Chocolate, Unchained

Chocolate, Unchained By Lee Hall In the new film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka — played by a sleek Johnny Depp — is a factory boss in search of exotic sweets, able to pluck plants or animals from other lands at whim. Returning to the most troubling segments of Roald Dahl’s 1964 book, this year’s Wonka brings “a race of tiny people called Oompa-Loompas” [1] out of their tropical huts to become chocolate processors. A skim of on-line film reviews indicates little interest, let alone dismay, in the message that living “exotics” — including humans — are mere corporate resources. Likewise, few people notice that today’s wealthiest chocolatiers rely on slavery to keep them in the lifestyle to which they’re accustomed. Cocoa is chocolate’s main ingredient, and the vast majority of it comes from financially poor farmlands of the global south, where as many as 300,000 children handle dangerous pesticides and clear fields with machetes. [2] These are kids who have never tasted a chocolate bar. [3] The rest of the world began to notice them five years ago, when the British Broadcasting Company’s “Slavery: A Global Investigation” showed children being bought from their parents in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo for a nominal price, then shipped to the Ivory Coast to spend their every waking hour at work on cocoa farms. Some of the...

Read More