Fair Trade Your Easter: Actions for an Ethical Easter

Every-Bunny Loves Fair Trade Chocolate

In the United States, Easter is a major chocolate buying holiday, and an excellent opportunity to show your support for Fair Trade. In fact, more chocolate is sold in the US at Easter than any other time of the year, second only to Halloween.

Why is buying fair trade chocolate important? Right now, the African Ivory Coast is the source of 75% of America’s chocolate. There are over 600,000 cocoa farms in Ivory Coast that are very poor. The U.S. State Department estimates that over 15,000 child-slaves work on plantations in the Ivory Coast alone. They have been kidnapped or sold by their parents to work from age 8 and on, cutting cocoa pods from trees and processing them, often at the end of a whip.

In other countries of West Africa, some other 269,000 children work with machetes and deadly chemicals, applying pesticides and fungicides to trees without wearing protective garments and without proper training. These children are required to work in slave-like conditions, beaten regularly, and are forced to work over 12-hour days. There is limited or no schooling available to them and once at the farms, they are unable to leave. Amazingly, some of the cocoa used in popular confections – the chocolate you eat every day – is grown and harvested under such conditions.

The chocolate industry claims to have no involvement in the wage slavery and child slavery practices occurring in the Ivory Coast nation. However, 70% of their cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast and they’ve made no moves to procure fair trade cocoa sources. Here is a breakdown of the path traveled: The cocoa is grown on small cocoa plantations. Ivory Coast middle-men purchase the cocoa at a pittance, then sell it to the four corporate exporting companies: Cargill, Archer-Daniels Midland, Barry Callbaut, and Saf-Cacao. These four exporters then turn around and sell the cocoa to the many name-brand chocolate-producing companies we all know so well.

Fair Trade certification guarantees that you are not an unwilling participant of this very inhumane practice. Fair Trade Certified cocoa only comes from certified farmers’ cooperatives, organized to strengthen their farmer-members economically so they can provide for their families and educate their children. Fair Trade certification is a guarantee to processors, handlers, retailers and consumers, that the cocoa beans used in this chocolate were produced in a way that does no social harm.

Use this opportunity to send a letter to large chocolate corporations, on behalf of workers and children on cocoa farms in West Africa, asking them to start sourcing fair trade chocolate for their confections. You can also make this an educational Easter activity for your kids or Sunday school class – have them color a picture to send to Hershey’s with a hand-written note asking them to stop sourcing chocolate that uses forced child labor. Or use this coloring page created by the “Raise the Bar, Hershey!” Campaign.

Send it to:
The Hershey Company
Attn: David West, CEO
100 Crystal A Drive
Hershey, PA 17003

Increase the demand for fair trade chocolate by buying from companies that are already committed to using fair trade ingredients in their chocolate. You can choose from two of our favorite fair trade chocolate bars, classic Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate With Strawberries, from our Fair Trade certified partners Divine Chocolate, on the Seven Hopes United online fair trade store.

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