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Frequently Asked Questions

Since creating this site in July of 2005, we have received a lot of emails from a lot of different people, and as sort of general response, we want to thank everyone who has written us for their interest in this issue. The vast majority of you expressed, in one fashion or another, your desire to spread awareness about the problem of chocolate slavery and to work towards ending it, and we are encouraged and appreciative of your responses to our own humble efforts and eager to reiterate here our hope that you will continue to do whatever you can to push for progress, however arduous the journey to justice may be.

We'd also like to apologize to those of you who wrote whom we did not write back to. The truth is, this site is essentially the work of just two people, both of whom have full-time jobs, various hobbies, etc., and while we have written a good many emails over the past few years, there have also been more than a few that are no doubt still sitting here and there in my in-box, opened (I have at least *read* every email, I think) but unanswered.

Which brings me to the primary point of this FAQ: we would love to cut down on the number of emails we receive by answering some of the more commonly asked questions right here and now. Not surprisingly, certain questions get asked repeatedly by different people, so if we can answer some those questions before you take the time to write well, hopefully we'll all save some time.

So, please take a few moments to check out the answers below. If they do not manage to answer your question(s), then by all means feel to drop us a line. We may be able to get back to you, but again, we're pretty busy with life in general, so please don't be offended if we don't.

  1. I am writing a report for school/making a video for a class project/interested in learning more about slavery in chocolate production . . . could you tell me where I could find some information?

    Well, that's pretty much the point of this entire website that is, to collect and present a ton of information about the problem of slavery and other labor abuses in chocolate production. So, did you look in our News and Information section? We've got links to lots of articles and reports in there. How about our Slave-Free Chocolate page? We go into great detail there about how not to contribute to the problem and how to be part of the solution. Try looking through the whole site before writing us.

    Put simply, we basically created this site to be a resource for people, but we can't, like, do even more research for you, especially if you haven't made the effort to look at what we've already provided.

  2. This site hasn't been updated in a long time, so what's the deal? Is this even an issue anymore? Has slavery in chocolate been eliminated by now?

    This is kind of related to Question 1 above, though slightly more understandable. If you're using a computer (which you almost certainly are if you're reading this), then you've probably heard of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, etc. Well, those are the very tools that we used to collect all the information on this site we don't have access to some secret stash of information, we're not, like, actually living in Ivory Coast or receiving updates directly from NGOs or journalists monitoring the situation. All we've really got is a computer and access to the internet same as you.

    Now, in answer to that specific and very important question, no, nothing we've seen suggests that the chocolate industry (as a whole) has cleaned up its act (see this report from June, 2008). And, while we do look from time to time for new news about what's happening in regards to the problem, we haven't been particularly diligent about adding new links every time the media or NGOs provide some sort of update (which most often happens around chocolate-heavy holidays like Valentine's and Halloween, incidentally). Again, we're fairly busy, and we didn't set ourselves up to be the ever-vigilant arbiter and monitor of every development that might occur (much as it may seem that way ;^).

    So, you know, if you think there may be some more recent news we haven't linked to here, I'd suggest you see what you can find with Google or some other search engine. The internet's a powerful tool and makes it pretty easy to find the latest info on just about anything if you know how to look.

    That said, if there ever comes a time when slavery and other abuses in the chocolate industry have been definitively stopped, then you can be sure that we'll do whatever we can to plaster that news all over our homepage. Like, short of us having lost access to the site or something weird like that, we'll certainly let you know as soon as we do if chocolate slavery has, in fact, been stopped. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening anytime real soon, and until you hear otherwise from a really reliable source, you should assume that these terrible abuses continue.

  3. You've got a list of slavery-free chocolate, but what about Hershey/Nestle/Godiva/etc.? Why didn't you include them?

    Seriously? Did you seriously somehow manage to find our email address and send a query but fail to get one of the most basic points of the site i.e., that the very chocolate you're asking me about is quite likely tainted by some form of labor abuse?

    Sorry to sound snarky especially to those of you (the vast majority, I'm sure) whose reading comprehension level is above that of the average fourth grader but I actually have received some emails like this, and, well, they're a little frustrating, to put it mildly.

    (Don't worry, though: I'm pretty much done whinging, and the questions that follow get increasingly substantive.)

  4. Hi, I was looking at your site, and I want to lead a protest to raise awareness about chocolate slavery. Do you have any resources or materials that I could use to put this together?

    First of all, thank you for taking this issue to heart it's gonna be hard to change things without people like you, and we applaud any effort you're willing to make to work for justice, whether it's quietly telling your friends and family why you won't eat a Snickers bar, shouting with a bullhorn outside of M&M's headquarters, or giving out Fair Trade chocolates to the kiddies on Halloween. You can make a difference, and you can help make this world a better place for everyone.

    That said, I gotta encourage you to take a sort of do-it-yourself attitude about this. To say it again, this website is essentially the work of just two people, and we simply don't have the resources (much as we wish we did) to contribute to everyone who has an idea about how to raise awareness, promote Fair Trade, etc. But hey, you don't need us, right? Just get out there, give it a go, do whatever you can, and know that there are more and more like-minded people the world over who want you to succeed in winning more hearts and minds to this cause.

    Of course, you're definitely welcome to use any and all of the original material on this website if you think it will help. Feel free to print out and distribute our essays, our list of good chocolates, our list of charities, or anything else you can find that might be useful. (Also, see Question 7.)

  5. I've got a site of my own/work for a company/group/co-op that promotes Fair Trade/labor rights/etc. . . . How about a link exchange?

