1. The Dark Side of Chocolate

The International Labor Organization estimates that about 200,000 children work on cocoa farms. Most of these children are in the country of the Ivory Coast, where approximately 43% of the world’s cocoa originates. According to a 2000 investigative report by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of children are being sold or stolen and taken to the Ivory Coast where they are forced into a life of slavery on the cocoa farms. Many are killed or beaten if they try to leave.

When a newly freed slave from a cocoa plantation in West Africa was asked if he knew what happened to the cocoa he harvested, he replied, “No.” Had he ever tasted chocolate? Again, “No.” So we asked him, what would you say to those millions of people who eat the chocolate made from the cocoa you have grown? “Tell them,” he said, “when they eat chocolate they are eating my flesh.”

For those of us who work to speak out for animals who are exploited and killed for food, we can imagine that this is very close to what animals would say.

As consumers, we have the power to refuse to support these types of practices by simply choosing which products to buy. It is Valentine’s season and you may ask, “What can I do?” and “What do I buy?” and the answer is to buy Fair Trade cocoa and chocolate products that you can confirm do not come from the Ivory Coast (as there is no organic chocolate produced in the Ivory Coast, organic seems to be free of these types of practices).

For more about the chocolate slavery issue, please visit:

2. Sjaak’s Fair Trade Organic Chocolates – Compassion can be sweet!

Show your loved ones that compassion can be sweet! As part of Food Empowerment Project’s commitment to provide you with the knowledge to empower yourself to make compassionate and just food choices, we want to help you buy Valentine’s Day treats that are both animal-free and do not contribute to the injustices mentioned above.

Sjaak’s has a great selection of Fair Trade-organic-vegan-chocolates that are delicioso! Now you can support an industry that is fair to its workers, doesn’t contribute to animal suffering and adds an extra bonus – it tastes great too!

Although the packaging may not indicate it, ALL of Sjaak’s chocolate is Fair Trade.

To order from their delicious vegan selection, please visit:

We recommend trying the peanut butter cups! Yum!

Also, check out our Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe:

3. Volunteer Opportunities

The Food Empowerment Project is looking for volunteers to do some research and writing that will be used for our website and for fact sheets for city and county officials, as well as general outreach.

We have a variety of issues we want to cover, so e-mail us at info@www.foodispower.org if you are interested and let us know if you want to help with writing, research or both. We look forward to hearing from you!