CHALLENGE: Chocolate, Guilt-free

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a personal challenge in pursuit of mindful and ethical consumerism.

Exhibit One: all the dubiously sourced chocolate currently in my possession.*

It’s a sizeable stash, yes (it builds up around this time, when the excess of Christmas candy meets the renewed dietary strictures of the New Year); but consider this: it’s the last chocolate of its kind that I’ll ever buy.

That’s my resolution, at least — at last. I’ve fancied myself chocolate-conscious for years, a proponent of the ethics of choosing fairtrade and a critic of the exploitation that chocolate production relies on. I’m aware of the human rights abuses in chocolate slave labor and the hidden costs of the treat — but look at the allowances I’ve made for myself. From Mozartkügeln to Skittles to Cliff bars, I still choose time and time again to support an industry I allegedly decry.

This is a challenge for greater personal integrity.

Exhibit 2: what ethically sourced chocolate I have in my pantry.

I include the second inventory as a reminder that this isn’t a challenge about complete deprivation. All of this lovely chocolate is both delicious and slavery-free.

There are differences. Fairly sourced chocolate tends to be chocolate in a less refined state. Baking cocoa, chocolate bars and drinking chocolates are easy enough to find. Sometimes, though, you just want a cheap candy bar — the kind where you get a chewy, melty mouthful of sweet, milky chocolate, stuffed with peanut butter or nougat or caramel. Or a chocolate coated biscuit to dunk in your tea.  Or Nutella.

But are any of these things worth exploiting children for?

Absolutely not. Here’s to curbing both the craving and the hypocrisy as I move on.

* Although they do not contain any cocoa, I have included sweets like SourPatch Kids and Skittles because they directly contribute to the wealth of incorporations (Cadbury Canada and Mars USA, respectively) which have done little to nothing to reform their abusive sourcing policies.

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