Chocolates, Not So Sweet

Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Poland; the similarity among these nations is chocolates, one of the popular desserts. (Maverick). Chocolates accompany people’s daily lives as stress-relievers, quick energy providers, or snacks to compensate for arduously difficult days.

The history of chocolates dates all the way back to ancient Mesoamerica. After a period of Olmec’s usage of cacao beans to make primitive forms of chocolates, Mayans adopted Olmecs and had the tradition to consume chocolate drinks, known as “xocolatl”(Kim). In contrast to the availability of chocolates regardless of social status, Aztecs’ chocolate culture differed because it was reserved for upper-class Aztecs. Their love and respect for chocolates could be signified by their utilization of cacao beans as their currency and by their belief that cacao beans were gifts from the gods, specifically Quetzalcoatl (Kim). 

In 2018, the largest consumption of chocolate per capita was 11 kilograms (What Is the Demand for Cocoa on the European Market?). With the high demand for chocolate, ethical issues for chocolate companies have also risen. “Ivory Coast produces about 45% of the global cocoa… [and] the production of cocoa in West Africa has long been linked to human rights abuses, structural poverty, low pay and child labour” (Balch). In the competitive market of chocolates, the direct producers of cacao beans are subjected to live below the poverty line with 2-dollar income per day and less than 5 percent price return of chocolates (Women and the Big Business of Chocolate). Illustrated from these statistical values, the products, such as chocolate bars, chocolate powders, and other sweets that people enjoy, contain the bitter truth and reality. 

One of the actions to protect both the agricultural workers and ecosystem was the implementation of UTZ Certification. It started off to sustain healthy coffee markets, and then it expanded to certify tea, hazelnut, and cocoa. Furthermore, the products with this certificate prove to the consumers that they are free from the issues like child labor, unfair systems of income, and more.

Chocolate is a popular dessert that offers a splendid sweetness. It is originated from ancient Mesoamerica, and it also contains a dark depressive truth. However, due to more frequent awareness campaigns, activism, and implementation of a system, the planation of materials needed for chocolates has been secured and improved.

By: Jiyoon Ryu