About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Chocolate Covered Misery
You've seen the appeals for child sponsors to help support underprivileged children in developing countries, how you can make a difference to their lives and their families lives as well. Maybe even a few of you reading this even sponsor a child somewhere, and quite rightly feel good about helping overcome poverty, giving someone a chance in life.

So how would you feel if every time you bought a certain product, this act, your purchase, was in fact keeping children in slavery?

You may not want to read this if you happen to love chocolate; I feel as if I've just been slapped. I knew about Fair Trade, but had never really thought too deeply about it, other than the knowledge it helped struggling farmers to get a better price for their crops, whatever they were, where ever they were. But to think that I have played a part in keeping children in virtual slave labour by simply buying chocolate, is making me feel sick.

I sort of feel like Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense, when at the denouement, he realized all along the signs were there that he was dead and in fact a ghost, but as the boy told him, you only see what you want to see. Whereas once I saw a treat, now I see misery. That sucks.

Whenever you buy a chocolate bar or chocolate that is not Fair Trade, you need to think not just about the chocolate, but what are you really buying with your money, the answer is not pretty.

Think about it.

Edited to add: Well, I did think about it a bit more and came to the conclusion that it probably isn't a great idea to abandon overnight one's chocolate buying habits. Imagine what would happen if everyone suddenly started buying Fair Trade, what would happen to those very people we want to help, that don't supply to Fair Trade? At the moment, they are at least surviving, which may not be the case if everyone stopped buying the chocolate they produced. In Australia, Fair Trade chocolate isn't widely available, but if we bought it every chance we had, it should enable a slow change towards better practices regarding people who rely on chocolate to at least stay alive.
  posted at 11:45 am

At 4:34 pm, Anonymous kathryn said...

Neil thanks for posting this link - that's appalling reading. I tend to think of the environmental positives of "fair trade", but forget that it's also about ensuring fair working practices for humans as well.

Fair trade it is from now on.

At 10:25 pm, Blogger Lydia said...

Thank you for posting this -- an important reminder to "think before you eat."

At 9:55 am, Blogger Cindy said...

I have noticed Green and Black's chocolate (now owned by Cadbury, but still certified to uphold Fair Trade practices) in my local Safeway, which is helping me to make this choice a habit.

My understanding of economics may be very naive, but hopefully as the demand for Fair Trade products increases, there will be motivation for companies that are currently not Fair Trade to improve their practices and remain competitive.

At 10:56 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I only buy fair trade coffee but I didn't know to look for the label on chocolate. I do believe that buying habits make a difference. Thanks Neil.

At 2:16 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi kathryn, it was a pretty sobering read, especially when I have kids of my own. Slavery has been going on for a long time, but I'm sure not going to help keep anyone under those conditions. I'm also a bit surprised that the politicians haven't done a bit more, liking banning products from known sources that condone these practices, maybe it's up to us to put some pressure on.

Hi lydia, too true, but it's important to have all the information as well. I was blisfully unaware, but no more.

Hi cindy, thanks for that, I had no idea what to look out for. Your understanding of economics looks alright to me. Perhaps just one headline like,"Chocolate Multinational supports slavery!" might help too.

Hi tanna, you're welcome. It will be a new habit for me, but I want to make a difference.

At 5:46 pm, Anonymous Sophie said...

Hi Neil, I thought you might be interested in hearing about a blog event to raise awareness of this issue (by eating lots of Fairtrade chocolate, naturally!). It's being organised by Rachel at RKhooks:

At 8:52 am, Blogger gigi said...

So often it seems that for every luxury enjoyed by the fortunate, the less so must suffer. It doesn't have to be like this.

So ~ Cadbury's it is from now on. Thanks.

At 9:35 am, Blogger Cindy said...

Just to clarify based on Gigi's comment - I don't think Cadbury is fair trade, just Green & Black's brand (which happens to be owned by them). Always look for this logo on the wrapper!

At 3:44 pm, Blogger gigi said...

Oh! See ~ I would not have known. I'm not familiar with Green & Blacks brand, and just assumed...

I will look for that logo. Thanks again. :)

At 2:39 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi sophie, thanks for that, if I have time, will definitely do something about a post.

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