I've heard about the chocolate issues but have lacked concrete info to really watch my consumer habits... here's some I found that might help...
An award-winning filmmaker/photographer, sponsored by the Washington, DC-based International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF), has just returned from West Africa after conducting filmed interviews with six young men currently living in Mali who are plaintiffs in a suit in US Court in Los Angeles. The men are former child slaves who had been trafficked as 14/-15 year-olds to Ivory Coast and forced to work on cocoa plantations.
The photographer also interviewed and took pictures of children currently working on cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast.
KNOW WHAT CHOCOLATE YOU ARE EATING, KNOW WHAT IT SUPPORTS:
One-third of Nestle's chocolate is from West Africa, where over 286,000 children have been reported working in slave conditions on cocoa (chocolate) farms. Nestle promotes genetically engineered foods while claiming "the Fair Trade approach is not a solution." learn more
Nestlé is the largest food manufacturer and chocolate company in the world with over $65 billion in annual sales. Fair Trade Certification, which guarantees a modest minimum price of $.80 per pound, would establish a "floor" or minimum price that Nestlé could easily afford to pay, thus providing a fair price to small farmers, a subsistence wage for cocoa plantation workers, and an end to the practice of child slavery.
Dole is the largest cut-flower producer in the world, the majority of which is imported from Columbia and Ecuador where low paid farmworkers are exposed to 127 different chemicals, including neurotoxins and carcinogens. Studies show 60% of these long-term workers have signs of early cancer.
David H. Murdock, Dole's CEO, is ranked by Forbes as one of the wealthiest men in the world. If you took the amount Dole pays all of its thousands of international floral farm workers, per year, and multiplied it times 100 years, you'd still have less than the amount that Mr. Murdock is "worth" (over $2 billion), yet he refuses to have the company invest in paying its farmers liveable wages.
Dole is also responsible for union busting in Columbia (firing union supporters).
Wal-Mart is the largest retailer of cut-flowers in the United States, the majority of which come from Dole. Wal-Mart is also one of the largest retailers of Valentine's chocolate candies, mainly sourced from Nestle, Mars, and Hershey.
Wal-Mart's 1,713 stores do not sell or support Fair Trade or organic chocolates or flowers.
While Wal-Mart, the world's largest corporation, rakes in over $250 billion in sales each year, the average pay for a Wal-Mart sales associate is $1,000 below the poverty line for a family of three, and the company is now well known for outsourcing its production to sweat shops.
M&Ms/Mars Inc. has been accused of buying from contractors who utilize child labor and child slavery on cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast.
M&M/Mars Inc. is the third wealthiest private company in the United States. The three private owners of the company are each "worth" $10.4 billion, while the West African farmers actually growing the cocoa for M&Ms chocolate make a baseline income of only $108 annually. M&M/Mars Inc. continues to report record profits while flat out refusing to consider Fair Trade.
West African Cocoa Farming
* Estimated number of cocoa farms in West Africa:
1.2 - 1.5 Million
* Average size of cocoa farms in West Africa:
* Average number of family members who live on a cocoa farm:
* Number of people in West Africa who live on cocoa farms:
* Amount of cocoa produced worldwide each year:
3 Million Tons
* Percentage of world cocoa supply that comes from West Africa: