Other

Tequila and San Francisco’s Favorite Chocolate Come Together as One


TCHO and José Cuervo partner for a limited-time chocolate bar

Tequila-infused chocolate makes for a delicious pairing.

Who needs a lime to chase a tequila shot with when you’ve got chocolate? TCHO, a Bay City chocolate maker, and José Cuervo’s Reserva de la Familia have collaborated and launched a limited edition chocolate bar created by TCHO’s chief chocolate maker, Brad Kintzer.

Last month, San Francisco’s Bourbon and Branch celebrated this delectable pairing with a speakeasy party. Guests were only permitted in with a secret passcode and were sent home with some decadent goodies. There were tequila-chocolate drink specials, TCHO samples, and plenty of shots to go around.

For the past four decades, Cuervo family tradition has been to enjoy their private tequila reserves with dark chocolate on hand to unleash the flavors hidden of the multi-faceted extra añejo. For this collaboration, TCHO developed a custom blend of dark chocolate with cacao beans from Peru for fruity tones, Ecuador for nutty accents, and Ghana for a fudgy consistency. Kintzer spent almost four months soaking organic cacao nibs in Reserva de la Familia to bring out the tequila smoothness.

The dark chocolate square exemplifies fragile flavors of lush chocolate pastries with crisp brownie ends, dried stone fruits, light hints of toasted agave, freshly cut oak balanced with spiced almonds, burnt caramel, and sweet vanilla.

The chocolate set is available at all TCHO kiosks at the Westfield San Francisco Center and online for $16.25 per 12-piece box.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Popular chocolate makers are being sued for child slavery. How you can find ethically sourced cocoa

Chocolate is often seen as a “guilty pleasure.” But where is the guilt coming from? The Extra Spicy podcast dives into the controversy around cocoa.

2 of 3 Fresh cacao beans photographed at Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz, Calif. Thursday, March 9, 2017. Mason Trinca/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

Chocolate is often seen as a &ldquoguilty pleasure.&rdquo But where is the guilt coming from?

On the Extra Spicy podcast, hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips dive into why consumers&rsquo guilt goes beyond the waistline and into the exploitation and enslavement of children. As of 2021, there are 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa. Human rights issues have long been tied to this industry, but for the first time in the U.S., major chocolate companies are facing child slavery lawsuits.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, or on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho&rsquos conversation with Simran Sethi:

SOLEIL: So you're on the show to talk to us about chocolate, which seems like such a basic, broad subject, but there's something really particular about the industry that I think deserves so much space for our conversation. And that's labor and chocolate.

SIMRAN: It's funny because we can tell stories as you well know, through any food, but chocolate grabbed my heart. I dedicated a chapter of my book to it, I created a podcast about it and not because like, &ldquoOoh, it's this ooey gooey thing,&rdquo but rather the story of labor history, identity, geography, science, of course flavor: they're all embedded in this substance that many of us in the global North certainly have been enjoying our whole lives. But I think very few of us know the bigger, more important stories behind it.

SOLEIL: I feel like this juxtaposition, this contradiction between the pleasure and the pain of these foods is something you've gotten a lot of traction out of. your podcast, The Slow Melt and your book, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love" it's this almost surprising follow up to the things that give us so much pleasure that, "Oh wait, it's awful." Can you tell me what you find so gripping about this topic?

SIMRAN: . We, consumers, can help shape this industry. We can help shape the future of the industry. And I mean this from a flavor perspective in relation to the types of cocoa that are grown, this is what my book is about agricultural biodiversity and the extraordinary diversity of flavor you can find in cocoa if you allow for it. And then also reshaping the social justice aspects of this, which are heartbreaking. It's absolutely unconscionable, that in 2021, we are still seeing big chocolate manufacturers exploiting not only the land, but children to create their products. Generally, we're talking about farmers or kids, who are already at the margins, like farmers who grow cocoa are often in extreme poverty. And now they make between three and six percent of what we pay for a chocolate bar. And this is a huge drop from the eighties, which was decades ago when they made closer to 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. So, if you just think of this as like, "Wow, they promised decades ago that they would solve this problem when it came to light." And, what we're seeing now is more child labor, less money for the crop and an industry that has ballooned.

It's not like people have stopped eating chocolate. The market has grown exponentially and spread all over the world. Places that never had an appetite for chocolate before now have voracious appetites. So, you know, put all that together and you realize there's a real problem here that needs to be addressed immediately.

SOLEIL: It was my impression that a lot of the major chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestle and so on, were on board with making these changes. So why is this so persistent?

SIMRAN: They were on board with making the changes back in 2001 Mars, Ferrero, the Hershey company, Kraft, Nestle: they all came together and said, "W0w, there's this problem of extreme child labor. " &ndash which I want to make a distinction right now between extreme or forced child labor. I'm not talking about like a kid helping out the family to help harvest a crop or, you know, doing something after school. I'm talking about extreme labor that is dangerous. The way you cut a cocoa pod is with a machete. These are not instruments that should be in the hands of children.

