Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love the costumes, spooky decorations, and a reason to re-watch Hocus Pocus. However, there’s one part of the holiday I wish I could change—Halloween candy, particularly chocolate.
Child labor and forced labor are prevalent in the cocoa industry in West Africa, meaning there’s a good chance that those fun size Hershey bars and other conventional treats were made in part by workers who were enslaved, abused, or unfairly compensated. It especially disturbs me around Halloween when so many kids in the United States are happily eating buckets full of chocolate candy. I can’t help thinking about how children the same age in Africa are mistreated and denied an education to ensure the harvest of that very cocoa.
While most mainstream candy companies make no guarantees about their cocoa coming from ethical sources, there is good news! Fair trade chocolate manufacturers have stepped up to provide ethical options for your Halloween party or trick-or-treat bowl.
This year I ordered a Fair Trade Your Halloween kit from Equal Exchange. For only $24, I’ll get 150 bite-sized pieces of tasty fair trade chocolate (I chose milk, but dark is available), plus 150 illustrated informational cards. Cocoa in Equal Exchange chocolate is produced in accordance with International Labor Organization standards on child labor and is sourced from cooperatives of small farmers. Order by Oct. 15 to receive your kit in time for Halloween. (Read more about Equal Exchange’s cocoa practices.)
If you want to share more fair trade information with your friends and family, you can order a Halloween Action Kit from Global Exchange. This kit includes postcards, a sticker, a poster, a DVD copy of the documentary film The Dark Side of Chocolate and more.
Fair trade chocolate is a very important issue to me personally. If you haven’t read much about child labor in the cocoa industry, I encourage you to look into it this year. It’s the kind of knowledge that can turn your view of the world upside-down, but in an ultimately good way, because it enables you to start being part of the solution.
Resources to learn more: