How to Keep Trick or Treat Fair Trade
There's the obvious reason that parents shudder when they think of the gluttonous haul of candy that their Trick or Treaters will amass at month's end: the empty calories and wild sugar buzz that will send kids into a frenzy for weeks thereafter. But there is another, more hidden, reason that we ought to think twice about while we are distributing commercially-produced candy this Hallow's Eve: the poor working conditions that go into making much of the Western world's chocolate.
As Simple Mom blog points out, "The majority of chocolate in our stores is because of forced child labor. So this means the majority of the chocolate candy in your kids' Halloween bag will be there because of forced child labor, and often child slavery." She goes on to describe how lawmakers in the U.S. tried to enact laws to require change when it was revealed in 2001 that children were being used as cheap labor in West African Cocoa farms, where the majority of the world's cocoa comes from, and where brands like Hershey, Nestle, Mars and Cadbury purchase their cocoa. Check out another article here from RageAgainsttheMiniVan.com that covers the issue in-depth (with videos that make up the 5-part series called "Chocolate: The Bitter Truth)".
So, how does this apply to your Halloween routine? Opt not to dole out the standard Halloween chocolate this year and instead choose to serve up Fair Trade offerings. No, that doesn't mean you have to hand out $9 chocolate bars from Whole Foods. Simple Mom shares a host of bite-sized options that are conscious choices, including our friends at Endangered Species Chocolate, who have bags of dark or milk chocolate in Halloween serving sizes. Endangered Species Chocolate buys their cacao from small family-owned properties that meet their ethical trade criteria, ensuring farmers humane working conditions and a fair price for their crop. They also donate 10% of net profits to environmental non-profits that are focused on wildlife conservation and habitat preservation. (Their Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almond bars also helped fuel many a long day and night in the Wanderlust production offices this summer!)
Other smart choices when looking for ethical options for trick or treaters include the Fair Trade Halloween Kit from Equal Exchange, Sjaak Organic Chocolate's Halloween Peanut Butter bites, and if you want to offer something non-chocolate but still organic, both Stretch Island's Organic Fruit Leather and YumEarth's Lollipops are other bag-filling options on October 31. Canadians might be interested in checking out the Canadian Fair Trade Network's Halloween program whereby you can fundraise for your community group or yoga studio by encouraging people to buy bite-sized Halloween Fair Trade chocolates from Camino.
As with most products we buy, it is worth taking the extra step to find out how some of our favorite foods are sourced and produced. The thought of any child's labor going into a product that eventually gets peddled for our own children's delight is just not sanctionable, and if you want to learn more about Fair Trade products across the board, take a moment to check out Fair Trade USA and Fair Trade International, and for Halloween inspiration check out www.fairtradehalloween.org.