Greg and I recently decided to try to start buying fair trade chocolate, a conviction I blogged about here. A couple nights ago, Greg asked me if I had read about Nestle partnering with the Fair Labor Association to investigate the use of child slavery in its supply chain. He really didn’t have to ask: if it wasn’t featured on the front page of Yahoo! news or my friends’ blogs, then the answer was no. I hadn’t heard.
After his heads-up, I read several articles about the agreement, and while it seems like good news, it also seems from my “research” that these companies have a history of making promises without backing them up with action. So we’ll see.
Besides some healthy skepticism, my impromptu investigation of Nestle’s claims led to a couple of different emotions in me: it made me feel kind of warm and fuzzy about the populist power inherent in capitalism, while also arousing strangely competitive feelings against Great Britain.
Regarding the first emotion, look, I know capitalism has its problems. That said, there is something uniquely empowering in the ability to affect the decisions of a corporate juggernaut with the use of (a whole lotta people’s) measly little dollars. It reminds me of the thrill that my kids got at the Science Center the other day when they used a lever and pulley system to lift up a car. As Jack Sparrow would say, it’s just “a matter of leverage.” Yes, fair trade chocolate has a long way to go, but just look at how far fair trade coffee has come! When my hippie husband broached the idea of buying fair trade coffee a few years ago, I couldn’t find it anywhere, and on the rare occasions that I could physically locate the mythical bag, it was outrageously priced. Now, you can buy fair trade coffee at Wal-mart and Target, and it’s honestly not that much more expensive than regular coffee! We can do this, guys! Power to the people!
Secondly, though, must Britain always beat us to the punch on the slavery issue? I keep thinking about William Wilberforce, whom I conveniently picture as Ioan Gruffudd, and not this guy:
Gruffudd’s movie reminded me that Britain voted to abolish slavery in 1833, while the U.S. lagged some thirty years behind (and wasn’t there a war involved or something? I forget).
And their annoying moral superiority still goes on today, people!
Did you know that Nestle already sells a fair trade Kit Kat bar in Britain? And it’s not like Kit Kats are some little rinky-dink candy over there: they are the best-selling chocolate bar in the UK! And Cadbury also has a fair trade line of chocolate that they sell in Britain.
But do they sell the fair trade Kit Kats in the U.S.? And for that matter, does Cadbury sell fair trade chocolate in the States? No, and no.
I confess that I haven’t fully investigated the disparity, but I can only imagine it’s because they know we don’t care. We. don’t. care. Because if we did, we wouldn’t buy them, and then they’d have to sell us something we would buy. It’s quite simple, when you think about it. And so now, I’m feeling competitive. We’re America, dang it! We are proud of our morality, our Christian heritage…unlike those pagan Europeans! (Sarcasm.) Did Bradford call England the “city on a hill”? No, he called America that.
So…why are we still behind?
Well….probably because we (read: me) are not so awesome at sticking to buying fair trade chocolate. Oh, we can do the chocolate chips and the cocoa mix, and we don’t really buy chocolate bars anyway…but we (okay, I!) have two downfalls. One is M&M’s. I don’t buy them for myself (for real–I really don’t buy candy just for the heck of it), but I did “need” them for my gingerbread house party and for SANTA bingo with the Y.E.S. kids’ Christmas party. In retrospect, I could have probably used some substitutes, but I was in a hurry and not thinking creatively. Really, there’s no excuse, but I’m not as concerned about the errant M&M’s because they were for unique circumstances. What really bothers me is the brownie mix.
In my house, we always have three or four boxes of brownie mix. Because of the nature of Greg’s job, we usually have people over to eat about once a week, and brownies are a really quick, easy dessert to throw together. Plus, they often go on sale, buy-one-get-one free, and there are tons of coupons. Cheap, simple, delicious. There’s just one problem. It recently occurred to me (like, today, when I was unloading my four boxes of Ghiradelli brownies from Publix) that brownie mixes have chocolate in them. And I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the chocolate is probably not fair trade.
Now, that will require a lifestyle change. (Seriously, we love brownies that much!)
I often have to reorient my gaze to the big picture (CHILD SLAVERY!), and remind myself that I really am committed to being more responsible with my measly dollars. But now, you gotta help me out. It would be so great if I had some good, quick, easy, cheap, non-chocolate-laden dessert ideas to replace my brownies. I need the kind of thing that most guests would like and that I could throw together easily when we are having people over. In fact, that’s going to be my ending question:
Do you know any desserts that fit my criteria? This is important, people (and I’m only sort of joking)!
I will leave you with this for inspiration (I couldn’t find any clips like I wanted, so I had to go with the preview. And full disclosure: I may have a penchant for cheesiness):
“If there is a bad taste in your mouth, you spit it out.”
I agree completely.