Maybe it’s just because my birthday is October 30th, but I have always been a huge fan of Halloween–the bonfires, ghost stories, and, of course, candy. Something I became aware of when I learned about the Fair Trade movement, however, is what some have called “The Dark Side of Chocolate.”As it turns out, the growing, trading, and manufacturing of some of the chocolate treats we enjoy often depend on business practices which are hard to support, at best, and egregious, at worst. The documentary mentioned above finds evidence of child labor and slavery, trafficking, and other abuses existing on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, a country that produces nearly half the world’s cocoa.
So what can we do about it? The good news is that there are several companies, growing bigger and more numerous every year, who intentionally source fair-trade cocoa and rigorously sustain ethical production procedures. One of my favorites among these companies is Equal Exchange, whose founding story can be found here
. Also, there are some tasty treats to be discovered among Divine Chocolate
’s offerings of chocolate, fruit, and nuts. Some retailers that stock these brands include Ten Thousand Villages, Whole Foods, and Oxfam stores. In 2009, Cadbury also committed to sourcing fair-trade cocoa for many of its products as well, so keep an eye out for this symbol
on their chocolates.
Other than purchasing fair-trade chocolate and other treats, there are some other small, but significant actions we can take, like signing a petition to keep larger chocolate producers accountable to pledges they’ve made to amend their labor practices. Often, these efforts meet with some degree of success, but they need momentum to keep moving forward. So, Happy Halloween, and if you didn’t make it onto the fair-trade bandwagon for this holiday, there’s plenty of time for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter!