When it comes to buying chocolate, most people look for the big brands, such as Hershey’s, Godiva and Ghirardelli. However, purchasing from these companies supports unsafe and unhealthy working environments that enforce illegal labor tactics. Many people do not know that behind all these big chocolate brands are children working in dangerous environments. Fortunately, there is a better way to satisfy your chocolate cravings without feeling guilty: Buy fair trade chocolates!

Michelle Wan / Daily Nexus

What is fair trade?

Fair trade is a movement of farmers, workers, businesses and consumers working to create justice in our global supply chain. This movement gives small farmers, workers and fishermen a voice in the workplace and community. It also ensures that they are earning enough money  to invest in their lives and their work. In addition to helping the farmers, workers and fishermen, fair trade focuses on environmentally friendly farming practices by prohibiting especially harmful chemicals and taking measures to maintain the beauty of this planet.


What does this have to do with chocolates?

Many people are unaware that, due to climate change, cocoa trees are facing danger. Unfortunately, due to high demand for chocolate, large companies look the other way and continue to harvest cocoa trees using unsustainable practices. Fair trade companies ensure that their products have been sustainably harvested and the trees have been grown without the use of harsh fertilizers and pesticides. Besides environmentally friendly farming, fair trade companies also focus on safe and healthy working environments. According to a study published by Tulane University in 2010, over 1.8 million children work on cocoa farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Usually, these children are foregoing  an education to work in these harsh, life-threatening environments. Fair trade companies make sure that cocoa farms are sustainable and that they prohibit child labor.

Michelle Wan / Daily Nexus

Where can I buy fair trade chocolates?

Although big companies like Nestlé and Hershey’s are working toward reducing child labor and improving cocoa communities in West Africa, this process will likely take a long time; therefore, it is better to start buying fair trade. This link provides a list of fair trade chocolate brands that are available for purchase in local stores. Luckily, as Gauchos, we do not need to go far to find fair trade chocolates. The Isla Vista Food Cooperative supplies several fair trade chocolate brands with a variety of flavors. So, the next time you want to purchase some chocolate, consider the negative effects that may result from your purchase, head down to a local store and look for the Fair Trade Certified seal to enjoy some guilt-free chocolates.

Although this article focuses on fair trade chocolate, fair trade practices extend to other products, such as clothes and home goods. For more information on the fair trade movement and other products, feel free to visit the Fair Trade Certified website and FairTrade America website.