The people of Earth consume nearly 100 pounds of chocolate per second, and North America is home to the most 'chocoholics'. We just can't seem to get enough. In fact, in the last decade, global chocolate consumption has increased at twice the rate of production.
An unpleasant 'ingredient' in cocoa production
Tragically, our national sweet tooth may come at a steep price. Despite ongoing efforts to reform the chocolate industry, there are allegations that some suppliers and manufacturers are still benefitting from child labor and human trafficking in violation of international law.
In West Africa, which produces more than 70% of the world's cocoa beans (the primary ingredient in your favorite chocolate treat), the local population accounts for just 3% of all chocolate consumers. Chocolate in these areas is not an indulgence, it's an industry.
With help from outside experts like supply chain consultants Solidaridad, the industry has sought reforms in recent years that will ensure humanely produced and sustainable chocolate. But many social, economic, and environmental issues remain.
You can help
Industry leaders like Mars, Hershey, Cargill, and Ferrero have committed to '100% certified cocoa' by 2020, but consumers can begin to make conscious buying decisions today.
Alex A. Kecskes has written a great piece for Care2 where he explains the 3 labels we can look for on our chocolate to support positive changes: USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, and Rainforest Alliance Certified. To learn what each certification means, and why you would want them on your chocolate labels, click here to continue reading.