Kum-Kum Bhavnani’s documentary presents two views of how to harvest cocoa for the world’s seemingly insatiable demand for chocolate. One focuses on the severe labor conditions in Ivory Coast, the world’s largest resource for cocoa. In that West African country, child labor (which the filmmaker defines as modern-day slavery) is employed, with nary a peep of concern from the manufacturers and financial traders at the center of the cocoa world.
A more benevolent approach is shown in the Grenada Chocolate Company, a Caribbean-based cooperative run by the American Mott Green that emphasizes organic agricultural methods. The film insists that Green’s model of artisanal production helps to inspire a self-sufficient economy and individual self-determination.
However, Green balks at having “fair trade” certification, which he defines as misleading to consumers and too costly for his smaller scale approach. If Green is not flush with surplus profits, at least he is working with a remarkably clear conscience, and he is very happy to make a significant improvement in Grenada’s way of life.
If Bhavnani does not quite achieve a perfect balance in these parallel stories (the Ivory Coast focus could certainly use greater attention), she nonetheless offers a challenging presentation that could easily make chocolate lovers think twice about their favorite food.