It is almost Valentine’s day !!! What are you planning on getting your Valentine ??? Chocolate? Of course you have to get them chocolate because when you think Valentine’s Day you think chocolate and ALOT of it. However have you ever thought about what you are supporting when you buy chocolate; such as, child slavery in the chocolate industry or unsustainable farming methods?? In this article I will be talking about child labor and unsustainable farming methods in the chocolate industry. I will also be talking about how regular and organic chocolate is made and I have a list of eco-friendly organic chocolate options with links to the companies which carry the product.
During the production of a regular 100g bar of chocolate, 300g of harmful CO2 are also produced, and the cocoa farmers often do not receive a fair wage. Consequently, their children have to help out with the harvest, instead of going to school.
Chocolate’s billion-dollar industry starts with workers like Abdul. Abdul is 10 years old, a three-year veteran of the job. He squats with a gang of a dozen harvesters on an Ivory Coast farm. Abdul holds the yellow cocoa pod lengthwise and gives it two quick cracks, snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He dumps the beans on a growing pile.
During the course of an investigation for CNN’s Freedom Project initiative - a team of CNN journalists found that child labor, trafficking and slavery are rife in an industry that produces some of the world’s best-known brands. UNICEF estimates that nearly a half-million children work on farms across Ivory Coast, which produces nearly 40% of the world’s supply of cocoa. The agency says hundreds of thousands of children, many of them trafficked across borders, are engaged in the worst forms of child labor (http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/19/child-slavery-and-chocolate-all-too-easy-to-find/).
Unsustainable Farming Methods
The growth, extraction, and transportation of cocoa farming have had serious consequences on deforestation, biodiversity, and climate change. Cocoa farming requires hundreds of thousands of acres of land. The methods in which the lands are made more suitable for modern agricultural farming is very damaging to the environment. The two ways in which cocoa farms are established are through either selective cutting or the slash and burn method. Even though the selective cutting method is much less invasive and damaging to the environment, most farms are created through the slashing and burning method. The slash and burn method is when the natural vegetation of the area is cut down and the remains are burned as a way to clear the land for farming. This method leads to a large amount of carbon dioxide and harmful particulates being released from the burning of all the plant and animal life found in that particular area. In fact, the practice of converting tropical rainforests into agricultural land accounts for a significant share of annual greenhouse gas emissions due to land use change.
Another concern with cocoa is that the hybrid cocoa, which was developed by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, rapidly depletes soil nutrients when it is not accompanied by fertilizer. This cocoa produces high yields, which mean they produce comparatively more food which ultimately reduces the amount of space needed for farming. They also have shorter production cycles due to the stress of higher yields. Since lush vegetation is where all the nutrients are, when the vegetation is removed and the farmers do not fertilize the fields, the land which was once fertile becomes a desert (http://www.rainforestpartnership.org/rss/207-cshocolate-in-the-rainforest)
“The way we farm is just not sustainable," says John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council (NCRC). "I'm afraid by the time we wake up to that fact it will be too late. I've worked in Ghana for 25 years and I can show you huge areas that can no longer support a crop."
The problem is that cocoa is naturally a rainforest plant that grows in shady conditions surrounded by a high biodiversity, but recently hybrid varieties have been grown on cleared land as mono-cultures and in full sun.
While this will give higher short term yields, the soil quickly becomes degraded and the lifespan of plants can be cut from 75 or 100 years, to 30 or less. When the trees die and the land is exhausted the farmers must move on and clear more rainforest to plant cocoa.
But the looming decline of West African cocoa is not only a problem for farmers and chocolate producers - Cadbury sources 100 percent of the beans they use for UK chocolate production from Ghana - environmentalists are increasingly concerned about the destruction of the rainforest for short-term gain (http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/07/06/eco.chocolate/).
How Regular Chocolate Is Made
Did you know chocolate is treated with synthetic pesticides??? Cocoa farming uses the highest volume of synthetic and toxic pesticides. Synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers affect the environment, the crop, and workers. Chocolate tastes amazing but you don’t want to eat something which uses toxic pesticides. It is not good for you or the environment. Therefore you should think about trying organic chocolate.
How Organic Chocolate Is Made
If food is marked “organic” it must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. To make organic cocoa, the farm replaces conventional fertilizers and soil conditioners with crop rotation practices and all-natural fertilizers (manure). Synthetic and toxic pesticides are never used, replaced with all-natural alternatives. These organic practices create a more sustainable crop, have a lower environmental impact, and are better for the workers who will not be exposed to the synthetic chemicals. On the manufacturing end, USDA Certified Organic chocolate also guarantees that no artificial flavors, dyes, or GMOs (genetically modified organisms) find their way into your chocolate. Therefore organic chocolate is the way to go for your sweet tooth. I have listed some places which carry organic chocolate (http://www.southernsavers.com/organic-living-journey-learning-about-organic-chocolate/).
Eco-Friendly/Organic Chocolate Alternatives
Change Chocolate is a company which makes environmentally friendly chocolate. Each product is fair trade and carbon neutral. The company found a manufacturer of excellent Swiss chocolate who wanted to support the company and was willing to forego their profits: Chocolats Halba. Owing to the support of Pur Projet, the company has experts on hand, who help the cocoa farmers grow precious wood.
The farmers receive a wage which meets fair trade standards and can increase their earnings even more further through the sale of the precious wood. The sustainable cultivation of precious wood offsets CO2 emissions, which are released during the production process of the chocolate.
The Change Chocolate can be purchased at Akzenta, Dehner, EDEKA Südbayern, EDEKA Minden, Kaufland, Multi Südring, Rewe and Tengelmann Süd; and in Austria, at Billa, Merkur and Sutterlüty. If you would prefer to buy the organic variety of the Change Chocolate, these chocolate bars are available at all dm and Alnatura shops in Germany. 20 cents from each bar sold is given to Plant-for-the-Planet and for every 5 bars sold the company plants one tree.
Like the Change Chocolate on Facebook.
Order one or more boxes for just € 14 - there are 14 chocolate bars (each 100g) in a box - shipping is free on orders shipped to Germany. You can place your order on our website, by telephone +49 (0)8808-9345 or by fax -9346 (http://www.plant-for-the-planet.org/en/about-us/the-change-chocolate)
You can also purchase eco-friendly chocolate from Fat-Turkey Chocolate Company, Raw Chocolate Love and Lulu’s Chocolate.
Here are links to their sites:
Have an AMAZING GREEN Valentine’s Day !!
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