A brief intermission for a Chocolate Commercial

ripe-red-orange-yellow-cocoa-pod-held-by-young-asian-hand-farm-cacao-pod-theobroma-cacao-l_380409-72For those of you who regularly read my blog, you know that slave-free chocolate is my “thing”.  I only buy fair trade chocolate and it is one of the primarily causes that I have made an effort to undertake in my daily living and baking adventures.  As a refresher, here’s my introduction to Chocolate and Slavery.

NOTE: Many of the following links and campaigns are no longer active.  Please refer to the link above for more information.  I have opted to retain the blog content below for context only.

I just returned from a 10-day trip to Ghana.  (This explains why I haven’t had a recipe post in a while.)  Regrettably, time and accessibility constraints prevented me from visiting a cacao farm during my stay.  However, observing and experiencing the country was a clear reminder that vulnerable people – those who are financially disadvantaged, those who lack opportunity to bring themselves up out of poverty and desperation – are targets for slavery even in 2011.  It must be relatively easy to convince a family to put their ten-year-old to work in order to support the rest of the family.  Imagine, though, the realization that when he left for work he was instead stolen into slavery and will likely never be seen again.

Valentine’s Day is a major chocolate-buying holiday in the US, and the perfect opportunity to take a stand against modern-day human slavery.

Hershey is one of the only major chocolate companies here in the U.S. that has made no commitment to work with independent monitors to trace its cocoa and ensure that egregious labor rights violations are not occurring in its supply chain.

From now until Valentine’s Day, the Raise the Bar, Hershey campaign is organizing a fun new action campaign that is a great activity for a snow day.  Concerned consumers across the country are making their own Valentines and sending them to Hershey CEO David J. West, calling on his company to start supporting Fair Trade and to take a stronger stand against forced, trafficked and child labor in its supply chain. It’s a great way to send a personal message to the company and remind them that you want Hershey chocolate to truly be made with “drops of happiness” (as a new marketing tagline says) and not exploitation.  You can find more details about the Valentine’s Day campaign here.

You can also take action from the comfort of your laptop by joining 1,400 Change.org readers in sending an e-mail to Hershey calling on the company to raise the bar on its cocoa sourcing policies, and then spreading the action link to friends and family through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

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