I have pretty a serious chocolate habit. I need a fix everyday. And its a pretty simple equation for me to get my hit - go and buy some, consume it, happy belly! Right? Well, lately its not so simple for me. Even less so since I just did a bit of research about the implications of non-fairtrade chocolate. I already had an idea that, as The European Fair Trade Association has reported, the average cocoa producer in a developing country receives only 5 cents out of every dollar spent on chocolate. This might leave them with barely enough money to feed their kids or to buy their family medicine if someone gets sick. What I wasn't so aware of is that apparently the West African cocoa industry is guilty of widespread use of child workers who may be victims of child trafficking and slavery and working in unsafe conditions. Suddenly that chocolate doesn't taste so good, huh?
Something I've been thinking about lately is that in this strange capitalist world we live in the most powerful political statement we can make is what we do or don't spend our money on. We vote with our wallet. So is it a bit over the top to make such a song and dance about what chocolate or coffee or tea I consume (the latter two industries having equally dubious track records)? I think not. Whether I choose the fairtrade chocolate which guarantees fair labour conditions and a fair price paid to producers or the chocolate made by the unscrupulous multinational corporation ....well, that choice does actually affect other people's lives somewhere down the line, whether its convenient for me to think about it or not.
See links below more more info on fairtrade and the cocoa industry.