Sugar: How Sweet It Ain't

NOTE: This is a post from last year. Part of the blog migration.

I planned to do a post about sugar before Halloween but didn't want to bring everyone down. Halloween is such a fun holiday, it's a shame that it results in addicting our kids to sugar as well as triggering a lot of adults back into a full on sugar binge.

I don't know how to change it. Maybe focusing more on the theatrics instead of the sugar? That was the part my daughter and I enjoyed the most when she was little. Planning our 'haunted house' and scaring trick or treaters was a blast.

What's not so fun is looking at how all that sugar gets produced and why it's so inexpensive. It's not something most of us give any thought. 

However, now that the holiday is past, let's go ahead and take a look.

So it's not just all a downer, before we go into the gory details, take a look at a 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' video from a few years ago and have a good laugh with our cry:

Yeah...sugar.

elieve it or not, the news actually gets worse. 

Ever wondered why that chocolate bar is so cheap? I mean really, a buck or so isn't a lot for something that has to be grown, harvested, processed and then shipped overseas.

Yes, overseas. 2/3 of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa. 

Guess how much the cocoa industry is worth a year?

Go on...take a guess...

Answer after the break

cherubs.jpeg

Yeah...sugar.

elieve it or not, the news actually gets worse. 

Ever wondered why that chocolate bar is so cheap? I mean really, a buck or so isn't a lot for something that has to be grown, harvested, processed and then shipped overseas.

Yes, overseas. 2/3 of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa. 

Guess how much the cocoa industry is worth a year?

Go on...take a guess...

boyhaulingsugar.jpeg
...by some measures the problem has actually gotten worse in recent years. Last July the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University released the findings of a comprehensive survey of child labor in Ivory Coast and Ghana in the 2013–14 growing season. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor as part of ongoing follow-through on the Harkin-Engel Protocol and built on a previous survey conducted by Tulane five years earlier.

The conclusions were not what the chocolate industry or the governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana wanted to hear. Tulane found that 2.1 million children had been engaged in inappropriate forms of child labor in Ivory Coast and Ghana combined—a 21% increase over the 1.75 million identified in its survey five years earlier. Of those, 96% were found to be involved in “hazardous activity.” The number of children reported to be performing dangerous tasks fell by 6% in Ghana but jumped by 46% in Ivory Coast.
— ~Fortune Magazine Article "Bitter Sweets"

Additional Information on:
The Harkin-Engel Protocol
Fourth and Final Tulane Report 2010 


Buying Fair Trade chocolate products is one way to combat the problem. It's not a complete solution but it's a step in the right direction, especially with Valentine's Day around the corner.

Of course, it'd be nice to find other ways to celebrate these holidays but with North Americans consuming nearly 24 pounds of candy a year, that's probably not going to happen any time soon.

By the way, the bulk of that consumption comes during and right after Halloween. =p

Here's a list of some Fair Trade brands available:

Alter Eco
barkTHINS
Guittard
Lake Champlain Chocolates
Sweetriot
Sunspire
TCHO
Vosges Haut-Chocolate

From "Is There Child Labor in Your Chocolate?"

Next Valentine's Day, Easter and Halloween, maybe we can start thinking up less exploitive ways for us to gift those we love. 

Feel free to share any ideas you have in the comments section below.

Sweet ;)