This is a new series called “But What Can I Do?,” a question I seem to get so frequently when people find out about modern day slavery.  The simplest answer is this: YOU can do a LOT.

Not everyone is interested in dropping their day job to become a full-time abolitionist, but avoiding the slave trade is a lot simpler than you’d think.  Through this series, I hope you’ll take a cold hard look at what you are or aren’t doing already to promote slavery.

For the first article, I’m simply reposting an article I wrote earlier this year about chocolate.  I no longer purchase any chocolate unless it is Fair Trade Certified.  That makes ice cream shops, bakeries, and groceries stores difficult to visit now, but I’d rather not sell out simply to put a piece of slave-harvested cocoa in my mouth.

I finally got the chance to view the documentary “The Dark Side of Chocolate.”

I used to eat chocolate without thinking about it. Now I know that most companies, regardless of any signed documents specifying otherwise, continue to purchase cocoa from farms that use child slaves.

70% of the world’s chocolate is farmed by child slaves.

You can go to this site and look up places to watch the documentary for free.  I started with the idea that I’d write down all the important information and put it on the blog so those laziest/busiest of you would still get the information, but the truth is that you really just need to see it for yourself.  It’s not the best documentary I’ve ever seen, but the message is strong.  And it’s a message coming straight from the top offices of all of the largest chocolat producers in the world (Nestle, Mars, Kraft, Cargill, ADM, and Barry Callebaut to name a few): We will continue to allow children to be kidnapped, trafficked, and enslaved in cocoa farms as long as consumers continue to buy our product.

No, it isn’t a direct quote, but that’s exactly what I understand their position to be.  The people at the top say there is no child slavery.  When they are shown facts proving that there is, they say it is rare.  When they are shown that it isn’t, they say it’s not their problem – they don’t own the farms, so they can’t do anything about it.  And that, I hope you don’t mind me saying, is bullshit.  When it comes to money, their decisions to hold farms responsible are the only ones that matter.  If they know that it’s happening and tell the farms they are going to check up and make sure that it stops and won’t buy the cocoa if they find out it’s happening, it WOULD stop.

But why put that much effort into it?

You’re going to keep buying the chocolate anyway.