommended source I have found are bananas through Equal Exchange unless you can grow your own or buy directly from a small local farm.

The list goes on with other goods, and the issues are the same. I have been reading non-stop to educate myself on the issues. I have found great resources on The Food Empowerment Project, Slave Free Chocolate, and wage data collection I have been using Our World in Data.

Coming Soon!

I am creating a section on Thinking Bold dedicated to ethical eating, but moreover, ethical consumerism. This goes way beyond the food we eat, it is in the products we buy. Even in a world of veganism, I am finding companies capitalizing on the newfound popularity of this way of living and are using in unethical products, such as Candelilla Wax in place of beeswax. My eyes are wide open and I feel a responsibility to bring more awareness to this.

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