I wanted to share a bit of information that I recieved via a friend of mine about the candy industry, particularly the industry surrounding chocolate that uses child labour or slave labour in poor countries. This issue is now at the place where the coffee trade was seven to ten years ago and it only took a raising of awareness to get people to massively switch from non-fair trade to fair trade coffee suppliers and vendors. Starbucks, Whole Foods, Green Mountain and other producers were instrumental in helping this come to pass.
On this site is more information and a list of companies that either use organic and/or fair trade chocolate. Conspicuously abssent from these are the top suppliers and vendors of Chocolate in the US, EU UK, etc. Hershey is by far the worst about this. They incited chocolate growers to grow much more cocoa, guaranteeing these Ghanan cocoa farmers a certain price. Hershey when they had succeedd to flood the market with cocoa, thus driving the price down in the market, then lowballed those same growers to a price that was one third less than what they were guaranteed by Hershey. The growers in that country let the crop rot in the fields before they would sell it to the hucksters at Hershey. The industry suffered a very long time as a result of this blantant market manipulation.
Here is a more recent PDF showing the progress of several companies on this important issue.
I have already Tweeted and Re-Tweeted about this on Twitter, as well as posted to other social boards that I am on in order to bring attention to this issue. While we are quickly approaching the time that we are buying candy for Halloween, or just indulging in that snack, ask your server, ask your grocer, or even ask yourself, “Is this fair trade chocolate?” before you indulge.
Hopefully by raising awareness we can change this industry for the better, too. Right now, a cheap chocolate bar is two dollars, roughly for the same size of a more expensive chocolate, fair trade chocolate that sells often for twice as much. So we the consuming public buy a luxury consumption item half as often as we would in the interests of making sure that workers that harvested the raw materials used to make that luxury item that you get maybe a few moments of pleasure from. Maybe there is something to be said for ‘value added’ or conscious consumption – or simply not patronising those companies that use exploited labour.
I absolutely refuse to contribute to an industry that benefits from the enforced labour of others. If that m eans that I give up chocolate, so be it. For myself, (and I am not trying to guilt anyone, really) I cannot imagine from just an ethical standpoint why this would be a difficult decision for anyone. But that is jsut me. The biggest things we ever have to overcome to changing the reality of something like this are public awareness and then public apathy. Public apathy is by far the worst and voting with our dollars is a very effective way to get companies to sit up and take notice. But it isn’t if people just decide that it’s too much of a bother, too expensive or just do not care. How can anyone not care about slavery in the 21st Century?
I’m just trying to raise awareness, here. Ultimately, it’s the individual who is going to decide themselves what to do or not; and I leave that totally to them.
Crossposted to magickalalchemy