The trouble with chocolate

Guatemalan cacao beans after harvest and cleaning. Photo by Rachel Vigil

The Fair Trade Federation outlines nine principles of fair trade that promote more equality and equity in the trade of goods. Fair trade is about creating opportunities and relationships with trading partners, building trust and business, ensuring worker rights and children's rights, as well as respecting culture and the earth. Fair trade connects products with a marketplace.

Fair trade is not charity; it is not a handout. Fair trade is an opportunity for marginalized people to earn a sustainable income and improve their life and the life in their community. Research shows that 90 percent of a woman's income in an emerging market is reinvested in her family. This means a family can send children to school instead of to work, they can buy solar light bulbs and keep water sources clean. When women are making a fair income, there is a decrease in child labor and human trafficking.

The chocolate industry has historically been one of the largest offenders in unfair labor practices. There are widespread reports of child slave labor in the harvesting of the cacao beans with the worst offenders being in Western Africa. The purchase of fair trade chocolate guarantees slave-free harvesting and production. So be sure to look for the fair trade logo at your local grocery.

If you want to know more about fair trade and/or chocolate, join a group of like-minded people at the Bromfield Cafe in the Westlake Porter Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 9:30 a.m. For more information, email

Rachel Jewell

Rachel has been working in fair trade for 4 years. She is a Westlake mom, fair trade warrior and social worker.

Read More on Food & Travel
Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 9:57 AM, 02.07.2017