The Dark Side of Chocolate (2010)

2 Jun

Chocolate is my personal addiction, whether it’s some M&M’s or a candy bar, it’s something I eat almost every day. It turns out that behind the wonderful taste which can make a person very happy, there is also a darker side. In this documentary Roberto Romano decides to investigate stories about child labor during the production and harvesting of cocoa beans.

The biggest supplier of cocoa beans, one of the most important ingredients in making chocolate, is Africa, mainly in Ivory Coast. Romano first interviews some of the companies that produce chocolate, like Nestle and Mars, to find out what they are doing to make sure there is no child labor. It turns out that the chocolate producing companies signed an agreement in 2001 in which states that no child labor should take place anymore by 2008.

To find out if this is indeed the case Romano travels to Ivory Coast and its surrounding countries. He talks with several local entrepreneurs and finds out that children are still smuggled into Ivory Coast. He also captures it on camera. It is a heart wrenching sight to hear stories about children being taken from their villages with false promises of being able to earn a lot of money. Some children can be saved before they are smuggled across the border, but as it’s something that happens every day it’s almost impossible to stop it as a lot of back roads are used to get out of the country.

He travels to Ivory Coast and visits some random plantations and unfortunately finds out that the rumours are true. When he visits a government official from the country, it’s very strange to hear him say that the country does not have a problem. Romano tries several times to contact the producers of chocolate, but they all deny to comment. He tries to end his documentary with something that reminded me of Michael Moore in order to get the attention of the companies to tell them what he has uncovered.

Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed by the documentary, somehow it didn’t completely work as I thought it wasn’t structured enough to make an important statement. The thing that shocked me the most was the fact that the big companies like Mars and Nestle don’t take their responsibility in making sure that no child labour is used.
At the end of the documentary I had the feeling that he did have a lot of valid arguments, but didn’t manage to give them enough power. The documentary was only 45 minutes, which is probably the cause of this feeling. I will admit that despite this documentary I will probably not eat less chocolate, making me a part of the problem as well.

Score: 6

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