There’s always a day, right before Valentine’s Day, when some jerk shows up to rain all over your love parade.
Well, today’s that day, Willie, and I am that jerk.
Based on my limited understanding of Valentine’s Day, lovers exchange gifts, flowers, and chocolate-y treats, yes?
Is this not what lovers do?
Unfortunately, I’ve been researching the cocoa industry, the billion dollar industry that provides chocolate-y treats for lovers who love chocolate, and… well, we’ve have problems, I’m afraid.
The quick and dirty facts are that the major corporations who sell delicious chocolate-y treats primarily use cocoa beans from plantations in the Ivory Coast, where evidence of trafficking and child slavery has been documented. Children are bused across the borders of neighboring countries and set to work on the plantations, harvesting the beans. I’ve posted “The Dark Side of Chocolate” documentary below for your… er… consumption, and the CNN Freedom Project has a host of posts, not to mention another documentary, Cocoa-nomics, that will air on February 27th.
Major corporations such as Nestle, Hershey, and Ferrero have acknowledged the problem, and have vowed to stamp out child slavery on cocoa plantations by 2020… which, as a cynical child of the 21st century, I’ll have to see to believe (or buy).
In the meantime, there is, of course, nothing wrong with buying chocolate for V-Day and, luckily for you, Fair Trade USA has put together a list of ethically sourced options on their Pinterest board. Ethically sourced chocolate is usually more expensive than the cheap and easily accessible options in your local grocery, but conscience-clear chocolate consumption might be worth it.
Personally, I’m probably going to be eating spaghetti on Valentine’s Day, because I’m really more of a savory than a sweet, but eat what you like, says I.