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?