The Ivory Coast produces 40% of the world’s cocoa, and its beans are mixed into almost every brand of mass-produced chocolate. But did you know that much of that cocoa is harvested by children as slave labor, held captive and forced to work against their will?
In 2000 and 2001, British and American journalists documented the enslavement of adolescent and teenage boys on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. Most of the children come from Mali, Ivory Coast’s poorer neighbor. Traffickers entice naive adolescents and teenagers with the promise of good jobs in the Ivory Coast. Even the prospect of buying a new bicycle or modest scooter can motivate a boy to sign up for a season of hard work. Later, once separated from their community or others who speak their language, the children are sold to cocoa farmers. Some farmers pay children a small sum at the end of the cocoa season. Some do not. And some farmers exploit the children’s vulnerability, forcing them to perform long, hard, dangerous work, with only minimal food and shelter. Some beat and threaten those who try to escape, locking the children in sheds or huts at night.
West Africa supplies 70% of the world’s cocoa, mostly to Hershey’s, Mars, Nestlé, Cadbury, Cargill, ADM, and other global corporations. And while a handful of these western corporations control approximately 85% of Ivorian cocoa exports, and could take a pro-active lead in combating slavery practices, few have done anything substantial. Even 2001′s hopeful Harkin-Engel Protocol, in which large-scale cocoa industry players promised to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, has been watered down and produced little effect.
Consumers, though, can make an impact—by buying Fair Trade Certified products. Fair Trade Certified cocoa and chocolates are sourced from eleven origins, including Ivory Coast, Ghana, and numerous Central and South American countries. Under Fair Trade standards, the farmers and co-operatives abide by key covenants of the International Labor Organization, including those forbidding inappropriate child labor and forced labor. Fair Trade also offers critical protections for workers, and directly addresses the underlying problem of low cocoa prices and chronic poverty among cocoa farmers. And Fair Trade’s criteria also specify the practice of sustainable agriculture that limits the use of agrochemicals.
For us at Global Gourmet and NewGreenBasics.com, our favorite chocolates just happen to be Fair Trade Certified, and we’ve added a new company to the list: Equal Exchange, which was founded in 1986, and is the oldest, largest for-profit Fair Trade company in the U.S. Besides sinfully rich cocoa and chocolate bars, they offer organic coffee, tea, and sugar produced by democratically run farmer co-ops in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The company takes an active roll in humanitarian issues, and the story above is adapted from an article that appeared in their Spring 2007 newsletter. (Read the original “Ivory Coast cacao (Ivory Coast cacao)”:http://www.equalexchange.com/child-labor-in-the-cocoa-industry article).
A list of Fair Trade Certified companies, from chocolate makers and distributors, to tea, sugar, rice, vanilla and other ingredients, can be found at “Fair Trade Certified’s Licensed Partners (Fair Trade Certified’s Licensed Partners)”:http://www.transfairusa.org/content/certification/licensees2.php#cocoa .
Green Goodness: No added fuel; uses precooked chicken and roasted hazelnuts (try the Ginger Poached Chicken above; roast the nuts anytime your oven’s hot, as described below)
Prep/Cooking Times: 10 minutes total prep
Prime Season: year round
Conveniences: Can be partially made 1 day in advance and refrigerated.
The Ginger-Poached Chicken and Broth recipe yields moist, flavorful chicken, perfect for this distinctive chicken salad, but any cooked chicken will do. Napa or Chinese cabbage is sweeter and milder than regular cabbage, and the leaves add a crunchy, frilly contrast to the dish. (To shred the cabbage, stack the leaves and slice into 1/8-inch strips.) Hazelnuts make this a sophisticated dish, with crunchy, toasted flavor.
Roasted Hazelnuts: Roast the nuts ahead of time, whenever you’re already baking something between 350 and 375 degrees F. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet; roast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once. When the skin crackles, pour them into a clean towel and rub vigorously to remove most of the skin (do this outdoors for less mess). Refrigerate or freeze, up to 3 months, and toss them into salads, pastas, breads, and desserts.
3 cups shredded cooked chicken meat
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 green onions
1/3 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces (3 cups packed) finely shredded napa cabbage leaves (about 7 medium leaves)
3/4 cup (2-1/2 ounces) toasted, coarsely chopped hazelnuts, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Mix the chicken and vinegar in a bowl, until the vinegar is absorbed. Trim and diagonally slice the green onions (both green and white parts) about 1/4-inch wide. Stir the mayonnaise and hazelnuts into the chicken. (The salad may be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for 1 day before continuing.) Just before serving, mix in 3/4 of the cabbage, most of the green onion (reserve a bit for garnish), and pepper. Spread the remaining cabbage on a serving platter, spoon the salad on top and garnish with green onion and hazelnuts.