Have you ever wanted to UN-know something? Like when you finally make the connection that your parents have actually had sex, more than once. Or at the end of Return of the Jedi when you realize that Luke Skywalker had been seriously crushing on his own sister… ew!
This week one of my favourite bloggers put me in that horrific position again. I was both amused and self-righteous upon reading her blog about Cheap Coffee. Since I neither drink it, nor can I even stand the smell, this was a safe and easy topic for me. The follow-up she posted the next day, however, was a shot to the heart.
I had heard hints of it before, but wrote it off as one of those over-reactive issues for people on the fringe: radical students, hippie men with dreadlocks and angry women in sensible shoes. Maybe I didn’t look too closely because I didn’t want to know.
If you prefer not to disturb your comfortable life, stop reading now.
Are you still reading because you are nosy and curious? I’m not kidding, this could change your life. And you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
Enough foreplay… now brace yourself. There is a problem with chocolate.
I can overlook the calories (and as you can clearly see, I often do). I can simply choose not to think about the non-organic ingredients. But I cannot be part of child slavery.
That’s right: 60% of the cocoa beans used by the major chocolate companies such as Hersheys, Mars, Nestle and others are from countries that often use child labour in the cocoa fields. More than 100,000 chidlren of the Ivory Coast are driven to it by extreme poverty. Others are stolen from their families and sold into a life of back-breaking labour and dangerous working conditions. All so huge corporations can rake in 80 billion dollars of profit each year and I can enjoy something sweet at the movies.
I have been asking God to show me something I can do, in the middle of my busy life, to make the world better. I did that very day, in fact. I have every advantage – power, wealth, education, free healthcare (go Canada!)… but it is not because I am better, smarter or more deserving. I simply happen to be born in a position of power. I could have been born in West Africa, and then I may have spent my childhood picking the beans instead of eating smarties.
I am a total chocoholic. And not the classy, grown up, thin wafer of dark chocolate after dinner. No siree, I want a big old chocolate bar: aero, oh henry, mars bar, dairy milk… a handful of chocolate chips if all else fails. But I’m also a mom.
How can I enjoy my favourite treat when I know there are children suffering for it? This seems like a crazy and radical stunt to even consider; like foregoing showers to reduce my carbon footprint, wearing clothes made entirely out of hemp, or selling all my possessions and giving the money to the poor.
Giving up chocolate? That doesn’t sound like me at all. But I’m definitely considering it. I’ve started the research and so far this is more than just a trendy hipster concern. If nothing else, the halloween bowl at our house will be filled with non-chocolate treats this year.
We each have to follow our own conscience. Perhaps this isn’t your fight. If you decide to whip out a chocolate bar in my presence, you need feel no guilt. There will be no judgment from me… though I may vault over the table to lick it off your fingers; hopefully this won’t make you too uncomfortable.
So here’s me, stocking up on fair trade chocolate. Read The Best News Ever to hear more about our family’s decision to fight child slavery and still eat delicious chocolate at a reasonable price.
Here it is, the blog that broke my heart: here, let me ruin Halloween for you
and the BBC Documentary that helped…