Sunday, November 04, 2007

Boycott of chocolate

I came across this interesting article today. The bitter life of chocolate slaves. In it, the spokesperson for the Confectionary Manufacturers' Association says that they can't guarantee their chocolate has not touched the hands of slaves. Granted, not an easy thing to do until you decide it's important, and even then, not necessarily transparent. What actually made me laugh - and despair - was his suggestion that "Boycotts will not help anybody. Hand-outs to people without change will achieve nothing." Excuse me? Of course Boycotts will help! How else can consumers make a real difference to large corporations except by voting with their dollar, or pound, or whatever currency?

You might be wondering why I appear to be suggesting we boycott chocolate. I'm not suggesting we stop eating all chocolate, just that we pay more attention to where our chocolate is coming from. Sadly, a Fair Trade seal neither 100% guarantees the farmer's are getting a fair price (corruption has been found within the channel of money passing to the farmers) and some chocolates have no Fair Trade sticker but are absolutely committed to the livelihood of the people who produce their cacao, otherwise they couldn't get the quality they need to make their fabulous chocolate. Amedei, Malagasy and El Rey are brands like this that come to mind.

I've been reading Ethics of Eating by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. The tag line is "What we eat and why it matters." It's actually all about industrialisation of farming and primarily the horrendousness that goes on behind closed doors to the animals, but it is certainly making me think a lot more about everything to do with what we eat. It's a great book if you want to know about why we should care, along as you can handle some gruesomeness.

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