The Taste of Chocolate Just Isn’t So Sweet Now

Later this week we’ll ooh and aah over cute children in costume ringing our doorbells to trick or treat or marvel at the creativity of our friends and family on Facebook with clever costume ideas. I don’t know where you stand about participating in Halloween and that’s not what I’m here to write about today.  There are plenty of other blogs with excellent posts addressing this.  However the upcoming festivities do have me thinking about some big issues.

Let me start with a few stats about the October 31 holiday.

Did you know …

  • Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy a year for Halloween. That’s 16 billion fun sized Snickers bars or 158 trillion individual candy corns. (Huffington Post)
  • Almost 1.9 billion is spent purchasing candy for Halloween. (2007 U.S. Census Report)
  • Chocolate makes up about three-quarters of a trick-or-treater’s loot, according to the National Confectioners Association. (Real Simple)
  • A quick Google search shows me that kids consume on average 3,500-4,800 calories on Halloween. Whoa!

But let’s switch gears a bit. While many kids in the US are dressed in adorable costumes going from door to door collecting sweets, thousands of kids of a similar age in other countries are being forced to labor on cocoa farms providing the major US chocolate companies with their chocolate. That chocolate doesn’t taste so sweet now, does it?

If you aren’t familiar with the many ethical issues around child labor and the cocoa industry, please check out this post for more information. There’s also some helpful information on Wikipedia.

And now for what’s REALLY on my mind… In the last 10 years or so the word “intentional” has been a bit of a buzz word in Christians culture. As Christians we are really good about talking about being intentional with each other. Intentional community. Intentional in our small groups. Intentional in our workplaces. And so forth. But how are we doing at being intentional as consumers?

I don’t know about you, but my habits as a consumer are probably not much different than any other person. Do we know where the products we buy are coming from? If the people the major companies are buying from are justly paid for their resources? Do we care? Are we willing to pay more for fair trade? These things matter.

In order to be a good steward of what God has given me I can’t ignore this. I’m not willing to be part of the injustice for a cheap (but still quality – always quality!) cup of coffee or a snack sized Kit Kat to satisfy my love of chocolate.

I know I can’t do it all differently immediately. To expect that would be to set myself up for failure and then I might stop trying to do anything at all. But I can take small steps and prayerfully consider what my faith in Jesus Christ means for me as a consumer and I urge you to do the same.

More Information on Fair Trade Products:  http://www.fairtradeusa.org/

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