So again, in 2001, there was a piece of legislation introduced in the United States, known as the Harkin Engle Protocol. It was an international agreement that was aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, especially in the Ivory Coast, where the majority of cocoa is grown. It was supposed to reduce it by 70% by 2020. But what we find in the year 2021, there was a US Department of Labor funded study that was released by the University of Chicago that came out in October of 2020. here we are in 2021, and there are still 1.5 million children harvesting cocoa in West Africa, which is an increase since the last major study that was done in 2015. 95% of these kids are performing hazardous work in 2021. Like, this is where we are. So all those commitments that they made and they continue to say throughout, right. if you can't hear, I'm just going to say it: there is rage in me over this because these promises have been incremental. They kept pushing the requirement a little further down, their targets a little further down. "We have this program. We have that program. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing things." And then they throw out these numbers around child labor remediation is what they call it, and if you actually look to the context of the numbers of people growing cocoa, it was like a flick of a percent, you know, 5%. So without context, it looked like a lot was being done. Or then they'd say, &ldquo Oh, well, we just simply cannot trace the supply chain," . you and your listeners may not know that it usually takes a significant amount of cocoa to ferment it, so oftentimes they'll be a lot of small farmers delivering, you know, small amounts of cacao, cacao pulp to a middle person, and then it goes from there. But the truth is they absolutely, we can see with blockchain, they absolutely can trace the supply chain. And we've seen similar echoes in, you know, Ethiopia where I did research for my chapter on coffee. I'm in the middle of a village with no running water, and yet I can see that they have put up the market price for coffee, because they know people need to understand what their work is worth, what their crop is worth. But unfortunately that kind of oversight has not happened in cocoa. So they've been able to push their targets. They've been able to throw out numbers without any context, and they've been able to get away with this for far too long. Finally, we see what could be a turning point here in 2021 with three lawsuits, that are all directly related to exploitation that might finally force the hand of these major chocolate makers.

SOLEIL: So before we get into the lawsuits, which sounded really interesting and important for this conversation, I would love for you to just talk about what these children are doing when they're working in these fields and these plantations.

SIMRAN: They are largely, working by hand to cut down these pods. And gosh, it's like a watermelon. I just want to give people a visual on kind of the weight and heft. All cacao isn't the same size, but the fruits, the weight and the kind of mass is between a cantaloupe or a honeydew and a watermelon. So, you know, these are small kids and it's a pulpy fruit you're digging out. These things are really heavy. And even though they grow on really thin stems, they sprout right off the tree. Those stems are really sturdy. So in order to hack it off the tree, you can twist it off sometimes, but in order to hack into it, you're either cutting it open with a machete to harvest the pulp, or you're smacking it against a tree. So that's where a lot of the danger comes in. Cacao is traditionally grown in really dense forests. So also having kids in these places, I don't know honestly how much supervision is there. So, I don't want to speak out of turn around that, but I think that could be another place where there's a lot of chance for kind of physical exploitation when people aren't in public view, which we certainly see with labor here in the United States, particularly with migrant farm workers.

SOLEIL: I have seen coverage of child labor in chocolate, especially when the lawsuits came out. How do you sustain the conversation? Have you found a reliable way to get people to keep thinking about this?

SIMRAN: So, I think it's more than just informing people. Have you seen anyone change their behavior in response to this [coverage]? We throw information at people and I just, again feel. I'm a journalism communications teacher, I think a lot about not just the information being out there, but what does it take for it to permeate?

I thought a lot about this with these lawsuits. It's like, "Wow, well, that decision was made on December 20th when people were very, very stressed out about the stimulus and about the holidays." So, I think that timing is critical, but I also think what's really been missing is anything that really touches the heart of the lived experience of who harvests our cocoa. And that's why in my book, the people who were centered were farmers. And that's why in my podcast, the people you heard from weren't just hipster makers. I mean, I love them. Thank you, craft chocolate makers from all over the globe. But my, my goal is for people to understand that cocoa grows in a thin band around the equator. Cocoa comes through Black and Brown hands. Cocoa was born in a bean shaped area between Ecuador and Peru, and it was domesticated in what&rsquos now Mexico. The majority of cocoa is grown in West Africa. We would not have this crop were it not for Black and Brown people, and I want us to hear from them. That has been fundamental in my work. I also am aware that it's not just me writing a heartfelt story. It's the law, you know, sometimes what it takes is a legal requirement to make a change because the businesses signed onto a voluntary protocol and they have not done it 20 years later. At this point, we need another entity to step in. I see governments in West Africa are demanding a baseline price for cocoa, governments in importing countries being a lot more scrutinizing about the quality of cocoa and about the quality of the supply chain and how people have been treated. And at least here in the United States, like these are big levers of change. Most of the major chocolate companies are headquartered in the United States. This year could be the year that we see significant change. But I think asking companies to do it voluntarily is sort of like asking the wolf to take care of the hens. Capitalism is not engineered to care for people. It is built on the exploitation of labor.

SOLEIL: It feels like a really impossible chicken and the egg situation where you want people to pay more for these products so that there can be, you know, better outcomes for the people who create them and facilitate them. But we're not at the point where everyone has that income or that sort of financial or mental space to think about ethics. How do we bridge that gap?

SIMRAN: Well, one big way is, I guess for me, sometimes it feels like a smoke screen or a diversion like, "Oh, everything you're saying is just for rich people." It's like, I'm absolutely not saying that! I always want people to know everything I say is tethered to the fight for fair wages, for living wages for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. That's really important to me that I'm not decoupling those things. But I mean, you bring up a really excellent point, right? Like we're not trying to just create fancy products for fancy people. But I would say there are some bridge chocolates that are at a price point of probably closer to like five to $7 for a bar. So if you do drop five bucks or seven bucks, instead of just a dollar, and my gosh, if you can just hit even like $10 to $14, you're going to get some of the best chocolate in the world. what I'm trying to say is like the majority of the greatest stuff in the world can be had for less than like the price of a movie ticket. So that's a decision that we all have to make on our own, but I think that there's a lot more opportunity there than people may realize.

SOLEIL: I would love to hear about who has been inspiring you in this space, who you can rely on for ethics.


Watch the video: Athens Vlog. Επιστροφή στην πραγματικότητα (January 2022).