With Easter in just a few days time, anticipation in the Grendel household is at a fever pitch.
Junior Grendel Number One has been practising wearing his robes for his role as a jeering bystander in the Passion play at school and Junior Grendel Number Two , while welcoming the coming of the great bunny, is also facing the fact that the bunny is not only coming to deliver chocolate eggs, but also to take away dummies.
Our boys love their chocolate eggs, and we ration their take over a period of some months. I too love chocolate, I love that warm silky sweetness as it melts down your throat and the endorphin rush that hits soon after.
I'm sorry for what follows in this post - we should all be sorry for what follows in this post.
Tim Costello of World Vision has been off in Africa checking out the cocoa farming regions, and the news was not good.
Apparently human trafficking and slavery are alive and well and living in the cocoa plantations. The Rev. Costello visited Ghana and the Ivory Coast and estimate that over half a million children now work in the cocoa fields in conditions that at their best are exploitative and at their worst are outright slavery. 50% don't get formal education and most are involved in hazardous work - it is these children that are providing the majority of the cocoa we will consume this Easter.
70% 0f the world's cocoa comes from West Africa so their is an excellent chance that the egg you bite into on Easter morning will originate from cocoa harvested by a child slave. In the worst cases this child will have been forced to work 80-100 hours a week.
I'm sorry if that puts anyone off their elegant rabbit or giant egg, but the cheaper the chocolate for us to buy, the cheaper the price paid to the farmer and their labourers. International buying cartels force down the prices of cocoa and seek volume supplies. Sound familiar? Just like coffee - volume means poor quality. We need to be encouraging lower production of higher quality cocoa, and pay a fair price for it.
I know that World Vision are supporting the Fair Trade approach to cocoa, and in this case I think it is the best option. Unlike coffee, the production of chocolate is more specialised and the situation of the workers and the farmers even more dire than in the coffee world.
Interestingly World Vision are not calling for a boycott of the big chocolate companies - that would hurt the farmers further. However they are suggesting that when you can vote with your wallet and buy fair trade products when you can.
I'd encourage you to go and read further - this is an issue that won't go away and if you love chocolate then you owe it to yourself to at least KNOW the facts. More than this you owe it to those who labour to bring this treat to you, yet never get to try it themselves.
If you want to buy fair trade chocolate and Easter eggs then look for Scarborough Fair Fairtrade certified Easter Eggs which are available in some Coles and Target stores.
Check out the World Vision site for more information: What is the real cost of chocolate?
And here is a list of ethical chocolate available in Australia - hopefully it is good quality chocolate as well:
Alter Eco – Fairtrade
Dark Velvet (Organic)
Dark Velvet with Peppermint
Cacao Power – Organic and *Fairtrade (*certification imminent)
Crushed pure chocolate
Chocolatier Australia – Fairtrade
Chocolate Thins – Dark and Milk
Cocolo - Fairtrade
Cocoa Farm Chocolate (Australian Grown Cocoa)
Mango, Lime and Chilli
Coffee and Hazelnut
Endangered Species - Fairtrade
Green & Black’s – Fairtrade
Maya Gold Organic Dark Chocolate Bar
Organic Hot Chocolate
Oxfam - Fairtrade
Milk with nuts
Scarborough Fair - Fairtrade
Oh, and this is the ONLY time you'll ever hear me advising you to go to Starbucks!
Starbucks - Fairtrade Chocolate