Chocolate matters

I watched an article on Newsnight last week about the exploitation of child labour on the cocoa farms of the Ivory coast. The BBC web site recently posted a similar article about how child Cocoa workers are still exploited. The likelihood is that the chocolate we eat day-to-day is made at least in part from cocoa beans grown on farms where children are slaves.

Frankly this is shocking – that thousands of children are still being forced to work as slaves so that one luxury product for us can be a few pence cheaper. As always the issues are complex, and need the government’s involvement, are greatly exacerbated by corruption, are ultimately caused by extreme poverty and will not be easily solved. But my heart goes out to these children who face grave risks and are forced to work with no reward for what reason? Surely more can be done?

Fortunately there is some chocolate that is guaranteed to be ‘traffik free’, such as fair trade chocolate – see the Stop The Traffik website for more details. I’m often a bit lethargic about campaigns, but I just can’t rest in my heart in being lethargic about this. I think we should all refuse to buy any chocolate that might be produced as a result of child labour. Effectively this limits us to buying fair trade chocolate and fair trade chocolate products.

This involves some sacrifice. Only buying fair trade chcoclate bars isn’t so hard – they’re a bit more expensive, but usually taste nicer! But I also like food with chocolate in it. Shortly after seeing this news item I went to Tesco for the weekly shop – great they have some Value plain chocolate digestives I thought! Then I thought, oh no, it’s not traffik-free chocolate. In fact there are far fewer fair trade chocolate products. In the end I had to buy biscuits without any chocolate in them. I can tell you that they’re getting eaten a lot slower. But sometimes we need to do something, no matter how simple or small it is, in the hope that this one day may make a difference. If I don’t, what will I be able to say to my Lord – and the child slave’s Lord too.

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