I read a recent post on Chocolate by Heather Hendrick who is currently doing a blog series on Ethical Buying you might want to check out.
I had that sinking feeling as I read it that it was going to bring awareness I would prefer to ignore even if I can't un-know it. And although I had an inkling of the "issues" with chocolate (and coffee etc) she put it out there in an accessible and difficult to ignore way.
As I have been thinking about it and doing some of my own reading and as Halloween fever approaches I think bringing awareness to this issue has merit.
"UNICEF estimates that nearly a half-million children work on farms across the Ivory Coast, which produces nearly 40% of the world’s supply of cocoa. The agency says hundreds of thousands of children, many of them trafficked across borders, are engaged in the worst forms of child labor."
In January, 2012 CNN released an article, "Child Slavery and Chocolate: All too easy to Find." In this piece a boy named Abdul is mentioned. He's 10 years old. He's been working in the cocoa fields since he was 7. He's never tasted chocolate. After his mother died, he was brought to one of the cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast. All he's given is a little food, the tattered clothes on his back, and an occasional tip from a farmer. Abdul is a modern child slave."
The truth is, most of the chocolate Canadian and American families will buy and consume this Halloween will be harvested by child slaves.
If you want to really educate yourself this BBC documentary exposes this issue. These children and their stories are real.
What if we opted out of chocolate this year or decided to only pass out Fair Trade or organic chocolate? Almost all organic chocolate companies guarantee their supply chains are free of child slaves. Opting out of slave-harvested chocolate doesn't mean we can't participate in Halloween. There are other alternatives. There are fair trade chocolate companies who value their farmers. Saying "No" to chocolate harvested by enslaved children doesn't mean we can't love and serve our communities this fall. Thankfully there are many other options and products to hand out during Halloween that do not contain chocolate and are not made by the same chocolate companies who are utilizing modern-day slaves in their supply chains.
Like Heather, I'm really grateful companies that value their farmers and refuse to oppress the poor exist.
The first time I ever ate a fairly-traded chocolate bar (and an organic chocolate bar) I realized they are infinitely better than any of the other varieties of chocolate. This shouldn't be surprising. Companies who refuse to enslave children (or anyone) in order to make their chocolate are naturally going to care more about people and their product. Their chocolate is incredible. It's rich. It's creamy. It's nothing like the other stuff.
Our kids are "over" Halloween so we plan to join friends at the pool and eat pizza and stay out of the fray.
What do you think? What will you do?