Where does chocolate come from?
Someone once said: “Chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness.” Do you agree? What’s your favourite type of chocolate — milk, dark or white? And do you know anyone who doesn’t like chocolate? Us neither! But where exactly does this tasty treat come from?
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which grow inside the fruit of the cocoa tree! The fruit is farmed in tropical climates across Central and South America, Africa and Asia but the country producing the most beans is the Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in western Africa.
The fruit is oval shape and can grow as big as a football. Inside each fruit pod is a sweet, white pulp which tastes like candy and holds the brown cocoa beans. The cocoa beans are taken out, roasted, shelled and ground into cocoa mass, cocoa butter and cocoa powder and sold on to chocolate manufacturers, who add ingredients like sugar, vanilla, milk, fruit and nuts which turn it into delicious chocolate bars!
However, for many children in Africa, chocolate doesn’t mean “happiness”. The chocolate we enjoy is often grown and harvested in a way that is unfair to the people who help make it. Many of the people who harvest the cocoa beans or help grow other ingredients which might be in the chocolate bar work very long hours for very little pay. Some workers are even children, who may be paid nothing at all and are left with no time for school or play!
Thankfully, some organisations are helping to improve conditions for the workers. They visit the cocoa growers to check they are being fair and make sure that a portion of the money paid for the chocolate, is put back into the local communities to fund schools and hospitals, which helps improve the lives of those who live there.
How can I help?
Through buying the chocolate bars which are fairly made! Next time, you’re choosing your chocolate treat; look out for a symbol or label on the wrapper such as, FAIRTRADE or DIRECT TRADE which tells you that it was produced in a way that was fair to the workers who helped make it. Other positive symbols to look out for include, Rainforest Alliance, which means that the ingredients were grown in a way that protected the environment.
By Deborah L. Caine (Whyzz writer)