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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trick or treat and watch your ethics

It's only a few days until trick-or-treaters will be storming our doors. Even such a seemingly benign ritual has become a subject of increasing controversy. There's the childhood obesity thing, of course. But there's also the problem of buying chocolate candy from companies, like Hershey's, that get their cacao beans from plantations that literally utilize enslaved children.

Kristen Howard of the Good Food blog recently posted an opinion piece about the subject. A sample:

Every October, American kids like mine are treated to a wide array of chocolates—Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers—because hundreds of thousands of children in West Africa are enslaved harvesting cocoa beans. These children are performing this work for the benefit of most of the mainstream chocolate providers in the United States. A report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other African countries estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions.

The blog Bittersweet Notes also has a rant on the subject and a lengthy list of free-trade alternatives to specific candies manufactured by Hershey's, which sells more than 40 percent of the chocolate Americans eat.

Taria Camerino, owner of Sugar Coated Radical, is particularly adamant that the chocolate she uses is from fair-trade, sustainable sources. In fact, that's what the "radical" in her business names refers to.

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