"He has showed you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 NIV

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween and the Cocoa Bean Industry

Halloween is upon us. And as such, the chocolate industry is banking on the fact that Americans are going to buy their weight in Snickers, Butterfingers, Mounds, Kit Kats, Reeses peanut butter cups, and on and on we go.

Now, if you love these chocolate bars and do not want to part with them, you may not want to read any further.

But I am guessing, that if you have come to this blog, you are most likely someone who would rather know the truth, act compassionately in response to that knowledge, and come up with some creative alternatives for changing the way you "do" Halloween.

The International Labor Forum states the following:

Thousands of children in West Africa are forced to labor in the production of cocoa, chocolate’s primary ingredient. The West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is the leading supplier of cocoa, accounting for more than 40% of global production. Low cocoa prices and thus the need for lower labor costs drive farmers to employ children as a means to survive. The US Department of State estimates that more than 109,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry work under “the worst forms of child labor,” and that some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement.

Here are a couple more articles I recommend reading::

The first article gives you some great ideas for how to seek out some alternatives for what you purchase to pass out on Halloween, as well as very tangible ways to take action against child slave labor.

This is what my family has decided to do:

1. We are going to go to Trader Joe's and get what our budget can afford of organic lollipops. We will pass them out until they are gone, and then we are done and the porch light goes out.

2. We are going to let our daughters trick-or-treat, knowing full well they will be getting candy that is a result of child slave labor. My daughters will then trade that candy into me for either a toy, or they can pick out some Fair Trade candy at the store.

3. We will take their candy to one of our local businesses who send it off to our soldiers. And the money they make off this candy by trading it in goes into their "give to charity" envelope.

This is a realistic game plan for my family. Is it perfect? Certainly not, and there may come a time when my family might choose not to trick-or-treat and instead, throw a party.

I am sharing our family's game plan because I am aware that being committed to social justice issues as a family can be daunting, and as Gary Haugen of IJM says, as Americans, we go from "oblivion to the paralysis of despair."

The purpose of this blog is to encourage and empower families to make a difference in very informed and tangible ways.

We wish you a safe and slave labor-free Halloween.

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