Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chocolate and Child Slavery

For a lot kids, Halloween is a damn good time. Tricked out in a costume, kids go door-to-door for free treats, then come home to Mom or Dad (hopefully) examining the candy before a veritable orgy of sugar consumption. For many chocolate manufacturers, Halloween is their Christmas - profits soar as citizens participate in a holiday of which the purchase of candy is an essential feature. I live in a co-op where very few families live, so after one quiet Halloween, I've stopped buying bags of candy for trick-or-treaters. I do cruise the streets of my mother's neighborhood with my 2 year-old son, so one way or another, snack size candies make their way into my house (and eventually, into my belly).

Kristen Howerton's topical piece on chocolate and child slavery, and a BBC documentary have completely made me averse to the purchase or consumption of any goods manufactured by the major chocolate companies, Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and the US division of Cadbury (the British Cadbury tastes completely different, trust me!). 284,000 children on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other countries in Africa are employed as workers and, for many of them, were ripped from their families and sold as slaves. (By the way, Hershey's had its fair share of controversy - like their modern version of indentured servitude)
I guess one can literally be enslaved to chocolate. 

Slavery for chocolate. This is craziness.

What's more, the International Labor Rights Fund sued the American government for not enforcing laws that prohibit the import of commodities made by child labor. The chocolate industry, in response, has offered free-trade products in addition to the stuff made by kids. That's like having a brothel in a church.

I cannot wait for the gems I will inevitably hear from cognitive dissonance to justify the continued purchase and consumption of these products.

Jonathan will go trick-or-treating this year, but those chocolates will end up in the trash during my screening process. It sucks that on one end of the world, kids are literally slaving away so that kids on the other end can enjoy a holiday.

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