Finding someone who does not like chocolate can be a difficult task. After taking professors Sowell and Nagengast’s “Political and Cultural Modernization” class, the taste of chocolate is no longer so sweet. The bitter realities of illegal child labor practices, economic injustices and cruelty are largely apart of the Ivory Coast’s chocolate production. In class, David Sowell, professor of history, fed the class chocolate and then presented a documentary called “The Dark Side of Chocolate” that shocked students with its description about brutal harvesting practices. A speaker from Burkina Faso also talked about the economic opportunities that the Ivory Coast cacao harvesting promoted. Students from the class talk about how their views about chocolate and its production have changed:
Frank Filkosky ’13, Altoona, Pa.:
After watching both the video and presentation on the harvesting of cacao beans, my opinion has changed strongly in terms of responsibility of the CEO’s in charge of Nestle and other large chocolate corporations. Their feigned ignorance of the amount of child labor that they employ disgusted me. I hope that the governments of the Ivory Coast and the bordering countries can make strides in child labor prevention for human rights worldwide and the chocolate industry as a whole.
Jordan Holsinger ’13, Overland Park Ks.:
I’m a huge advocate of social justice and free trade. After watching the film and presentation, the issues of child labor in the production of chocolate seem daunting and almost hopeless. There are so many forces driving this atrocity: bad governments, callous corporations, desire for social status, and the frustrating economic situation of many West African nations. All of these issues need to be addressed in order to solve this problem but its difficult knowing what way is the best. The most effective thing we can do, as students, is advocate with letters, votes, and dollars for corporations like Nestle, Hershey, and Mars to recognize that they have a responsibility to change these damaging practices.
Tjorven Maack, Destedt, Germany.:
I think that it was a great how Professor Sowell presented this problem to the class. We started to analyze chocolate wrappers and the overall conclusion was that they advertised luxury and enjoyment. However, when we watched the movie we were brought back to reality. We saw that chocolate has nothing to do with luxury but with illegal child labor. I think that the documentary gave me more specific information and I really appreciated it.
Alyson Lush ’14, Spring Mills, Pa.:
After eating the chocolate and seeing the documentary, it made me realize how unaware I am about the origin of my food. The disconnection between myself as a consumer, the manufacturers of the chocolate, and the actual growers of the chocolate was very apparent and unsettling.
~Erin Kreischer ’13, Online Journalist