With hectic school, work and social schedules, it can be easy to not think about what goes into the food we eat. Food has more than just a direct impact on our bodies, but it also has an emotional and physical impact on others around the world. Unethical work conditions are often publicized, exposing immoral practices within diamond and clothing businesses, but are not limited to those industries. Unfortunately, it is frequently the backstory of many foods we unknowingly enjoy every day, such as chocolate.
Dutch investigative reporter Teun van de Keuken (Tony) began the company Tony’s Chocolonely almost 11 years ago after he worked on investigating slavery within the cocoa industry. He was appalled to learn that a majority of chocolate sold in stores was the direct product of slavery, including child slavery. FoodIsPower.org states, “As the chocolate industry has grown over the years, so has the demand for cheap cocoa. On average, cocoa farmers earn less than $2 per day, an income below the poverty line. As a result, they often resort to the use of child labor to keep their prices competitive.”
Keuken went to the world’s largest chocolate distributing companies to plead with them to find an alternative solution, but when he was turned away and ignored, he decided to do something about it on his own.
“He ate a couple of chocolate bars and then turned himself in to the authorities as a chocolate criminal. By eating chocolate, he was complicit in slavery. But the public prosecutor wouldn’t prosecute him,” the company’s website stated. “Teun didn’t give up and went looking for witnesses; victims of chocolate consumption. He found four boys who had worked as slaves on a cocoa farm in Ivory Coast. They provided evidence against Teun and the 2,136 other chocolate consumers who in the meantime had joined Teun in his stride.”
Originating in Amsterdam, Tony’s Chocolonely bars became available in 2005, and it is still going strong today. Its mission remains: “As a chocolate company we lead by example and activate industry, politics and consumers to bring about change. Alone we make slave free chocolate, together we make all chocolate 100 percent slave free.”
With Keuken and others’ research, there is now light shed on the dark topic of slavery in the cocoa industry, and with truth comes resolution. The website is full of eye opening statistics and useful information about how exactly the company plans to eradicate immoral labor in the industry by using what it refers to as “Tony’s 5 Principles of Cooperation,” a guideline for companies to follow to produce fair trade.
Tony Chocolonely bars are sold at several locations in the Salt Lake City area, including Harmon’s and Jade Market. After reading about the company, I decided to try them out for myself. Not surprisingly, they were delicious. My favorites had to be the smooth milk chocolate and crunchy chocolate caramel sea salt. Inside the wrappers, the company offers words of encouragement and ways consumers can learn more and join them in their cause. A delectable treat and a purchase you can feel good about is hard to beat.
With colorful and animated wrappers, these chocolate bars are impossible to miss next time you’re walking down the candy aisle.