Friday, October 30, 2009

Reverse Trick-or-Treating: Be smart about your sweets

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Imagine giving a handful of little chocolates to trick-or-treaters . They thank you.  Then they give you a treat, too! Your treat: a flyer stating that the chocolate you gave them may have been produced by child slaves.  The flyer probably won’t put a smile on your face.  But it might, just might, have you think about how your chocolates were produced.

The flyer is part of a program titled Reverse Trick-or-Treating aimed to build awareness of child labor abuse and move people to think about the source of their cocoa products. Global Exchange, a global human rights protection agency based out of San Francisco created this program. The organization has been around for over 20 years. 2009 marks the 3rd year of the Reverse Trick-or-Treating program.  In addition to passing out the awareness flyers, kids are asked to give adults chocolates that are certified fair trade.

The fair trade certification come from The Fair Trade Federation, an international monitoring and certification system that guarantees a minimum price under direct contracts, prohibits abusive child labor, and promoted environmental sustainability. Farmers receive a minimum or floor price of at least $.80 per pound for non-organic cocoa and $0.89 per pound for organic cocoa.

The U.S. Department of Labor includes cocoa as one of the most common of the goods on its  “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor” yet Americans spend over $13 million a year on chocolate.

I’m not saying to boycott chocolate.  Just be concerned about how it was produced, under what conditions and by whom.   Ask your coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores to carry cocoa goods that are certified fair trade.  We, as consumers, can drive the growth of a product through our voice and our wallet. Demand creates supply.

To participate in the Reverse Trick-or-Treating program, print a card or flyer from http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/cocoa/reversetrickortreating/reversetrickortreating.html.

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