Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Ethical Easter?

The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world.  Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice.  But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice.  ~Henry Knox Sherrill

I find it quite difficult to eat chocolate comfortably these days knowing that a child may have been ill-treated as a slave in the cocoa farms which were the origin of my chocolate.  Indeed this is the possible origin of 70% of the world's chocolate.  How did you feel at Easter consuming your chocolate Easter eggs?  Or perhaps you bought Fair Trade chocolate so you could indulge knowing that the economy of some family somewhere was being aided by your purchase in an equitable way.

We enjoy consuming Haigh's chocolate because they are superbly made, taste delicious, have brilliant displays in their stores, are local to us in South Australia and also support quality local causes.  They make a lovely Easter Bilby as seen above.  (Yes, it is still in the plastic wrapper and I really did take that photo just this morning.  Our family shares our chocolate and we enjoy it in the weeks following Easter.)  Part proceeds from the sale of Haigh's Chocolate Bilbies helps protect the Bilby's habitat through the work of the Foundation for a Rabbit Free Australia.  They also produced a Murray Cod this year to support this vulnerable species.  These were our Easter treats.

I was not entirely satisfied however, that our indulgence would be "child slave free" so I wrote to Haigh's indicating that "we are becoming increasingly concerned about the means by which chocolate is farmed.  We cannot sit comfortably with the fact that for us to indulge in chocolate a child has possibily been enslaved."  I asked them why they were not on this Good Chocolate Guide to Australia presented by World Vision.
The little white bunny in the photo will soon be given away as a random act of kindness on our behalf.  Ess and I didn't read very many kindnesses which were made before Easter.  We hope this is due to the fact that you simply didn't get back here to let us know rather than that there were no kindnesses carried out! So keep being kind and perhaps a little less busy ;)

Haigh's passed my email onto the Confectionery Manufacturers of Australasia who responded promptly to let me know what they are doing to change the lives of cocoa farming families in West Africa.  I find it quite encouraging but I still am not guaranteed that children are not being harmed.  Apparently "all Australian chocolate manufacturers are part of building an ethical supply chain through a holistic process called Certification that assesses labour and farming practices, implements remedial measures and then goes back to check on the progress."  The chocolate industry, local aid organisations and the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast are working together to educate and break the poverty cycle.  More details can be found on the CMA website - candy.  (The name leaves a little to be desired, would you agree? sshhhh, you cynic).

So it seems that work is being done.  Did you know about it?  Is the media telling us this?  Am I ignorant of the positives?  Or is it simply that the work is supposed to be being done so that we can continue to be ignorant consumers and indulge in chocolate no matter where and how the cocoa is being sourced?  We just need to be told that improvements are being made and trust that hopefully they are??

It comes down to publicity doesn't it.  We can only believe what we are told and then what we discover when we question this information.  Unless we actually go to Ghana and the Ivory Coast and see the children and the families working to make a living on their cocoa farms, we will never actually know the truth of the situation.

What are your thoughts? Do you buy Fair Trade chocolate?  Are you happy enough with the situation to leave it to the authorities and the government to sort out what they think is best?  Did you eat your easter eggs and give a second thought to where they came from?


Anonymous said...

I'll definitely vouch for the deliciousness of Haigh's - thank you Cee :)

And we now only buy Fair Trade. have done for quite a while.

That goes for tea and coffee too...

And we skipped the choc for Easter !

Cee said...

You are very fortunate to have been able to skip choc for Easter Dave. When you have children it's a whole new ball game - the whole issue of sweets and treats and eating in general!

We also love to bake, as you know, so we made some mud muffins (with fairtrade cocoa) with an egg in each one as a surprise. Ess and I loved sharing this surprise with Dad and Eee.

We will continue with fair trade choc and cocoa. Coffee and tea are gifts only in our house. Occasionally other things slip in though (like our Haighs treats) and it causes me to reflect.

Glad to hear you are so disciplined!

Love Cee

libby said...

I buy fair trade tea, coffee and chocolate when I can. However, I do love, and indulge in Haighs - it's my fav. dark chocolate so I'm glad to know they are trying to improve things.


Homestay Mama said...

Loved your post today, Cee. If I were only buying for myself, I'd definitely buy fair trade! But being retired with three homestay students to feed, I just can't do it! As for chocolate bunnies--I don't indulge, but I don't have little kids in my home, either!

I was happy to see you mention World Vision. They are one of the charities that I support monthly. I sponsor a little girl from Guatemala through their program.

I'm sorry I didn't do any acts of kindness and get over to your blog to write about it. Well, let me clarify that--I always try to be kind, and I'm sure I have been, but I didn't intentially do some act of kindness that I could write about. Not that I didn't want to, but I just didn't have time to think about what to do! I'm sorry. That probably sounds lame.

And finally, Cee, come over to my blog--I have a surprise waiting for you!


Cee said...

LIbby I am glad you found that information useful. We will be going back to our fair trade chocolate after Easter although we did enjoy our haighs. Would have loved to have tried their 70% dark egg? Did you?

Homestay Mama, I am thrilled to have been the winner of your giveaway. How exciting. Thanks so much. I am sure there are many of us in your situation - trying to be kind but not devoting time to be intentional about it. That is actually what I loved about my daughter's approach to lent through your school classroom. It made me think more about it all.

Julie said...

Hi Cee,
Thanks for the link to the Candy site (and no, you're not the only cynical one LOL). It's interesting but I see a lot of the word "committed" but not a lot of the HOW they are going to go about it. I have to wonder why they are going through their own certification process when the FairTrade system is already providing the same outcomes? Excuse my cynicism (again) but I have to wonder if it more about words than it is about action? Hmmm. I think if it was possible for two other Aussie companes to use FairTrade cocoa in making their chocolate, it should be possible for all? I think we will stick to FairTrade for the moment, but keep up the pressure on othe companies like Haigh's.

Cheers, Julie

Cee said...

Oh Julie I do agree with your ponderings and consider that perhaps they are going with a more general approach because they simply won't be able to meet the stringent standards of Fair Trade - much to my dismay.

We will stick to fair trade as well and I will be back in touch with Haighs.

Thanks for commenting here Julie.


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