Archive for the ‘chocolate’ Tag

This Is The Year Fair Trade Halloween Chocolates Make a Break   2 comments

For the last several years, around this time, I have had the frustrating experience of searching for fair trade mini-chocolates to give to trick-or-treaters. But no more. I followed a link GreenAmerica sent in one of their emails, and found that they had updated their chocolate scorecard to include whether a company has bite-sized candies. There are now several companies selling mini-bars or bite-sized foil wrapped chocolates, and some other more expensive halloween-themed chocolate candies. Plus, in acknowledgement of the large percentage of people who dislike dark chocolates, there are now fair trade mini milk chocolate candies. There are also of course several places from which to buy reverse trick-or-treat kits. So for the first time I think I can encourage people to consider buying fair trade for some of their halloween candy and/or reverse trick-or-treat. (Reverse trick-or-treat is where the kids give a piece of chocolate glued to a postcard about fair trade back to the people giving them candy.)

Check out the chocolate scorecard and GreenAmerica’s website for more info on fair trade. I tend to have a big issue with advertising or product plugging, but fair trade is important enough that I’ll encourage you to check out websites for Divine Chocolates, Equal Exchange, Coco-Zen, Sjaak’s, and Sweet Earth Chocolates. They are still a bit more expensive than what you get at the grocery store, but that’s for better candy, a better economy, and a better world.

Posted October 11, 2011 by mayakey in advocacy, fair trade, shopping

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Tenth Anniversary of the Harkin-Engel “Cocoa” Protocol   Leave a comment

September 19th marks the tenth anniversary of the Harkin-Engel Protocol aka the Cocoa Protocol, which is an international agreement signed by major chocolate companies to end forced child labor on cocoa plantations in West Africa. To make the story short, that hasn’t happened. The protocol contained specific objectives with deadlines, but deadlines have slipped by several years, and little progress has been made. I’m not going to get into much background here since I’m not an expert on that side of the issue. As usual, Wikipedia has some info, and GreenAmerica has info and campaigns including a letter-writing campaign to Hershey (one of the worst laggards) and a film investigating the current status of forced child labor.

I’m not very consistent at advocacy, but do much better at action. In this case the major action is to buy fair trade chocolate, since the certification for child labor-free chocolate has not yet been developed. There’s plenty of fair trade chocolate available, although since I don’t shop at a mainstream grocery store I don’t know how accessible it is there. There are several companies and organizations that sell many varieties of fair trade including Dagoba, Green & Black (Maya Gold only), Divine, Theo, Sjaaks, Equal Exchange, SERRV International, Alter Eco, Global Exchange, and Grounds for Change. In our house we use only fair trade cocoa products. Even at work and movies I rarely consume “conventional” chocolate (although I must confess that’s also because I dislike milk chocolate and find most candy bars way too sweet and decidedly not satisfying). I’m not under the delusion that I could convince anyone else to avoid candy bars, but the way I see it any increase in market share for fair trade chocolate manufacturers and corresponding decrease in market share for “conventional” chocolate manufacturers is a good movement that will continue to build momentum.

With Halloween coming out I wish I could say: buy fair trade chocolate to give out to trick-or-treaters. But I won’t. We buy a container of mini-bars of fair trade chocolates because even though the kids who consume them will never even notice or care about the label (or as my husband points out, might actually throw it away since I can only get dark chocolate minis), I just cannot give my money to Hershey or any other objectionable chocolate manufacturer. But it is expensive! And frustratingly difficult to find. For the life of me I cannot figure out why there isn’t more marketing of mini-chocolates around Halloween. Instead there is marketing of “reverse trick-or-treating” in which you get a kit with fair trade mini-chocolates stuck onto postcards, and then as your kids go trick-or-treating they hand these chocolates and postcards to the people handing out candy. When I have a kid who goes trick-or-treating, I’ll probably do this, but for now all I can do is put my money where my mouth is for the candy I give out. I very much encourage anyone who does have a trick-or-treater at home to consider reverse trick-or-treating. You can search for it online to find kits (Equal Exchange and Global Exchange do it, and there may be others).

Posted September 19, 2011 by mayakey in advocacy, fair trade, food

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Not Using What’s Provided, Part 2   Leave a comment

A few months ago I wrote a post about reducing waste by not mindlessly using all the “free” “convenience” products that we are often surrounded with. Recent occurances at work have made me aware of a related topic: providing your own stuff instead of using the “free” stuff that is provided.

