Chocolate is an important commodity that everyone purchases around the globe. Chocolate can be defined as “a preparation of the seeds of cacao, roasted, husked, and ground often sweetened and flavored, as with vanilla” (chocolate, n.d., para 1). During the industrial revolution, in 1830, the world’s first edible chocolate bar appeared. The world’s production of cocoa beans was about 10000 tonnes, but the production of chocolate increased to three million tonnes nowadays, all because of the high demand for chocolate (The world of Chocolate, n.d.). Chocolate is a delicious commodity with a very delightful taste. However, chocolate has two major negative impacts, one is child labor in developing countries, and health problems in developed countries, so people in the UAE should be more careful with how they should consume chocolate.
Chocolate is considered an important commodity that is traded all around the globe. 90% of the world’s supply of cocoa is produced in eight countries, those are Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon in Africa, Brazil, and Ecuador in Central and South America, and Indonesia and Malaysia in south-east Asia. On the other hand, Europe and North America are the world’s largest chocolate consumers (The world of Chocolate, n.d.). Chocolate production is very complex and requires a lot of work. The process of chocolate production starts with collected seed pods from the cocoa tree, that are later shipped to the manufacturer. Cocoa seeds are found inside the pods. Cocoa seeds go through the process of being fermented and dried for a week. Cocoa is later sent to the chocolate factories, where they are roasted and winnowed. The producers then grind the cocoa nibs to produce cocoa liquor, which is unsweetened chocolate. Depending on the manufacturing methods, the cocoa liquor is either mixed with cocoa butter and sugar or with sweetened condensed or powdered whole milk. Finally, cocoa liquor is blended, and the chocolate is molded and waited to cool down and get hard into the shape of the mold; Chocolate is now ready to be packed and distributed around the globe (The production of chocolate, n.d.).
One of chocolate’s negative impacts is using child labor on cocoa farms in developing countries. McKenzie (2002) explained that he wanted to meet children who worked in cocoa plantations and chocolate production, therefore he went to Mali to the lush jungle of the Ivory Coast, where nearly half of the world’s supply of cocoa is produced. He met some, and they were all younger than 16, including the boss himself. The children worked on different farms depending on the season, and they were only paid about a pound a day. The problem was that it was not hard to find them, and if finding child labor is so easy, then there could be millions of them working instead of living a normal life. Moreover, Humphrey gave their names to the Ivory Coast government but unfortunately, there was no real will to help those children. The majority of children who are working in this industry have never tasted chocolate, never went to school, do not know how to read and write, and such a tiring job causes their scars and pain. According to UNICEF, there are probably about 500 thousand child workers on the Ivory Coast on all kinds of farms. Furthermore, Tulane University published a study that explained that the efforts in stopping child labor are both uneven and incomplete, with 97% of Ivory Coast’s farmers not reached yet, but those who represent the industry of cocoa production disagree with this assessment (McKenzie & Swails, 2012). Unfortunately, most people living in developed countries, the UAE being part of them, have no idea that such a serious problem exists.
People can be addicted to chocolate, but it can cause serious health problems when eating too much. Jaewjira (2011) explained that caffeine is a normal ingredient in chocolate, but it can cause many serious health problems such as hypertension, insomnia, anxiety, dehydration, and inability to concentrate. Aside from caffeine, chocolate also contains sugar, an ingredient that is less bad than caffeine, but also very harmful. Chocolate can cause diabetes and cavities because it is filled with carbohydrates that cause spikes in blood sugar. Moreover, chocolate contains sugar with no nutritional value, which causes heart disease and gaining weight (Fisk, 2014). As chocolate is one of obesity’s results of obesity, people in the UAE should be more careful since the obesity rate is increasing in the country.
There are two main solutions for chocolate’s problems, one is Fairtrade, and two is considering healthier options. The first solution is Fairtrade, which is a social movement that supports farmers and workers in gaining more money from trade, and provides them with better living conditions, a better future, and a better working and living environment. In 2013, Fairtrade paid about 9.8 million euros and producers chose to invest nearly half of this amount in productivity and quality. Fairtrade cocoa origins can be found in India, Sri Lanka, Ghana, and many other countries (Fairtrade International, n.d.). The second solution is either to reduce eating chocolate or replace chocolate with a healthier option such as dark chocolate. Jaewjira (2011) explained that even though this type of chocolate tastes bitter because it contains less sugar, it contains large numbers of flavonoids. Some flavonoids act like antioxidants in our bodies, which help in slowing down aging in our bodies. Other flavonoids help in relaxing the blood pressure and balancing the hormone. Dark chocolate can decrease high blood pressure, get rid of and decrease bad cholesterol, and stimulate endorphin production.
In conclusion, chocolate is indeed an important and famous commodity but people in the UAE should be aware of its negative impacts, and solutions. Child labor is considered a serious problem and people in the UAE can help by only consuming chocolate that is labeled with a Fairtrade label to help and support the workers and producers of chocolate, and reduce the number of child laborers. Moreover, there are many chocolate companies in the UAE that are labeled as Fairtrade, such as Cadbury. As chocolate is a cause of obesity, people in the UAE should be more careful when consuming chocolate, by either reducing the amount of chocolate a consumer eats or replacing it with healthier options. Finally, how many surprising facts and information would the people in the UAE, and people all over the world, find when researching the commodities they consume daily?
Chocolate. (n.d.). Dictionary.com. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/chocolate
Fairtrade International. (n.d.). Cocoa. Retrieved from http://www.fairtrade.net/products/cocoa.html
Fisk, M. (2014). Live Strong. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/392195-chocolate-negative-side-effects/
Hawksley, H. (2002). BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2042474.stm
Jaewjira, W. (2011). Chocolate. Retrieved from http://www.student.chula.ac.th/~54407744/goodnbad.htm
McKenzie, D. & Swails, B. (2012). CNN. Retrieved from http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/19/child-slavery-and-chocolate-all-too-easy-to-find/1
The world of Chocolate. (n.d.). World Standards. Retrieved from http://www.worldstandards.eu/chocolate%20-%20random%20facts.html
The world atlas of Chocolate. (n.d.). The production of chocolate. Retrieved from https://www.sfu.ca/geog351fall03/groups-webpages/gp8/prod/prod.html