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The Chocolate Industry's Dirty Secret: Child Labor

  • Thread starter Lanky Livingston
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Lanky Livingston

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Something to think about this Halloween before buying your candy.

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If you spend four minutes with my children, you will know that Halloween is in 29 days. This is because they are children, and who wouldn’t love a holiday that involves dressing up like beloved characters, animals, or icons and collecting candy in a bag? Dress up plus sweets? Sign me up, they say.

Well, despite how I feel about the holiday (ahem—keeping a jar of candy each per kid; giving the rest away while we recover for the next three days), it’s a fun way to get out in the community, enjoy the fall, and create family memories. I just go with it.

But I’m gonna pull back the curtain behind the wizard here for this month’s Intellectual Grownup post, and it’s one of those inconvenient truths that I wish we could ignore. But we can’t. Because friends, it’s real, it’s rampant, and not enough well-meaning families know about the reality behind their shiny-foiled wrappers.

The far majority of chocolate is in our stores because of forced child labor. And unless we tell the guilty companies that this isn’t okay, this will keep happening.

So this means that the majority of the chocolate candy in your kids’ Halloween bag will be because of child labor, and often child slavery. But this also means there’s a simple but powerful thing you can do as a family to not contribute to the epidemic issue. More on that at the end.

In 2001, various news sources revealed that children were being used as slaves or cheap labor in West African cocoa farms, where the majority of the world’s cocoa is birthed. Lawmakers in the U.S. tried to enact laws to require change, but the farthest they got was a voluntary protocol (the Harken-Engel Protocol, to be exact), signed by heads of major chocolate companies, to ask for the stop of child labor “as a matter of urgency.”

Well, this pretty-please request was more or less ignored, and more than ten years later, there are still over a million children working on cocoa farms with little more than the torn clothes on their backs. Their hands and faces are often sliced with machete scars, evidence of the main tool they use to cut down the cocoa from trees after shimmying up the trunk (and also used to split open the cocoa pod).

Click link for the rest.
 

Goaldeje

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Yeah, but we're talking about chocolate, man.
 

Burgundy Burner

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Next month, animal rights wackadoodles will get air time for turkeys. The following month it will be about how Santa is evil. In February, it's back to chocolate and divorce rates. In early Spring, the Easter Bunny will take its yearly beating. Mother's Day and Father's Day - all about how dysfunctional families are these days. In July, it will be about how slavery makes the USA the scourge of the world forever.

Rinse and repeat each year.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Tough crowd. Not even child labor moves them!

This is the first I've heard this and thought I'd share. And no offense, BB, but comparing child labor/child slavery to the Easter bunny and Turkeys is...well, stoopid to put it nicely. :)
 

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Just wait until the first cold spell arrives across the nation. The annual "what are we going to do about the homeless" question will appear on the news outlets. This is just part of the news cycle each year and if it makes you feel guilty, then so be it.

Didn't compare anything. I'm just saying that this is how the news cycle goes each year. Why not have a story about child labor another time of the year? Why not have a story about "cruelty to turkeys" in June?

The campus here has a Halloween special each year and families of residents bring their children, grandchildren, etc. for a fun time. I plan to pass out a lot of chocolate candy. Enjoy your Halloween however you see fit.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Well like I said, I've never heard this before and didn't realize it was seasonal. Apologies for wasting your time, BB.

I for one am going to pay attention to the labels on chocolate now. Child labor bothers me, if it doesn't bother you, so be it.
 

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Chocolate is made from orphans and the blood of kittens. And it's delicious.
 

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I'm really not mocking child labor, just for the record. But just like we can't be the worlds police force, we can't control how every country we trade with does business. I don't eat chocolate but if I did, and felt strongly enough about it, guess I'd stop eating it. Not sure what else you could do on a personal level about how it's harvested.
 

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When I was visiting Nicaragua a couple of years ago I met a 10 yr old boy who was responsible for 30+ head of cattle. His family needed him to be a man. Those cattle fed, clothed and schooled the other children in his family. Americans love to make decisions for how the rest of the world operates. Who would I have been to say whether it was right or wrong? It's none of my business.
 

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Yeah, my uncle could be considered to have violated child labor laws since his children all had responsibilities on the farm. When I went up in the summer months from age 8-14 I was up at 5:30-6am everyday feeding the calves...7 days a week, then finishing up milking the cows, feeding the hogs, cutting grass... Then there was bailing hay at 11-12 years old on. And my cousins did this all year round.
 

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Ages six to thirteen for me on a family farm in Minnesota (Martin County if you care to know) - eight weeks out of the summer each of those years. Did a lot of the chores that El mentioned. I never knew that summer was meant to be totally free of any work - if you look at it from so called child labor weenie point of view.

Did the same for my daughter - she complained a bit, but now looks back on the experience as a very positive influence on her life.