The first example is tissue products. My office keeps a cabinet stocked with boxes of tissues for employees to take as needed for their individual offices. I buy my own tissues instead. Why spend my own money when my company is already providing the same thing? Because it is really important to me to use paper products that are not chlorine bleached. (I don’t care as much about whether they’re made of recycled content, but I’ve yet to find tissue products that aren’t labeled as both or neither). It is worthwhile to me to buy my own tissues and reduce by even a tiny fraction the pollution caused by chorine bleaching. Taking it a step further, I have a small terry cloth hand towel that I hang near the entrance to my cubicle so that it is convenient to take with me into the restroom to use to dry my hands instead of using the paper towels.

The second example is tea and hot chocolate. Like many offices, there’s always a pot or two of coffee brewing in the break room at my office and a tray of sugar, creamer, teabags, and hot chocolate mix packets. While I drink hot tea throughout the day, and occasionally enjoy a hot cocoa pick-me-up, until recently I almost never partook of those offerings. Instead I keep quite the selection of teas at my desk (peak was 19 different kinds, including medicinal), and a tin of cocoa mix. It is very important to me that tea and chocolate be fair trade certified, or fairly traded for herbs when there’s no certification available. Currently, I’m out of tea as I switch from tea bags to loose teas and in the intervening time since I’m out of tea I’m taking the lazy(?) way out and instead of doing without I’m using the macha tea provided in the break room. I hope that since it is a Japanese tea, it might be actually grown in Japan where fair trade certification does not apply.

My third example is junk food snacks. One of my strategies for reducing junk food consumption and trash is to bring my own snacks to the office. A square of high quality fair-trade dark chocolate and/or a piece of fresh fruit at my desk helps me ward off the siren call of a Reese’s cup or cookie left over from someone’s meeting. The sugary snacks in the break room usually offer me zero satisfaction, contribute to long term increased sugar cravings, and create relatively high volume of waste. My sweet snacks provide me with as much satisfaction as I want, and create little to no non-biodegradable waste. A container of carrots, tomatoes, or other vegetables helps me keep away from the bags of chips in the break room, and was instrumental in overcoming my cracker addiction.

Ready for Trick-or-Treaters, Maybe   Leave a comment

We’ve got our mini-chocolate bars, we’ve got a tub of pretzel bags. We might just be ready for Halloween (well the trick-or-treating part anyway).

For the last several years I have been buying fair trade mini-chocolate bars to give out for Halloween. Since we have to order them online it means that we can’t be last minute on our Halloween candy. The fair trade thing is really important to me as a part of my “conscience living”. Buying fair trade is all about economic empowerment. It ensures that the people who produced the product received sustainable living wages, and usually other social benefits. Fair trade products are also often organic, to protect the workers. The list of products that may be certified fair trade is constantly growing: chocolate, tea, coffee, sugar, bananas, sports balls, vanilla, rice, flower, and crafts. I insist on fair trade tea, chocolate, and sugar for myself; and it just seems wrong to me to be cheap with non-fair trade stuff for other people. So I pay a little (ok, a lot) more to special order mini-chocolates made from fairly traded chocolate and sugar. This year we bought from Equal Exchange, and I’ve bought from Divine Chocolate in the past. What I really need to start doing is putting a suggestion in the box at Whole Foods to sell the fair trade mini-bars in their stores for Halloween, because ordinary people won’t jump on the bandwagon until the candy is easily available in stores.

While I have insisted for the last few years on Halloween chocolates made from fair trade chocolate and sugar, I’ve been stymied when it comes to non-chocolate Halloween goodies. I have not been able to find candy made from fair trade sugar that I can hand out to trick-or-treaters. So we get the typical bag of “conventional” non-chocolate candy to supplement the fair trade chocolate. It really bugs me. But this year we’re trying something different. On a recent trip to Costco we discovered that they have tubs of Halloween pretzel bags. Perfect! An end-run around the fair trade sugar problem! So we’ll be handing out bags of pretzels and mini-chocolate bars. …And probably some non-fair trade sugar candy as well, since I think we should have bought two tubs of pretzels in order to have enough stuff… Oh, well.

Posted October 7, 2010 by mayakey in conscious living, fair trade

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