Why the video of Ivorian cacao farmers finally trying chocolate is so distasteful


Recently, there’s been a video going around of cacao farmers in Côte d’Ivoire “tasting chocolate for the first time,” amazed by what they’re eating. Though the video touches on some aspects of the economics of the situation—closing with a “heartwarming” scene where the men enjoy their €2 bar of chocolate before heading back to work where, as the video notes, they’ll earn about €7 a day—it struck a nerve with me. The video offers a pretty uncritical picture of the way cacao production affects the laborers who give us our cheap chocolate.

I’m a graduate student studying primate behavior in Taï National Park in southwestern Côte d’Ivoire, just on the border of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. The men employed by the project I work for are cacao farmers when they’re not in the forest taking complex observational data on primate behavior and ecology, and I had a few problems with the story…

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