Today, I see teens who think it is beneath them to work at a laborious job or even something like fast food. Then we complain about having illegals doing landscaping, general labor, fast food, etc. Hey, one thing I give to these illegals and legal migrants - they have a work ethic and are willing to do these jobs.

We should have a national program that is devoted to teaching work ethics to our kids. Start at around age eight and have them spend six to ten weeks on a farm or have them mowing grass, cleaning businesses/homes, picking up trash, odd jobs, etc. Don't tell me about child labor laws when American kids spend their summers playing video games, watching TV, going to the pool, sleeping until noon, and so on.
 

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Ages six to thirteen for me on a family farm in Minnesota (Martin County if you care to know) - eight weeks out of the summer each of those years. Did a lot of the chores that El mentioned. I never knew that summer was meant to be totally free of any work - if you look at it from so called child labor weenie point of view.

Did the same for my daughter - she complained a bit, but now looks back on the experience as a very positive influence on her life.

Today, I see teens who think it is beneath them to work at a laborious job or even something like fast food. Then we complain about having illegals doing landscaping, general labor, fast food, etc. Hey, one thing I give to these illegals and legal migrants - they have a work ethic and are willing to do these jobs.

We should have a national program that is devoted to teaching work ethics to our kids. Start at around age eight and have them spend six to ten weeks on a farm or have them mowing grass, cleaning businesses/homes, picking up trash, odd jobs, etc. Don't tell me about child labor laws when American kids spend their summers playing video games, watching TV, going to the pool, sleeping until noon, and so on.
Nice post BB... I too grew up on a farm but also commercially fished for crabs, clams, oysters and mullet... to survive. My step dad worked for free most winters (plumber) with the agreement that his customers would get us back in the spring summer and fall. The participation trophy crowd in this country would have a conniption over the things I had to do as a child. Now having spent time in third world countries as an adult, I simply cannot force our concepts on people who do not live our sheltered existence.
 

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Now that had to be interesting - working in the fishing industry. And look at where you work now. Hardly a coincidence it seems. I look at the fishing/crabbing shows on occasion and quickly realize that it is truly tough work. Since seeing my first one a number of years ago, I decided to never complain again about seafood prices.

Not saying that we should place kids on vessels in the Bering Sea, but working a small shore job could suffice.
 

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Now that had to be interesting - working in the fishing industry. And look at where you work now. Hardly a coincidence it seems. I look at the fishing/crabbing shows on occasion and quickly realize that it is truly tough work. Since seeing my first one a number of years ago, I decided to never complain again about seafood prices.

Not saying that we should place kids on vessels in the Bering Sea, but working a small shore job could suffice.

I had my experience pulling crab pots out of the Chesapeake! I would rather bail heavy ass alfalfa!
 

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James Madison

Oh, this thread was serious?

But, it's chocolate...

:)

I would have to read a lot more about specific interviews with the families involved. As a parent, I am fine with inducing slave labor on my kids (what we pay them for babysitting their siblings is... umm, well, it's a good deal for us), but I have a problem with someone else forcing it upon my own kids. And our kids are up by 8am at the latest every weekend, we don't let them lie around and be lazy. I have no problem with making them work, but if someone takes advantage of my kids, beware.

To this issue, if I read multiple interviews from multiple parents decrying the working conditions, salaries, etc, then I suppose I might have to reconsider my view on this. But as DM said, their culture is different from ours, and I would want to make damned sure I'm not imposing my cultural beliefs on them.
 

Lanky Livingston

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I hear you guys about cultural differences, but this potentially involves child trafficking and slavery. And I also hear you about working on farms and hard work during the summers and stuff, however you still were able to go to school, something these children are not able to do (which is in the definition of child labor provided by the ILO). The work you describe does not fit the definition. Contrary to what I'm sure many of you think, I was taught the value of hard work and the value of a dollar as a child, and have worked paycheck jobs since I was legally able to.

Anyway, I was not trying to start a debate about this, just giving you something to think about when buying chocolate in the near future. If you're one of those crazy people who doesn't eat chocolate, than you can ignore this altogether. If your wives/husbands/girlfriends/boyfriends eat chocolate, maybe the next time you surprise them with a little something you think about getting responsibly sourced stuff. Just something to think about.
 

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I get the impression that chocolate covered slaves are a delicacy :laugh:

I tried removing the photo as asked, it will not let me. Apparently the internet thinks it's hilarious too. Seriously though, It wont let me remove it. Wait, I think I just got it.

Edit: yep, that did the trick.
 
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I should clarify, I love ultra dark chocolate, and on occasion white chocolate, but I despise milk chocolate. To me it's disgusting, and it's generally the kind people refer to when they say they love chocolate. It's not that I never eat it, it's that I have to be in the mood, which I rarely am. For candy, I'm more of a Hot Tamale/Mike & Ike, Starburst fan. Although I have been known to slaughter a few billion reeses cups in my day :D

Serious question.....when posting something about slavery and child trafficking, why post it here and not the PA?
 
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