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Fair Family Goes Trick-or-Treating

I love Halloween. I loved dressing up when I was younger, and now I love watching my daughter Kate dress up. I love going trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, and I love greeting superheroes and princesses at my front door.  I love seeing all the kids at my church in their costumes at our annual Fall Festival. And, I LOVE chocolate!

But there is something very unfair about Halloween – all this childhood fun comes at a terrible price, a price paid mainly by other children on the other side of the world. 

I’ll focus here on chocolate – my favorite treat and also one deeply entwined in injustice. The deadly side of the chocolate business is well-documented. In the book Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices, Julie Clawson writes: “Much of the chocolate we consume has its roots in child labor, often forced or slave labor.” That’s right – slave labor. There are more slaves in the world today than there were during the four hundred years of the colonial era African slave trade. The web site Global Exchange estimates that 284,000 children toil in abusive labor conditions in West Africa’s cocoa fields. Both the book and the web site have detailed and substantiated information, but for our purposes, suffice it to say that children suffer to bring us our treats.

So – how to make Halloween a little sweeter for everyone? Here are some simple ideas everyone can use:

  1. Give out Fair Trade chocolate to the trick-or-treaters at your door. My favorite this year is Sweet Earth Chocolates. When you get to the site, click on “seasonal” and check out all the great Halloween chocolate especially for trick-or-treaters and/or for your Halloween party.  With chocolate that is Fairly Traded: forced and abusive child labor are prohibited, farming families earn a price that is adequate to meet their basic human needs, and environmentally sustainable production methods are required
  2. If you’d like to go a little further, Global Exchange offers a Fair Trade Trick or Treat Kit that comes with Fair Trade chocolate to distribute as well as basic information on Fair Trade that you can distribute at your door.
  3. If you have a trick-or-treater in your house, try Reverse Trick-or-Treating. You give each house you visit a piece of Fair Trade chocolate as well as information on Fair Trade. It is fun to surprise people by giving them something while standing on their doorstep. 

For your regular chocolate use (for me this is a daily necessity), Fair Trade chocolate is easy to find – most all grocery stores carry at least some Fairly Traded chocolate or you can order from the Web sites listed above. With a little effort, you can find fairly traded versions of everything from chocolate chips to hot cocoa mix. By so doing, you add a little justice to every sweet treat.

Happy Halloween – may our families find ways to make it fairer for everyone. 


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