And, of course, I had to buy the "good candy." None of that cheapo chocolate for us. I insisted upon buying the bag that had Twix, Kit Kats, and Reece cups. Oh and then the other bag because it has Almond Joys in it. Because, you know, I really care about the children in my neighborhood and I wanted to be remembered as a house that had good candy.
And then a few years ago, I was shocked to learn that the vast majority of American chocolate was farmed by children. In slavery or close-to-slavery conditions. I thought to myself, "The companies must not know!"
I'm naive sometimes.
Turns out, the major chocolate companies here in America are fully aware that the farms where they buy their cocoa use child slave labor. They were told back in 2001. And they've done very little about it, other than to rally together to prevent legislation that would have required a label to tell consumers which chocolate was produced without slave labor (you can read more about this here - I blogged in more detail last Christmas). A few, including Nestle and Mars, signed something saying they'll work towards total eradication of child slave labor by 2008. That was five years ago and it's still happening. I think Mars at least has signed a new one with the new goal of 2020.
|Photo from The Dark Side of Chocolate|
Our children's Halloween chocolate comes at the expense of another child. This is happening y'all.
This is happening so that we can dress our kids up in fun costumes and eat yummy chocolate.
This is happening because we just really love Kit Kats (and I really do love them - I get it.)
This is happening because our chocolate companies are continuing to use forced child labor.
It's happening because we are letting it happen.
I want to blame the chocolate companies. Okay, I do blame the chocolate companies. But you know what? They sell chocolate because someone is buying chocolate. If we refused to buy it, the companies would be in a pickle, wouldn't they?
What if we supported fair-trade companies? What if this year for Halloween, we gave out responsibly-sourced chocolates? I don't know about you, but I would feel a million times better about Halloween candy if I knew some families were choosing not to give out chocolate that was produced by child slave-labor. As much as I love chocolate, it just no longer tastes good to me when I know that children the same age as my kids had to farm it in terrible conditions. That takes the sweet right out of my beloved Almond Joy.
And I've told my kids. Not all the gory details, but I want them to know. Riley loves Twix (since we only buy fair-trade, he just got his first one at school this year!). I don't blame him. But when I told him about how Twix are made, he was pretty upset. And he and I have searched the internet to find our own Twix recipe so we can make our own using fair-trade chocolate. He's happy we can do something to rectify the situation (and still have our sweet treat, of course).
Want to join us and do something about it this Halloween? Oh, good - I knew you would! :)
You can get 150 fair-trade mini chocolates from Equal Exchange. They are on sale right now for $24.99. Add a candy bar for yourself to your cart to make your total more than $25 and you can use this coupon code to get free shipping AND 10% off: friendofee. Is this more than I usually spend on Halloween candy? Yes. But you know what, we will still be able to put dinner on the table tonight.
Milk Chocolate with a hint of hazelnut:
Or just swing by your local EarthFare or Whole Foods and see what they have in their candy aisles. You'll find some fair-trade chocolates to hand out on Halloween, I promise.
Want more resources? Check these out:
Watch The Dark Side of Chocolate. This is a documentary about where our chocolate comes from. I'm fairly certain you can find the actual documentary on youtube.
Check out Rage Against the Minivan's blog post about ways to handle an ethical Halloween. She has really great, practical ideas plus a link to another post she did detailing more about the chocolate situation: