I just wanted to get some Fair Trade chocolate to hand out for Halloween. I took my two young kids with me and we visited a few stores. We came up short. Way short. We found Fair Trade chocolate at an organic specialty store, but it is was in large bars for $4.50 each, nothing smaller. We found lots of small chocolate bars at the grocery store, but nothing fair trade.
Frustrated, I gave up on chocolate, and started looking for candy instead. Gummies, lollipops, licorice…
My 5 year-old son looked up at me and asked me why. “Why can’t we buy chocolate this year mama?”
I looked down at his innocent face. My heart broke. In the middle of the candy aisle in a busy grocery store on the day before Halloween, I bent down to my knees so I could look into his eyes.
Me: I am going to tell you something right now that you are probably too young to understand. Where we live in Canada, they don’t hurt little kids, but in other countries they make little kids work on cocoa farms, and some kids are taken from their mommies and daddies and don’t ever get to play with toys or go to school. It is not fair. It is not very nice. I do not want to buy chocolate from people who are not nice to little kids and hurt them.
My boy: But why don’t they go to school?
Me: Because bad people steal them and take them away from their mommies and daddies and make them work to make chocolate.
My boy: Why do those bad people do that?
Me: Because they are very poor and have no money so they make the kids work for free.
I was not sure if he understood. How could he? He was five years old. I don’t even understand it. We bought the sugar candy and started to head home.
My boy: So we can never buy chocolate again?
Me: We can buy chocolate if it is labeled fair trade. If it has the fair trade logo on it, that means that little children were not hurt to make the chocolate. So we will buy that instead.
He thought about it some more.
My boy: But what about the normal chocolate? What can we do about it Mommy? What can we do?
My heart broke again. Here is my little boy, so innocent, already thinking of solutions, and already thinking that there was something he could do to make a difference.
Me: Well we could write a letter to the grocery stores and tell them that we think they should sell chocolate that isn’t made by little kids.
My boy: Yes! Let’s do that.
Me: Let’s do it together. Maybe those people at the grocery store will listen to a letter written by a little kid, more than to one written by an adult. Maybe they will understand how important it is to stand up for little kids.
My boy: But I don’t know how to write.
Me: You say the words, and I will write them down.
So we did:
Dear Grocery Store,
I am age 5. I want you to stop getting the normal chocolate. Please get more Fair Trade chocolate. I don’t want you to use the normal chocolate because they use kids to make it in Africa. Some of these kids are stolen to pick the cocoa out of the cocoa trees to make chocolate. These kids are slaves.
Please, pretty please, stop getting normal chocolate.
Then we emailed it to these places:
- Overwaitea Food Group (Save-on Foods) – email@example.com
- Safeway – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sobeys – http://www.sobeys.com/en/About-us/Contact-Us.aspx
Since then we have gone to a convenience store and looked at chocolate bars together until we found one with the Fair Trade logo. He picked them up, one by one. “Mommy, no logo! This one doesn’t have a logo either! I can’t find any with a logo!” I am sure the lady at the counter thought we were nuts.
Finally he found one. It was a Cadbury, a Dairy Milk, the only Fair Trade option among dozens.
We bought it.
- Chocolate (oneearthtolive.wordpress.com)