This Halloween you may be giving away a lot of chocolate to boys and girls dressed up as princesses, vampires, monsters, fairies, and superheroes. It is one of the most fun nights of the year for kids, and this year it falls on a Sunday. In my town, there is a big bonfire in the city park where the VFW has a hot dog roast and a costume contest. It is one of those classic nights that makes living in a small town so much fun. There will be 70-100 kids and their parents. I’m pretty sure that not one of them will have spent the day working in hot tropical fields, wielding machetes and being exposed to harmful pesticides. I think it’s a safe bet that none of the children getting their chocolate treats were sold into work camps by their parents, desperate to provide for siblings that are starving.
Unfortunately, such an existance is common place in West Africa, where the majority of the world’s exported cocoa beans are grown. Equal Exchange is one group that is making a difference in the world by fighting poverty at its root. By bringing the products of small farms to consumers in the United States, Equal Exchange has been able to empower people to maintain economic stability. Their Interfaith Store is a way for churches and individuals to buy products that they can trust – and feel good about.
While big corporations like Hershery continue to “lag behind their competitors” in making improvements in the labor practices of cocoa farms, Equal Exchange provides an alternative for those that want to make sure that the chocolate they give to smiling faces on Halloween was not made by children across the ocean.