How much do you love chocolate? (a #1000Speak post)

Chocolate is delicious, right? How much do you love it?

I spent a long time not very keen on it, but it wasn’t until I succumbed to a dairy allergy (and subsequently turned vegan) that I realised I really rather like the indulgence of dark chocolate. One square, nibbled, so that the rich cocoa flavour smooths itself across my tongue, is absolute LUXURY. Homemade vegan brownies with dairy-free coconut ice-cream are a treat I had never before imagined being even CLOSE to as good as it really is. I also love Oreos, but I’m not sure they really count!

Weird thing was, it wasn’t until I couldn’t have chocolate (for risk of a rash) that I really began to miss it. Now, with further information backing up why I’ve chosen to forgo dairy on all fronts (really, DON’T research if you want to keep drinking milk without thinking about the impact of obtaining it) I kind of mourn the loss of chocolate, even while I keep reiterating my reasons in my mind.

I always *tried* to buy fair trade chocolate though.

How much do you love chocolate - summat2thinkon.wordpress.com

I remember long, long ago, reading an article where a child described the beatings he received at the hands of the cocoa farmer he worked for, and was quoted as saying something along the lines of ‘whenever you buy chocolate from here, you are buying the blood from my back’. Absolutely grisly and it was certainly enough to make me want to be a conscientious consumer, for as long as I remembered those awful words.

Time goes by though, and I think it’s true to say the old adage “out of sight; out of mind’ holds truer for most of us, than we’d really care to admit. My chocolate-purchasing has probably been pretty lax, and there have been times when I haven’t wanted to pay the extra for that little fair trade label, or haven’t seen one available, or just plain old have wanted something else.

I forgot that little boy’s words. I began to think they were probably a little bit amped up for the sake of sensationalism. I didn’t think about his blood, or the beatings. I didn’t extrapolate to consider the other children who might be in similar situations. I didn’t think about their vulnerability or the fact my consumer attitude was having a direct impact on their wellbeing. I forgot that the damn Village isn’t just here, where I am, but that it consists of every individual across the globe. Kind of, but importantly, because even if I never have contact with a child slave in Africa, my behaviour here is role-modelling to others who ARE in my ‘Village’, and that also makes a difference. I forgot that we all need to matter.

I embraced ignorance for the sake of convenience.

I perpetuated enslavement for the sake of confectionery.

I did it.

Because here’s the thing. Whether we like it or not, our consumer lives are enmeshed with the exploitation of some of the worlds most vulnerable adults and children. The vast systems for profiteering quite literally enslave people, keeping them trapped within their mechanisms, with very little hope of a suitable way out or the achievement of a better life. This is particularly prevalent in the cocoa industry, with the worst afflicted area being the West Coast of Africa, where conditions can be absolutely appalling, and children as young as 5 are working outrageously long hours to provide the West with the sweet taste of chocolate.

An article published by Anonymous – ‘7 Famous Brands That Use Child Slaves To Make Your Chocolate‘ – quotes that Mars said in 2009 they are committed to being child slave FREE by 2020. That’s a long, LONG way away…but at least they have a plan. Other brands, such as Nestle and Hersheys, gave scant defenses for their purchases of Ivory Coast cocoa. There have been lawsuits against ADM, Cargill and Nestle, put forward by people who consider their wellbeing was adversely impacted by the methods used to harvest the cocoa. Even Cadbury admits they don’t know really how to undo what’s been done, in terms of stopping the bad practices and forging a steady supply chain NOT based on slave labour.

It’s a mess. A stinking, fetid mess, and somewhere in there, those vulnerable lives have been weighed and measured as less valuable than the profit attached to the cocoa they generate. And I have taken part in keeping the system going, through negligence, through weakness, through my own deliberate fault, and although I don’t think I can shoulder the burden of knowing how much negative impact I’ve had…it is my responsibility to make better decisions from here onwards.

It’s always easier to turn a blind eye, but the sweet, sweet taste of chocolate has been ruined for me (again), and I hope that I will continue to keep my eyes open, and my tongue tuned to products which don’t contribute to oppression and injustice. Chocolate is delicious, and yes, SO many people love it…but is it worth the pain and oppression, when we know we aren’t making the most responsible buying choices?

How much do you love chocolate? More than life itself?

Whose life?

Fair Trade

Fortunately when it comes to making GOOD choices about what we buy there are places which have done a lot of the grunt-work already, like this list of Ethical Chocolate Companies, or Ethical Consumer – brilliant, because they mean we don’t need to make too much effort to change our ways, and make our purchasing line up with our principles.

BUT on the bright side…how wonderful that we get to do our grocery shopping in a compassionate way!

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This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a focus on Compassion and Vulnerability.