    First of all, you are totally welcome to link to our site we created it to spread awareness, so anything that might help in that regard is always appreciated. Also, we thank you and applaud you for interest in this subject and for anything you're doing to make this world a happier place for everyone.

    Again, though, we're very busy (notice a theme here? :^), so please don't be surprised or offended if we don't get around to putting a link to your site somewhere on ours.

  6. I own/work for a company that makes Fair Trade chocolate. Could you please add us to your list?

    Excellent. We admire people who can run a business while making a point of not exploiting other people (alas, it seems there are far too few such businesspeople out there). But, again, please don't be offended if we don't get around to adding your chocolate to our list.

    As we made clear on the Slave-Free Chocolate page when we created it, our list makes no claims to being an exhaustive one, but we certainly hope that the site will benefit your business, if even just indirectly, by making consumers aware of the distinction between Fair Trade chocolate and less ethical stuff. Also, in the update to the Slave-Free Chocolate page that we added when we added this FAQ, we included a direct link to TransFair USA's list of Fair Trade chocolates and suggested that people look there first, so if you are selling Fair Trade products (and assuming TransFair keeps their page reasonably up-to-date), you hopefully won't miss out on any business or whatever as a result of our being sort of flaky about updating our own list.

  7. I am a journalist working for a newspaper/magazine/television program, and I was wondering if I could interview you about chocolate slavery? Or [related], I am filmmaker putting together a documentary to raise awareness about the problem of slavery in chocolate, and I was wondering if I could bat around some ideas with you?

    In fact, we've only received these sort of queries a couple of times. The first was from a journalist writing for a magazine that seemed to have a pretty solid circulation, and the second was from some film industry folks who had some vague plans (from what I could tell) for a documentary. I said yes to the first query and failed to get back to the other folks (which was effectively a no, I guess). Let me explain why.

    As I said, the magazine apparently has a pretty decent-sized audience, and so I figured it would be silly to miss a chance to get this site's messages and ideas out to that wider audience. Better still, the reporter who wrote us had a very clear, straightforward request to simply interview me over the phone for a half hour or so. In other words, I could see exactly what she was asking of me and tell that it wouldn't require a great deal of my time. So, the calculus was pretty easy: I could (hopefully) help a lot of people learn more about this very disturbing problem by just spending a lunch break chatting with someone over the phone. It would've been silly not to oblige.

    Now, I do feel pretty bad about not getting back to the film guys they sounded pretty serious and on point and I very nearly did reply. On the other hand, it wasn't really clear what they wanted from us (beyond, as I said, a kind of vague notion of discussing some ideas) or what, exactly, they were going to be doing (making a film it seemed, but again, the email was pretty nebulous). And, as I've said, we're pretty busy these days, so we don't have much time to spend trying to figure out what other people's projects are about. Ultimately, while I really would have liked to help, I was reluctant to get involved in something that was so ill-defined, and after failing to get back to them for several weeks, I sorta figured they'd have gotten whatever info or help they needed from someone else.

    Along these lines (and at the risk of sounding a little snooty :), we don't really wanna get involved in relatively small-scale projects. This isn't because we don't wanna encourage everybody to do whatever they can even telling a single person about the issue or buying a single Fair Trade product is great it's just that we have a limited amount of time, and so have to measure whatever time we can offer against the impact we think it will have. So, if you're doing a speech for your 20-person class at school, that's excellent that's 20 more people (potentially) who never knew about this issue but will know something now, and hopefully some of them will alter their behavior in a positive way but we probably won't be able to make any additional effort (that is, beyond all the effort we've already put into this site) to help you with your presentation. If, on the other hand, your part of some organization that has the resources to do a protest/make a film/write an article that could reach hundreds or thousands of people, well then we'd certainly be more inclined to pitch in. This isn't so much a question of being big-headed (at least I hope not :^), just one of being busy and, to be honest, a little lazy sometimes. Like anyone else, we basically have to pick our battles and spend our time wisely.

So, the basic take-away from all these questions and answers is pretty clear: while we would like to answer every email we get and help out with every project anyone proposes, we simply haven't got the time, so unless you'd like our help with something pretty major, we might not be able to get back to you.

That said, we are very encouraged by the response to the site thus far (I think we were approaching 100,000 unique visitors when I last checked the stats), and hope that you find it useful and informative. Because in the end, the whole point of the site is just to make some difference, however small, in the lives of the people who make chocolate, to help make sure that they are treated with the dignity and fairness with which we would all like to be treated. So hey, even if this FAQ itself seems filled with a bunch of excuses about why we can't get more involved in this effort ourselves, we hope that you will do something, anything, to get us all a little closer to the sort of just world in which we would all like to live.

Cheers,

Kyle

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WWW http://vision.ucsd.edu/

< Introduction

What we're all about.

< News & Information

The sad truth about most chocolate products, as reported by reliable news sources and NGOs.

< Take Action

Now that you know about the slavery in chocolate, do something about it.

< Slave-Free Chocolate Products

A guide to good chocolate. And by "good" we don't just mean "yummy", but "virtuous", too.

< Give to a Charity

Twenty bucks might buy you and I a nice meal, but for millions of others it could mean the difference between life and death. So, how about mac & cheese tonight?

< Food for Thought

There are lots of issues related to chocolate slavery - poverty, power, politics and more. Read and talk about them here.

< FAQ

We're not good at answering our email, so if you have a question, check here first!

< Search

Search this website or the WWW.

< Facebook Group

Join the Facebook group Stop Chocolate Slavery (Buy Fair Trade!).



Please note that the slave-free chocolate page has been updated and that we've added an FAQ as of 01/19/2009.




Questions? Comments?
Send email to kyles78(at)hotmail.com