By Julie Bandy, youth advocate
I absolutely love
chocolate, but I have decided to make a choice to start eating only ethically sourced chocolate. Why, you may ask? Because I know that there is chocolate grown by child labourers, many of whom are working in dangerous, dirty, and degrading conditions. Working in these unfit conditions mean the chocolate they produce is unethical.
It's my first major holiday without chocolate, and I am reminded that there are so many chocolate-centered holidays: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving are all holidays in which chocolate is very prevalent. I am looking forward to the conversations I will be able to start with my friends and even family about what I am doing.
Although eating only fair trade chocolate is more difficult at times, I cannot live my life by the saying, “ignorance is bliss” when I am
aware of this injustice. So instead of indulging in the chocolatey bliss
, I will try to raise awareness as I continue in this journey.
It’s been an interesting journey so far, and I’ve already learned five things since making this decision.
- The greatest difficulty in making this choice is honestly forgetting that I made it! There have been times when, after having a chocolate dessert, I realized that it was most likely unethically sourced. As I continue in my journey, however, I have been able to catch myself before taking something or eating it.
- Ethically sourced chocolate is not hard to find! So many companies are proud to say their products are fair trade, and if you look for those symbols indicating the product is fair trade, one would be surprised at how easy it is to find. World Vision even has a Good Chocolate Guide that has helped me a lot.
- Ethically sourced chocolate tastes the same as any other chocolate! Surprisingly, people wonder about this, and I am happy to say that I enjoy eating fair trade chocolate more than unethically sourced chocolate!
- Eating ethically sourced chocolate is a great conversation starter. People ask why I am not eating certain desserts or why I won’t eat some chocolate when offered. This provides me with a way to start a conversation about my decision, and raise awareness of the issue.
- Finally, eating only ethical chocolate makes me feel like I am making a difference. I may not be able to go to chocolate-producing countries and directly help, but in making this change in my life, I have a way to show my support and try to make an impact.
My goal in eating fair trade chocolate is not to make others feel guilty about the chocolate they eat, or to encourage everyone to boycott unethical chocolate. Instead, I want to inspire people to take some kind of action, and to provide a voice for the people who cannot speak for themselves.
This makes me ask how our society and the people we go through life with each day can help and take a stand against this injustice. Is it really worth supporting this trade by continuing to purchase unethically sourced chocolate, or can we make a simple shift in our lives to stand up for these individuals? Maybe I can be one more voice to speak for them, and maybe you can too.
A problem cannot be solved if no one knows about it, so let’s make it known. Let’s be a voice.