Chocolates. For many, there is nothing better. In the US alone, on average, we consume 11.64 pounds of chocolate a year per person. That’s over 3.2 billion pounds of chocolate that’s consumed every year. In 2005, the retail market for chocolates in the US topped $15 billion a year.

Aside from the stats of chocolate, there is certainly a hidden side of chocolate that many do not know about. Before my friend raised this issue a few years ago at his church through his work, I was also completely in the dark about how chocolates gets from cocoa beans to the grocery stores. Like many of our most precious resources, it all starts in Africa. More specifically, the Ivory Coast, or Côte d’Ivoire. When I realized that 80% of the world’s production of chocolate originates from Côte d’Ivoire, it dawned on me yet again why Africa is the continent where so much corruption and colonization has happened over the centuries. It really is all about money and greed. Diamonds. Ivory. Minerals. And now, chocolate. It’s no wonder that Africa has not had any serenity for generations, if not millenniums. But when I was reminded again about this topic this week, I just had to write about it.

Of the 200,000 child laborers thought to be working on the production of cocoa, as many as 12,000 are thought to be victims of human trafficking and slavery. While that might only be 5% of the 200,000 laborers, that’s still 188,000 children who are subjected to manual labor, legal or not. We know that the number is probably higher than that. Many are kidnapped and sold, all for the sake of cocoa beans. All for our pursuit of consumption of chocolates. The video here is part of a documentary that discusses the exploitation of human trafficking and slavery. It’s 2010 and we haven’t gotten very far from the oppressive attitudes we hold because of our greed of money and food.

The next logical step is to find out what companies are guilty of participating in this and stop giving them our money. The worse culprit? Hersey’s. They are the biggest chocolate retailer in the world and they are the worse participants of this issue. It will be tough to give up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats, and the beloved Hersey kisses. But at some point in our lives, we must live responsibly, especially to the children who are kidnapped and sold into slavery. I still know very little about this topic, but from the little I do know, it’s convicting us to take small steps to stop the trafficking. I know a few people won’t make a dent into Hersey’s bottom line, but we need to think about the things that we do that impact those we know and those we don’t know. And it’s a matter of people’s lives, literally.