Let Africa’s Children Be Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and to celebrate it slave-free, you might want to plan ahead. Here are a few ways to support the abolitionist movement this February:

  • Get Hershey to do the right thing.

    This year a lot of anti-trafficking organizations are fighting the chocolate industry by focusing their attention on Hershey. Hershey continues to be a primary abuser of children in Africa. As opposed to Cadbury and Mars, who have made promises to address the problem of child trafficking in their cocoa production, Hershey hardly pays lip service, let alone takes action, toward ending slave-made chocolate. Thus many abolitionist groups are teaming up to send Valentines to David West, CEO of Hershey, encouraging him to raise the bar in chocolate production by ending slave-made chocolate in the Hershey production line. If you care to join in, you can use an already made template or make your own.

  • Reward a great chocolate company.

    Along with holding big business accountable, why not also use Valentine’s Day to reward a company that ensures fair and safe production? If you are planning to buy chocolate for your sweetie this year, consider Divine Chocolate. Divine is a cooperative based out of Britain and Africa. The company is 45% owned by cocoa farmers and is 100% fair trade. Their prices are reasonable, the beautiful wrapping makes it a great gift, and the chocolate can’t be beat. They make regular milk, dark, and white chocolate, but are also known for their mixtures – like white chocolate with strawberries (amazing) and dark chocolate with raspberries (also amazing). Find them at your local health food store, or in many regular grocery stores. (Note: they, sadly, don’t pay me anything to talk so well of them.)

  • Watch a tear-jerker.

    Say goodbye to cheesy romcoms! Many cities are hosting screenings leading up to Valentine’s Day of the documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate. Anti-slavery groups are encouraging individuals to purchase the film for $6 and host a screening for their friends. Perhaps a Valentine’s screening party complete with fair trade chocolate cake? Which leads me to…

  • Bake freedom into your goodies.

    Planning to bring cookies to work around Valentine’s Day or make your honey a cake? Fair trade baking chocolate is available at most health food stores, including Whole Foods. An additional incentive: It’s almost always organic, so it even tastes better.

As for me, I’ll probably be doing very few of these things. I am looking forward to a DC screening of The Dark Side of Chocolate at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington on February 8. And I will probably send David West a Valentine because it seems cheeky and potentially effective. But Michael and I have never been the Valentine’s Day types. So we’ll probably spend the evening drinking cheap beer and watching Nixon, as that is what will be due in our Netflix queue right about then. One man’s political downfall is another man’s romantic evening in.

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Comments
5 Responses to “Let Africa’s Children Be Your Valentine”
  1. Joan says:

    What a wonderful idea!

  2. Michael says:

    Talking about all of this chocolate free from slave labor has made me rethink our cheap beer scenario!

  3. Mary says:

    You’ve inspired me, I was looking for Divine Chocolate in our local Super Fresh. I wondered if Ghiardelli is Slave Free? I didn’t spend much time looking on the bars themselves, but of the ones I did look on (the more expensive special ones), none mentioned Free Trade.
    I will continue to look though.
    Thanks!

    • Joanna says:

      Organic chocolate is almost always slave-free, so you can look for organic. Unfortunately organic doesn’t mean that it was produced totally ethically, but since organic chocolate is mostly produced in South and Central America, it doesn’t have the same human trafficking madness surrounding it.

      As far as I know, Ghiradelli has said they are willing to be overseen by an independent and objective regulating group, as have many other companies (with the notable exception of Hershey), but there’s still no firm evidence that their production is totally slave-free.

  4. jessica says:

    Here is a link to Equal Exchange a company that offers fair trade coffee, chocolate and various other items. http://shop.equalexchange.com/category.aspx?categoryID=21

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