Have you ever considered where the chocolate you buy at your local grocery store comes from? Sure, the labels say the chocolate bar is manufactured in the US, but began as a cacao bean in a cacao farm in West Africa in the Cote d’Ivoire. The same cacao farm that uses child slaves to harvest the beans. These young slaves are tricked and forced into working for the farmers under inhumane conditions and extreme abuse. And we as Americans are blind to this fact, each of us consuming 11-12 lbs., on average per year!

Take action! We have the power to change the way cacao beans are harvested and the power to make a difference in thousands of child’s lives. We can start by contacting Hershey’s and other major distributors of chocolate who are not Fair Trade Certified. Here is a link to Hershey’s Raise the Bar site for starters. Grab your youth group, maybe watch The Dark Side of Chocolate film together, have everyone on board sign the petition and send it in to Hershey’s.

Buy only Fair Trade chocolate. Your love affair with chocolate doesn’t have end. Thankfully, Fair Trade chocolate exists! Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers receive a fair price, allows farmers to invest in techniques that bring out the flavors of the region, and strictly prohibits slave and child labor. Premium funds are invested to increase product quality, develop infrastructure, train cooperative leadership, bring safe drinking water to villages, and establish local health clinics and schools. Here you can find a list of companies and products who have went the extra mile to ensure that their chocolate is ethically sourced. If you are already at the store and forget the list, just look at the front label and it will have a symbol on it that says Fair Trade.

Spread the word. You can also take action simply through word of mouth. Many people do not have a clue as to where chocolate comes from. Talk about it, get them in the know. Here is a neat guide of 31 Ways and 31 Days to Fair Trade your October. These ideas will get your whole neighborhood and eventually city in the know about the dark side of chocolate.

Just remember, before you go out and buy several bags of chocolate for trick or treats, consider buying Fair Trade certified chocolate so everyone can enjoy a trick or treat that ‘s so sweet!

What actions will you take this month toward a slave-free chocolate industry?