Raise the (Chocolate) Bar This Valentine's Day

Feb 11, 2011
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.
Make sure your chocolate doesn't have a dark side. (Reuters Pictures)

Chocolate is many lovebirds' gift of choice for Valentine's Day, but some boxes of the sweet treats are akin to candy-coated blood diamonds.

Yeah. We know. What could possibly be evil about chocolate?

Well, much of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa, where many cocoa farmers live in poverty. In addition, as a BBC documentary uncovered last spring, the region's chocolate industry employs high rates of child labor and human trafficking.

Even chocolate marked "fair trade" isn't immune from production abuses.

A 2009 Tulane University study found that "children are frequently involved in weeding, plucking cocoa pods, gathering and heaping cocoa pods, and other cocoa growing activities."

Now, in time for Cupid's favorite holiday, Green America is hoping you'll shoot a "Valentine" to candy giant Hershey, and encourage them to "raise the bar" on chocolate sourcing.

According to Green America:

Since at least 2001, the Hershey Company has been aware of the problems that exist at the start of its supply chain, yet it continues to source from this region without ensuring that labor rights abuses do not occur in the production of the cocoa it uses.

Green America wants to convince the candy maker to adopt new rules and standards that will bring transparency to its supply process and become certified as a fair trade product. According to the group, Hershey currently sells only one chocolate bar—in its Dagoba line—that is certified as a fair trade product.

Hershey has already received at least 10,000 "Valentines," according to Reuters. 

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