Christmas Unwrapped: Cruel Candy

Part 3 of our Christmas Unwrapped Feminist blog series is finally here! I know…you were probably on the edge of your seat after reading about Concerning Claymation and Creepy Carols. Wait no longer, for it’s time to talk about Cruel Candy! This is usually a topic that comes up around Halloween, but I figured that a holiday wrought with chocolaty cookies, candies, and treats freely exchanged was as good a time as any to discuss this issue.

The bitter truth is that much of the world’s chocolate is produced through exploitation, slavery, and child labor. So before you bite into that chocolate covered Christmas tree, consider the source! Cruelty in common products is quite commonplace. Many items, including coffee, sugar, seafood, rubber, and spices come to us through labor abuse.

One solution that’s surfaced in response to labor abuse and resource exploitation is fair trade products. Fair trade goods are supposed to come to us through sustainable harvesting practices and workers who receive fair wages for their labor. According to Fair Trade USA, “… the rise of the Conscious Consumer will cause a fundamental shift in the way companies do business and create a historic opportunity to reward companies that embrace sustainability.” You can be one of those conscious consumers! You can also spread the word about this issue. One approach is to host a movie screening for The Dark Side of Chocolate. It even comes with a chocolate laden hosting kit. Yum!

Now, be wary noble Christmas chocolatiers. There are many who critique the idea of fair trade. Some say that the idea of fair trade messes with supply/demand systems. Others say that the certification process, which emphasizes co-ops, might alienate some smaller but sustainable farmers. These are some hard questions to take into consideration, but I still think that considering all sides is important.

Human trafficking, which does happen in the cocoa industry, is a global crisis. Human beings are trafficked, exploited and enslaved every day for labor and commercial sex. Whether or not you’re into fair trade, I hope that we can at least agree that in 2013, this garbage should end already. Consider making a New Year’s resolution to do something that gets us there.

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