The Spooky Side of Chocolate
Ask this fair trader what her favorite month is and she’ll be quick to answer:
Here are the many reasons why:
- It’s FAIR TRADE MONTH, y’all!!! That means that the whole of the FT community is amped up with fair trade advocacy and campaigns! Fair Trade Campaigns has: Go Bananas! Fair Trade USA has the social media #befair campaign! (I won fair trade Chai, y’all… twice!) and we at Ten Thousand Villages of Austin have:
- One Reason Why: A Fair Trade Art Show! One Reason Why is our biggest fundraiser of the year! Get your tickets here!
- Cooler weather: More pleasant dog walking conditions
- My mom’s birthday… I really love my mom
- Halloween! and all the tricks and treats it brings… Namely: Chocolate!
Now we all know that chocolate tastes amazing, you may even know that chocolate has some startling health benefits , and now you know that it originated in Central America and was named by the Mayans as: “the food of the Gods,” but not many people know where the chocolate in our goodie bags come from now-a-days.
Over 60% of chocolate bars and candies that Americans are familiar with are from the West African countries of Ghana and the Ivory Coast; many of the cacao beans are cultivated by children forced into labor… Chew on that for awhile… think of your childhood Halloweens, joyfully picking out all the chocolate pieces to enjoy A.S.A.P.- darkly contrasted with the life of a 9 year old child slave in the Ivory Coast who has never tasted the fruit of his back breaking labor.
There are over 200,000 estimated child slaves in the Ivory Coast alone, where over 40% of the worlds chocolate is produced. In fact, a 2011 report conducted by Tulane University estimated that there are about 1.8 million children (under the age of 15) working on cocoa bean farms in West Africa. Children are often tricked, sold or trafficked into labor from bordering countries of Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Mali.
These numbers are horrifying; but the beautiful thing about fair trade is that it provides consumers with the power to empower instead of exploit. Today is the perfect day to start your life as an empowered consumer!!
So, in celebration of the finest and funnest month of the year, I challenge you to:
- Fair Trade your Halloween! Buy a box of 150 Dark of Milk Chocolate minis for $35 to hand out to Trick or Treaters this year and receive a free door or window sing to adorn your home:
- Allow you children to participate in advocacy by taking them Reverse Trick or Treating this year. When children receive candy, they can hand back some fair trade chocolate with information on the problems in the cocoa industry.
- Take Action with Free the Slaves and spread the word! Be an advocate for change and freedom for the more than 27 million people living in slavery!
- Take time to watch the documentary: The Dark Side of Chocolate and/or read Kevin Bales Disposable People to learn more about modern day slavery and what you can do to stop it.
- Vow to only eat slave free-fair trade chocolate from now on! With classics like Equal Exchange Organic Dark Chocolate with Almonds and new favorites like Organic Lemon Ginger Black Pepper it’ll be all treats and no tricks from here on out!
- BE YOU! Make the change to a fair trade lifestyle
in a way that works best for you; substitute your sugar for fair trade sugar (available in Wal-Mart, Target, HEB, etc.) and build from there, ask your local barista if they serve fair trade coffee & start a conversation about fair trade, buy second hand clothing and accent your look with striking fair trade statement pieces! Be the Change you wish to see in the world!
Wishing all you ghoulies and goblins the best very best this Fair Trade Month!