Our stand: Fairly traded chocolate bars
(This information is also on the fairly traded page.)
As we say on our home page, we believe in the method of choosing a single issue and a manageable degree, then drawing that line and committing- arbitrary or not. These daily acts replace judgmental subconscious messages with self-love and appreciation- because you need that to continue changing the world for the better- and this world needs you in good shape.
Here is a personal example which is a work in progress. The arbitrary stand of the Fairly traded chocolate bar (and growing).
Pretty recently we learned that chocolate from certain countries is made by abused workers, including small children captured and forced to work as slaves, sometimes dying in the fields. We realized that by buying brands of chocolate using those countries, we were effectively saying “Yes, the $2 savings on my indulgence of a chocolate bar is worth killing a few children over.” Um…
Obviously that stopped us in our tracks when the situation became clear. Just look at these pictures!
Praying hands. What are they praying for? Me to have cheaper chocolate, or them to have their kids not die picking cocoa beans?
The card with the chocolate praying hands features the serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” How’s that for ironic? This entire thing could be changed by consumers with little effort- and R.M. Palmer certainly has a choice.
We’re using the example of R.M. Palmer company because we found those ironic Easter cards. Please see our legal policy on naming names. Any industrial supplier that uses child trafficking labor, or company using them is fair game here.
We called R.M. Palmer to see if they use Ivory Coast chocolate. The answer is yes- as you will hear if you listen to this quick audio: Voicemail from R.M. Palmer customer service representative.
The industrial suppliers she named, Cargill and ADM, per her message use beans from Ivory Coast, Indonesia, and Ghana. Cargill and ADM use child-trafficking slave-trade to get their chocolate according to this non-profit based in London.
Here is a link to check your chocolate compiled by the University of California, San Diego. Please forget the right column regarding where to buy. There are other national chains who have fairly trade chocolate, and we haven’t seen a big store yet that didn’t carry slave-chocolate too so we have no favorites there.
Of course it isn’t true that we wanted kids to die for our cheap chocolate! Who does? At the point that we knew what was going on, our subconscious minds started in- before it fully dawned on us that we were commissioning this sorrow.
Our society does not see this ethic at all- not for our church bake sales, scout cookies, little league candy bars, or brownie sales for the troops. It’s a little odd, don’t you think? You mustn’t judge yourself when reality is first sinking in. It really is our society and only after you know can you possibly be expected to change.
Okay, so now what? We might have just lost our favorite ice cream, favorite cookies… and since Organic can sometimes include better trade practices because it’s in high demand and usually not industrial, we just don’t know unless we check their websites or call. (By the way, as a rule, the $2 extra is well spent on chocolate that is fairly traded organic by quality alone…)
When it comes down to the stand we’ve taken itself, we are 100% fairly traded chocolate for chocolate bars, chocolate chips, and cocoa. If you offer us any of these from non fairly-traded sources we’ll most likely remember and turn them down but sometimes we forget if we’re not shopping. I would guess I won’t again after the simple act of writing this. It seems as if we’ve made nearly our last “exception” for a few bulk candies though- I passed them up the last three times until they had some that were fairly traded Organics. We are starting to hold companies accountable- as consumers, we now have expectations we didn’t before.
Then one wonders, why do these other companies get to beat out desirable companies in price by using slaves? By stealing and working children to death!? Recently, a few of these desirable brands were bought out by the perpetrators for exactly that reason- the incredible advantage they have from being criminals. The way to tell when a cute ethical brand was destroyed financially then consumed is when you see it multiply across the shelves, now with flavor after flavor, two rows each. That is the mark of a predatory company.
Our new habits are not a matter of discipline- we lose our appetites for something we think is seedy, just like we would for stale or overpriced food. That is what we mean when we say that it blooms inside. I believe that sometime in the next year, possibly very soon, we won’t buy anything but fairly traded chocolate.
The other day I actually snarled at some product as I walked by it. It was very brief and quiet, but it was a real out-loud snarl, like a dog to another dog… only it was me, in the store, at an oblivious chocolate syrup. When I caught myself it made me laugh (and look around). That was when I knew I definitely have an ethic taking root!
I don’t know if anyone else could even understand from reading this account- but the entire process I’ve described has been an absolute joy.