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Trick-or-Treating Minus the Slavery

Trick-or-Treating Minus the Slavery

With Halloween quickly approaching, most of us are running around trying to find costumes and stock up on candy for the wee ones that will barrage our doors in their tiny costumes. Everyone wants make sure the little ghosts, princesses, supper heroes, and other characters are greeted with a sweet treat. But what if you’re handing them a sweet that was made at the price of another child? Chances are, it was.

Last year Americans spent nearly two billion dollars on Halloween candies and treats. While it frightening to think of this financial cost, the real fright is that much of the stuff is produced by children and slave labor. The Cocoa industry often traffics children to work as slaves, according to UNICEF (The United Nation’s Children’s Fund). In West Africa, 200,000 children are living in conditions of forced labor and slavery on cocoa farms.  Much of our chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast, which, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO) produces 43% of the worlds cocoa.  According to the ILO, over 132 million children, aged 5-14 years old, work in agriculture around the world, they are just a segment of an the estimated 246 million child laborers around the globe. Therefore the really frightening Halloween story this year is that your chocolaty treats may come at the price of child’s life.  Children trafficked to work in the fields or cocoa processing are are placed in hazardous working conditions in order to ensure that we have our chocolate treats.

In the United States, the chocolate industry is worth some $13 billion and is led by Hershey’s and M&M Mars, who control two-thirds of the consumer market. Sadly, both Hershey’s and M&M Mars use large amounts of cocoa harvested in the Ivory Coast, and therefore their products may be tainted by slavery. Other companies who face this risk include, ADM Cocoa, Ben & Jerry’s, Cadbury Ltd., Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut, Fowler’s Chocolate, Godiva, Guittard Chocolate Company, Kraft, Nestle, See’s Candies, The Chocolate Vault, and Toblerone.  However, some of these companies, such as Ben & Jerry’s and Clif Bar, have begun to include Fair Trade into some of their products.

However, there are many chocolate companies that have gone to the lengths needed to ensure that they do not use cocoa that has produced with slave labor. Last year, Cadbury and Mars made a commitment to ending child slavery in Africa by buying Fair Trade. Hershey has continued to ignore the public campaigns and continues to fail to participate in any certification programs to track its global supply chain and institute labor standards for its cocoa suppliers.  You can learn more on Hershey from the International Labor Rights Forum and join others to call and demand that Hershey step-up and take action to protect children and ensure their products are slave free.

Companies that are certified include:

Trick-or-Treating Minus the Slavery

Image: Global Exchange

So when your doorbell rings on Halloween, you can hand out Fair Trade CertifiedTM treats, which represents a guaranteed fair income for workers who spend their days in the cocoa fields. And you won’t be haunted by purchasing products tainted by slavery.

Fair Trade Trick or Treating not only allows you to do the ‘right thing’ but gives you an opportunity to educate others, especially children, about human rights issues, such as child labor and modern slavery. So why not talk to the other parents and teachers at school and convince your whole block to go Fair Trade this year!  Equal Exchange provides an information flyer on Reverse Trick-or-Treating, which you can download.

So pass out those Fair Trade treats to all the little witches and goblins this year and bring light to a worthy and just cause this Halloween, while still enjoying all the fun and yummy goodness.

By promoting and purchasing Fair Trade this Halloween you help:

  • END poverty among cocoa farmers
  • END abusive child labor in the cocoa industry
  • PROMOTE Fair Trade
  • PROTECT the environment

Here are a few options to obtain Fair Trade chocolates in mini sizes this Halloween, if you cannot find them in your local stores:

  • The Equal Exchange minis that have been attached to the Reverse Trick-or-Treating kits are available in various quantities, such as; 12 oz bags or 8.82 lb. case
  • Dagoba has mini sized treats perfect for the little ones
  • SERRV International offers smaller-sized chocolates that may be appropriate for trick-or-treaters
  • Divine chocolate also sells mini’s
  • You can also purchase treats at the Global Exchange Fair Trade Online Store;
  • Pure Fun Confections, which offers a variety of products including; cotton candy, candy canes, pinwheels, and lolly pops
  • Sencha Naturals has great green tea mints and bars
  • The Candy Blog also listed additional fair trade items and has a few stores in California
  • For other companies that sell full-sized Fair Trade Certified bars, baking chocolates, cocoa mix, and more, check the National Green Pages
  • If you are in the DC Metro area you can also visit either of the Ten Thousand Villages shops:
    • 915 King Street in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia (nearby King Street Metro) – (703) 684-1435
    • 4959 Elm Street, Bethesda, Maryland (nearby Bethesda Metro) – (301) 718-3465

Fittingly October is also Fair Trade Month, please see my post, Become a Conscious Consumer this October for Fair Trade Month and Impact Children, for more information.

Hear stories from the children who work in the cocoa fields from the International Cocoa Initiative,here.

Please also see previous posts on Child TraffickingChild Labor and fair trade such as, Fair Trade Trick-or-Treating and don’t forget to check out the following resource pages:

 

Author

Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.


Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict

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