After I met Solo on a cocoa farm in Ivory Coast, and learned a bit of his story, I asked if we could talk somewhere where we wouldn’t have an entire village listening to us. We sat in his bare room, and he shared part of his story. At times he was speechless. We were constantly interrupted by his master. This is what he said…
There are about 160,000 Solos (Forced Adult Laborers) in the Ivory Coast cocoa industry. The cocoa farmers themselves have trouble making a living, let alone paying workers, so they hire guys like Solo. One farmer told me that if he earned about one-half of one penny more per chocolate bar he would be able to provide his family…
I met a slave when I visited a cocoa farm in Ivory Coast researching WHERE AM I EATING.
His name is Solo.
Shortly after we first met, a villager began recording Solo teaching me how to harvest cocoa. (As a writer, it’s rare that I capture such poignant moments on video.) I began to ask Solo about his life, where he was from, what he gets paid, when certain disturbing facts came to light:
1) He called his boss “master”
2) He had worked 4 months and hadn’t been paid
3) He told me that the donkeys are treated better than he is because at least they get fed when they don’t work
John Sutter interviewed me about the Boy Scouts of America’s possible decision to allow gay scouts, but ban gay scout leaders in his well thought out essay on CNN. He quotes me:
The group’s attitudes on gay rights are “more out of style than the scout socks,” said Kelsey Timmerman, a former Eagle Scout who mailed his badge back to the organization because of its discriminatory policies.
“I never wore those damn socks,” he said, laughing.
If you want to know my thoughts on this whole issue, read John’s, that’s pretty much where I stand.
Earth Day 2013 marks the perfect day to start spreading the stories of the people I met on the global food adventure that became Where Am I Eating? These stories need told, and I’m honored to do it. I just hope I can do them justice.
Farmers let me into their lives to share their stories, and now it’s time to do that. I’ll be calling into radio programs all morning. Here’s my schedule.
I have a busy morning of national and regional radio programs tomorrow. If you get one of the shows below in your area, tune in to hear me talking about Where Am I Eating? I’ll be the one that sounds like a mix of Joe Dirt and Matthew McConaughey.
Recently, I caught up with my 4-year-old daughter Harper to get her take on the book. In this interview we discuss My Little Ponies, the state of China, and she takes me on the biggest trip of all…a guilt trip.
When J.R., the cofounder of the Facing Project hung up the phone after his call-in NPR interview about the Facing Project, I looked at him and said, “This just got real.”
And it had.
It’s one thing to have an idea in your head and it’s a whole other thing when others take that idea and run with it. Ft. Wayne is our first Facing Community to complete a project (4 other communities have projects underway). They’ve had art exhibits on Homelessness, this Thursday they’re reading monologues, and the Mayor of Ft. Wayne has even declared Thursday Facing Homelessness day.