I need to admit here and now that my single biggest vice is chocolate. I LOVE it, and I love that I love it. And I know that it can be bad for the waistline, bad for the skin...blah blah blah....but I had never really thought of it as being bad for my karma. Let me explain...
I recently heard the tail end of a radio show that talked about general exploitation in the cocoa industry, and there was mention that the cheap brands of chocolate were the worst offenders. It was at that point I started only buying Green and Black's chocolate for my own scoffing (and a nice reason to justify the expense of a nicer chocolate than Cadburys), but I still bought Freddo Frogs for the kids as special treats, and didn't think much more of it.
Then yesterday I read a post from one of my favourite blogs - Great Stories. It is one of the few non-crafty blogs I love to read regularly. And the post has been playing on my mind. Over and over actually. It is both a review of the book Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of The World’s Most Seductive Sweet by Carol Off, a former war correspondent. It's also a discussion of the power of a story to change your habits – or at least your mindset – as a consumer. Well I think we could add to that the power of a blog to change habits and mindsets too, as you will see.
While reading Paula's post, I discovered that the exploitation I'd heard only briefly about on the radio actually involves child slavery and human trafficking....and the idea that my kids' chocolate covered grins can come at the expense of the lives of children across the world, makes me feel sick. I've spent the last two days trying to find out what I can do, and what I can actually eat without feeling nauseous from guilt. And the Dont Trade Lives website says that boycotting your favourite chocolate won't help either - it will just hurt poor farming families. So what to do???? It's been doing my head in. So anyway, I've decided this is what I can do:
1. I have signed the online petition which will send a message to the Australian chocolate industry that I want them to make a genuine attempt to tackle the root causes of child labour in cocoa production.
2. I will purchase organic and/or fair trade chocolate wherever possible, but will let my kids still have the occasional cheapo chocolate (ie. Freddo Frogs) and hope I am somehow walking that middle ground between not wholeheartedly supporting a disgusting industry, but not hurting innocent farmers either.
So Paula, when you read this, I guess I am answering your question of whether a story can change you habits as a consumer. Yes indeed - even a story about a story can do it. And this is where my habits change....thank-you. *pic above by Jeff Carlson