Our feature article this month by Alison Cole, is about ethical chocolate . It includes an interview with Executive Director of The Food Empowerment Project, lauren ornelas Chocolate: A Big Business With Dark Secrets February ignites the month of love, and with that comes the month of the largest chocolate sales of the year, to show our cherished ones how much we care. Sales of chocolate and confectioneries made from cocoa beans, in fact, totaled $110 million in Canada in February 2012. We Canadians certainly love our chocolate, but do we consider the ethics involved in the process of producing this delight when it comes to buying our sweetheart a Valentine? You may or may not know about the horrific human rights violations that occur in the cacao industry. 70-75% of the world’s cacao comes from West Africa, which happens to be the place where the most egregious forms of child labour occur, in this industry. The industry is, of course, profit driven, and the chocolate companies take advantage of the country’s poverty to exploit its people and the land. As Canadians in a privileged country, where purchasing a bar of chocolate is as easy as strolling to the nearest convenience store and passing over some small change, we have the power to end this human suffering, and to make choices with our consumer knowledge to put an end to the exploitation. Knowledge is power, and so the first step is to be aware of the issue and to know where your chocolate is coming from. There are many ethical options that are available to us, as well, that are cruelty-free. The Food Empowerment Project’s recommended Chocolate List is a great place to start for all your ethical chocolate needs! On the Animal Voices Vancouver radio show, we interviewed Executive Director of The Food Empowerment Project lauren ornelas on the issues surrounding the big business of chocolate and its dark secrets, and you can listen to that interview here to find out more. The Food Empowerment Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help people understand how their food choices can change the world – for the good. The chocolate companies need to take responsibility for what is happening in the making of their products, and they will do that when consumers have the knowledge to act and react, and demand human justice. Have an ethical Valentine’s Day this year!