Chocolate Need Not be Bittersweet

I haven’t been quite the same since I watched “The Dark Side of Chocolate” DVD last September at the international fair trade conference in Boston. I had heard that children were involved in harvesting cocoa, the same cocoa that makes the chocolate bars that I love in my s’mores every summer. But who wants to believe that chocolate could be so bittersweet in that way?

The Movie documents Danish journalist, Miki Mistrati’s journey to Cote d’Ivoire to investigate these allegations. And what you see on the screen is quite disturbing. Not only are children working in the cocoa fields, but many are trafficked there, working involuntarily, and in hazardous conditions.

One moment your heart is broken, then inspired by the courage of others trying to stop the trafficking. And then outraged, when the chocolate company executives solidly deny these claims, even though Mistrati has captured all this on film.

Last September I brought home a copy of the DVD, part of the Raise the Bar Hershey campaign, inspired to spread the word. Fair Trade Judaica has developed an entire resource section called “Bean of Affliction: Chocolate, Child Labor, and Choosing Fair Trade“, which provides background information, ideas for raising this issue at Passover seder, and campaigns to promote fair trade chocolate (including Kosher for Passover chocolate!).

And since last September when I saw “The Dark Side of Chocolate”, I have only purchased Fair Trade chocolate – even the dark chocolate tastes sweet!