World Chocolate Day
1 CommentWednesday, 7 July 2021 | Joanna
World Chocolate Day may be an excuse for most of us to indulge in one of our favourite treats, but it also gives us a chance to think about the people who grow the cocoa that goes into it.
This time last year I was completely obsessed with cocoa. My campaign to Keep KitKat Fairtrade had been in full swing for a couple of weeks and the change.org petition was gaining traction. It would eventually reach almost 285,000 signatures - from ordinary people who care where their chocolate comes from, and want to see justice for farmers and workers. You can read the whole story on the Fairtrade Yorkshire website.
Living just 15 miles from the Nestle factory in York where KitKat bars are made - and where they were invented almost 90 years ago - the campaign was to change my life in lots of ways. But the lives of the farmers and workers in Cote d'Ivoire who grow cocoa for KitKats were set to be changed for the worse. Fairtrade has spent many years trying to improve the lives of cocoa farmers. The injustice of people working hard, long hours for an average of just 74p per day (23p per day for women farmers) has been buried for too long, and we have to speak out in support of higher wages. better working conditions and empowerment. Last summer the pandemic, growing support for the Black Lives Matter movement and this decision to reduce the price paid for cocoa collided. The statue of Edward Colston that was toppled in Bristol highlighted the injustice of colonialism and the Transatlantic slave trade - one corner of which touched down in the part of West Africa where the majority of cocoa is grown today. This is not a coincidence.
Cocoa only grows in West Africa because of colonialism. The French in Cote d'Ivoire and the British in Ghana decided to take the cocoa plant that grew naturally in central and South America and grow it in a place where they had control of the labour market. Free and cheap labour is what made chocolate into the readily available cheap treat we know and love today. So this World Chocolate Day we're asking you to take a stand - against unfair chocolate, against unfair trade, against the unfairness of a global trade system based on a racist colonial idea of who deserves a decent life.
All's Fair sells Fairtrade chocolate - only from brands we trust like Divine (20% owned by the farmers and workers of the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative) and Tony's Chocolonely who are doing fantastic work making slave-free chocolate a reality, and perhaps more importantly, cool.
But you can buy Fairtrade chocolate in most supermarkets - I've loved finding something a bit like Mars bars, Bounty bars, Mini-Magnums and Cornettos on my weekly shop in Lidl - all made using Fairtrade cocoa. This shows it is possible to make Fairtrade mainstream. So why isn't it? Why don't we find Fairtrade chocolate everywhere? Why is there still a choice?
There has been a lot of conversation this week around mask wearing - do we have the right to choose whether to protect each other by wearing a mask?
Do we have the right to choose whether our brothers and sisters working hard to grow cocoa earn a living wage? Enough to eat two meals a day. Enough to send their children to school.
Since March 2020 we have all been in this together. So when you celebrate World Chocolate Day, choose Fairtrade and choose to look after one another.