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February 11th, 2013 | By Alicia Silverstone

I’m happy to have Kind Lifer Katie (who has shared about sewing kids clothes and eco weddings) share this blog about the organization she works with, the Food Empowerment Project. They want to make the chocolate industry fairer!

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Buy Fair Chocolate!
By: Katie Gillespie
Photo source: ©Romano
Did you know that the worst forms of child labor, including slavery, are a huge problem in chocolate production? Seventy-five percent of the world’s cocoa is grown and harvested in Ghana and the Ivory Coast – countries where child labor, slavery and human trafficking is prevalent. Children (as well as adults) working on cocoa farms are exposed to dangerous working conditions, harmful agricultural chemicals and sometimes physical violence. Extreme poverty in the region forces many children to seek work on cocoa farms. When they arrive at these farms, most of these children receive no education, they are paid next to nothing if they are paid at all, they are housed in unhealthy living conditions and fed a diet lacking in necessary nutrients. You can read about this issue in more detail here.
A fantastic California-based nonprofit organization – Food Empowerment Project – has launched a campaign to end the worst forms of child labor in cocoa production. Food Empowerment Project is a vegan, food justice organization that has a number of great campaigns to address pressing concerns about human, animal and environmental forms of injustice.
When I found out about child labor, slavery and human trafficking in the chocolate industry, I was shocked and wanted to do something to make change. If you’re like me, you might be asking, “What can I do to help?” As members of The Kind Life community, we can do a few very easy and important things to help:

•  Buy only FEP-recommended chocolatePurchase vegan chocolate from companies that do not source cocoa from regions where the worst forms of child labor are common. Use this handy list as a buying guide!  (They don’t have every brand, but it’s a great place to start! – AS)

•  Sign a petition! Food Empowerment Project works tirelessly contacting companies to find out where they source their chocolate. Clif Bar has shockingly refused to disclose the country of origin for their chocolate! Sign this petition now to ask Clif Bar to be transparent in their sourcing.

•  Spread the word! Post info on your social networks about Food Empowerment Project, their chocolate campaign and recommended chocolate list, as well as the Clif Bar petition.

•  Volunteer and/or donate! If you want to get more involved, Food Empowerment Project would love your help and is always in need of volunteers and donations.

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Thanks Katie for sharing this great and really important information!!
Before we get too sad about one more thing we can’t have, I have good news! All of my favorite chocolate companies on the list are all on the recommended list (or the “working on it” list). I was suddenly devastated when I saw my new favorite chocolate company Chocolate Inspirations listed as “Cannot recommend: companies that did not respond.” I asked my team to reach out to them to find out why they weren’t on the awesome list and to urge them to get on it… only to find out that they are sustainable and fair trade and now they’re communicating with FEP. Hopefully they’re on their way to “recommended” status! If your favorite company isn’t on this list or isn’t recommended by FEP, reach out to them and urge them to make their practices sustainable and to get on FEP’s recommended list!
Is your favorite chocolate company on the recommended list?
I hope we can all get inspired to do something to help make chocolate production more kind!

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