And it has nothing to do with my diet, actually (though I have dropped 10 lbs. thus far, in anticipation of my upcoming role in “The Music Man”).

I don’t have a taste for chocolate anymore, at least not that produced by the leading chocolate producers in this country, such as Nestle, M&M Mars, etc.  I don’t buy it because of the likelihood that some kid is working long hours as a slave to produce it.  Here’s another site that talks about the same problem.  See, I’m a follower of Jesus, and I began to think recently about the fact that that needs to influence the purchases I make.  I’m a little late to this type of party, I realize; I naturally tend to be a little skeptical about causes promoted by folks with different political agendas than myself–and I’m sure that there are folks across the political spectrum who are in line with this one.

But I don’t care.

And the reason I don’t care is because I had to ask myself this simple question: if little American boys were being snatched up into slavery, would I stand for it?  Would I turn up the music, turn up a blind eye, and pretend it wasn’t happening, if 10-year-old boys were being grabbed off the streets of Marietta?  Would I buy products that were produced with their slave labor?  Of course not.  And nothing changes with that fact because the little boys aren’t from Georgia, but rather from Africa.  Nothing.  Not if I’m serious about following the Jesus who came to set captives free, whose Father’s heart must break about such conditions.  Now that I know it’s happening, I’m responsible for that knowledge.

And so are you.

I wrote letters to major American chocolate manufacturers.  Some companies are doing something–but no company is doing enough.  In fact, here’s a great website that ranks different companies with an easy-to-understand letter grade as to their involvement in stopping slavery, etc.  Nestle gets a “C”, which isn’t terrible, I guess, but they could–and should–do more, and until they do, I can do without Crunch bars.

By the way, if chocolate is certified Fair Trade, you can generally buy it with confidence.  Yep, it costs more–but helping little boys get free from slavery is more important to me than cheap chocolate.

And it should be to you, too.

6 responses »

  1. sherry says:

    I know I should be commenting on the very important issue at hand but all I can think is…

    You’ve lost 10 lbs ALREADY?!

    I hate men………

  2. Hefe says:

    Thumbs up for Fair Trade! I think it is entirely appropriate for us who have money (pretty much anyone living in the US) to start paying for items what they are actually worth. IMHO, that is part of the problem. And Fair trade and Byron’s conscience help to remedy that.

  3. Graham says:

    I do try and buy FairTrade chocolate when I can- all the coffee I buy (lots of it) is FairTrade. It’s been around for over a decade, and is now quite mainstream- most supermarkets will have FairTrade stuff.

    However, there are a couple of objections to it from the Right, and I wonder what people think:

    (1) Only those employers who already have loads of money can pay decent wages. As the wage level is one thing that FairTrade considers, this means that poorer employers do not get the FairTrade label, and so people who want to buy ethically do not buy from the poorer employers.

    The poorer non-FairTrade employers then have to lay off staff, and there is no welfare state in the Two-Thirds World, except via aid from the West. Meanwhile, the wealthier employers in the Two-Thirds World are able to get the FairTrade label, and see their profits rise.

    On this argument, FairTrade is a lose-lose situation- in the West we pay more to buy produce and pay more in taxes to cover the aid budget increased by poor people losing their jobs, and in the Two-Thirds World, already poor people lose their jobs and become poorer.

    (2) The second objection made is that we should aim for “Free Trade not Fair Trade”. Once the West lowers our trade barriers and import duties, then the Two-Thirds World will get more money- as the other slogan goes “Trade Not Aid”.

  4. Shane Ryans says:

    I do pay attention to the fair trade logo, and make my purchases on items like chocolate that have the label. You a great man for bring about some awareness.

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