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29 thoughts on “How much do you love chocolate? (a #1000Speak post)

  1. Pingback: The Village needs to SPEAK UP! | Considerings

  2. Pingback: How much do you love chocolate? (a #1000Speak p...

  3. I hate chocolate.
    I seriously do.
    Now I have more reasons to.
    If you tell me there’s some underground gummy bear shizz going on…I’ll jump off of my couch and kick this slipper.
    But really though. I had no idea that this sort of thing went on. It’s disgusting. Thank you for bringing it up because we often just go to the grocer and shell out money, rip open a package, and down the gullet it goes without thinking twice where it comes from. We take so many things for granted. So many things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gummy bears? There’s probably issues with the sugar, because I know you can buy a fair trade version of that, which implies that there’s an UNfair trade version, probably used in commercially available ‘made’ products. But research whichever company you buy your gummy bears from 🙂

      We do take SO much for granted, and I think to be honest, we’re conditioned NOT to ask, NOT to think critically about our purchasing, and NOT to wonder about the impact of how we shop. Which sucks.

      Like

  4. Is that seductive chocolaty photo of you? If so, I love it – you sexy cat you! You make excellent points (as you often do) and what I particularly appreciate is that you not only inform your readers of important issues, but you also provide ideas and information about ways to right the wrong. Thanks, Honeybee for being you. 🙂 AND: CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heheh yeah it’s me but from over a year ago! I’m glad you appreciate the ideas about how to right the wrong – that’s so important to me, and I hope I never come across as judgy or preachy (I probably do, but…when people’s lives and wellbeing are at stake, maybe it’s okay to take a harder line). I hope I never start pronouncing on things, or suggesting I’m innocent of contributing to the badness.

      And YAY for chocolate 🙂

      Like

  5. I need to be more aware of these things. I vaguely knew of the issues around chocolate, but this helps put it in perspective.

    There’s so much to think about with everyday chores, isn’t there? It’s so easy to live life unconsciously. I’d rather make the extra effort, when I can. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Since I saw the movie “Blood Diamond,” I would never think about buying a diamond that wasn’t certified as conflict free. Of course, I don’t have the money to go around buying diamonds anyway, so… However, I never thought about other things that we consume so often, like chocolate. You’ve really given me some food for thought 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad, because the big things are easy to avoid, aren’t they. Well. Give or take. But the small things, like chocolate…who would even think of it? I know I wouldn’t normally, apart from the fair trade labels I *try* to stick with…

      (I wish we both had the money to go around buying diamonds though)

      Like

  7. So very well said, darling. I feel ignorant and disgusted with myself as I truly had no idea. Just as you said, out of sight out of mind. I’ve never been exposed to this information. But, in this information age, there is nobody to blame other than me. I fear that I consume far too many things that come from places that would horrify me if I were more aware. You are an inspiration to me in so many ways, this article is yet another reason why. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what I fear, too – you start lifting the lid on things and kicking over rocks, and before you know it, there are shadows everywhere, which you’ve been blindly helping to make darker and more awful…it’s just dreadful that these systems exist, and worse that we’re SO kept (yes even in this age of information) from making responsible choices and NOT just pouring money into the pockets of the big corporations driving it all.

      Don’t feel bad for what you didn’t know – we can only know what we know. But ONCE we know it…then the choices begin, and that can be its own tricky kettle of fish.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The goal of those who would exploit both producer and consumer is to be able to say, “Take it or leave it. Eat it or starve. etc.” I have heard that major places where Cocoa is grown are threatened by climate change and we run out of it, and that the same is true for some places producing coffee and wine (Oh, the horror). It is hard, even is places well supplied with sources of ethical and sustainable alternatives to consume well, but worth doing what we can. reblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s such an enormous and very complex system, with so much interdependence built into it, there seems to be no way to untangle it without the whole thing crashing down, which is just awful. That we’re all embroiled in consumer-driven (well, it’s not, is it, it’s the profiteers behind the sales pitches who drive it) lifestyle which is so damaging in so many ways, yet…in our way we’re almost as stuck, because sources of responsibly obtained food are so scant *sigh*

      I think we just need to do what we can, when we can, from where we are.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oy, 😦 . A well worth topic writing about. In all honesty I’ve never seen anything like “fair trade ” chocolate in these parts. We just don’t have that kind of consumerism here.

    We are still struggling to support our local suppliers, never mind anything like this. Things as is are just too expensive. Chocolate is a luxury for many. Mind you when I think about the poverty the people here live in…. it’s too much. All of it too much for a compassionate heart to comprehend. This world is a cruel dark place and when it’s so stuck in your nose everyday, like it is here we pay no mind to conscious consumerism. We concentrate on survival and not ending up like the masses. It’s a keep your head down and heart closed reality. Cause none of us can change the world on our own.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, I don’t think anyone could change the world by themselves – the enormity of human need and the vast imbalance between people is just too great. We just all need to do what we can, from where we are NOW. I should think in your case, supporting local businesses is a good start.

      Liked by 1 person

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