Did you know that most commercial chocolate companies are relying on child labor to source their cocoa? The low-down is here . . . but in a nutshell a BBC documentary revealed that child labor and even child trafficking is rampant in chocolate production, and that chocolate from most mainstream candy companies can be traced back to farms employing (and even buying) children to work in dangerous conditions.
For our family, the response to learning this has been to limit our chocolate purchases to fair-trade chocolate. Buying fair-trade is the best way to ensure that chocolate has been ethically sourced, and it also sends a message to mainstream chocolate companies that there is consumer demand for Fair Trade Certified chocolate (which is ultimately what will lead to change). Buying organic is reportedly another way to ensure that your chocolate wasn’t produced by exploited children due to the checks on labor practices organic certification requires. Additionally, organic producers often receive higher payment for their goods than those who don’t use organic methods.
The best sources I’ve seen for a variety of socially conscious Halloween shoppers are the Global Exchange Fair Trade Store and the Natural Candy Shop. But since Halloween is just around the corner, here are some ideas for things you might be able to find at local stores, or that you could purchase from Amazon with 2-day shipping. Also, if you are lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, they have a great selection of organic and fair-trade chocolate.
Yummy Earth makes lollipops and other candies that are gluten-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, and contain no type of corn syrup. A huge 5-pound bag of lollipops is under $30 and available for 2-day shipping on Amazon.
These minty chocolate squares are what we’re handing out this year (that is, if I can stop eating them first.) Made of fair-trade chocolate, a large box is available on Amazon with 2-day Prime shipping.
Yummy Earth makes great organic candies including Sour Beans, Fruit Snacks, and Gummy Worms. (We are passing out the sour beans this year and they are SO good.) They are all natural; gluten-free; egg-free; soy-free; nut-free; peanut-free; casein-free, with no artificial dyes. A large bag of mini treats is only $16.99 on Amazon, available with 2-day shipping.
Endangered Species Organic Dark Chocolate Bug Bites come in a 64-count box perfect for Halloween treats. These .35oz. pieces are made with organic-certified, shade-grown, ethically traded dark chocolate with 70% cocoa content. They can be ordered from Amazon using Prime 2-day shipping, or purchased at most local health food stores.
Clif’s organic Z-Bars for kids are a great healthier alternative to candy bars. They are available in most grocery stores, or on Amazon with 2-day Prime shipping.
Fruitabu has one serving of all-natural fruit per roll, made exclusively with real fruit puree and no added sugar, artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. They can be purchased at most grocery stores or fromAmazon with 2-day Prime shipping.
Funky Monkey is made of freeze-fried fruit and is available at most local health food stores. They can also be ordered with 2-day Prime shipping from Amazon.com.
Justin’s peanut butter cups taste like the mainstream ones you know and love, but are made with ethical chocolate and available at most local health food stores or from Amazon.com.
If you aren’t ready to take the plunge with fair-trade or organic chocolate, you can always stick with mainstream candy without chocolate, like Mike and Ike’s or Hot Tamales. These are available at most grocery stores or on Amazon with 2-day Prime shipping.
These balls of fair trade chocolate are wrapped in foil depicting the earth. A 1lb. bag of Earth Balls can beordered from Amazon with 2-day shipping.
Sjaak’s Halloween orange bites have dark chocolate around a delicious orange interior. These cute little bites come individually wrapped and in a tub with about 93 pieces perfect for Trick or Treaters. They can be purchased for $33 from the Sjaak’s website.
Stretch Island Fruit Leather is made of real, organic fruit. A variety pack is only $18 for a 48-pack on Amazon.com (with 2-day Prime shipping.)
I do realize that fair-trade candy is quite a bit more expensive than the mainstream alternative. But again, I think we have to keep in mind — would we pay less for a product if a child was being abused to make it right in front of us? We’ve got to hold to the same standards for the treatment of children, no matter where they live.