Each year, two million West African children are sold, kidnapped, or trafficked into slavery to harvest the cocoa beans that make chocolate. No matter how much I like chocolate (and believe me, I LOVE chocolate!) I don’t want that guilt on my conscious! This Halloween, we all have a chance to make a difference by avoiding chocolate products that use these cocoa beans in their products.
A 2010 report by the State Department and published by Green America gave the Hershey chocolate company an F for their fair trade and labor practices. Despite five years of consumer requests, Hershey still has no protocol whatsoever to deal with issues involving child labor or other fair trade practices (such as paying a fair wage to farmers, safe working conditions, or responsibility and sustainability when it comes to environmental issues). The other big chocolate makers – Kraft, Mars, and Nestle didn’t fair much better, receiving various levels of D for their performance.
So you have a few options. You can either contribute to child labor and other heinous practices by continuing to buy chocolate from the traditional chocolate makers this Halloween, or you can buy with your conscious instead. Sure, it costs a bit more, but I think children are worth it. If you don’t want to spend the extra money, you don’t have to sit in the dark pretending that you’re not home! Instead, consider forgoing chocolate altogether and use hard candies or give trinkets like temporary tattoos instead. But if you do decide on chocolate, consider some of these options for fair trade and labor chocolate.
Please note that all the companies listed below offer products that are Fair Labor certified. According to the certifying agency, this means that:
“Fair Trade prohibits forced labor, child labor, and discrimination, and protects freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. Certified farmers are guaranteed a Fair Trade floor price for their cocoa beans as well as a social premium. Fair Trade producers are required to form democratic cooperatives that administer the social premium based on a democratic process. In order to use the Fair Trade label, 100% of the primary ingredient must be certified.”
Equal Exchange offers a box of 150 mini dark chocolate bars for $29.75. That comes out to less than 20 cents each! If you get tons of Trick-or-Treaters, you can opt for 888 mini bars for $148.75. That’s just 16 cents apiece. Orders over $75 get free shipping. Equal Exchange also offers fund-raising items for sale to benefit your school or church.
Coco-zen offers a bag of 50 milk, bittersweet, or half and half chocolates wrapped and decorated for Halloween for $25.00. The bittersweet chocolate is vegan! That is about 50 cents per piece. Shipping is an extra $8.
Sjaaks offers a variety of flavored bite-sized chocolates in either 1.5 or 3 pound tub sizes. You can choose between flavors like almond, peanut butter, raspberry, mint, and caramel. Some flavors are vegan! Each 1.5 pound tub contains about 93 pieces and sells for $33. That’s about 35 cents per piece of candy. Each 3 pound tub of specialty candy (heart shaped or hazelnut, to name a few) contains about 100 pieces for $65. Shipping varies, depending on your exact location.
Sweet Earth Chocolates offers a bag filled with 100 Halloween-decorated chocolate discs in your choice of milk, bittersweet, or half and half for $50. They also offer a bag of 50 chocolates (same flavor options) for $25.00. Shipping varies according to your exact location.