Monday, 16 July 2012
Fair Trade Chocolate
He was Steve Chalk. Steve is the Baptist Minister who heads up the Oasis charity which sponsors two of the Secondary Schools in North East Lincolnshire. He is also into a remarkable other range of things as a Christian activist. One of them is being a United Nations special advisor for community action against human trafficking.
He had been invited to Grimsby by a church based Justice and Peace Group. This is a group of Christians in North East Lincolnshire who want to think and act seriously about the way they live out their faith responsibly in the world. At the beginning of July, Churches Together in North East Lincolnshire promoted a Week Against Human Trafficking partly around Steve’s visit to this group.
So there I was sitting in St Pius’ Church listening to him. He revealed the extent to which human beings are bought and sold across the world for sexual exploitation and forced labour. It was quite a harrowing account.
I had then been asked to chair a time when people could ask questions. During a short break one person came up to me. ‘I don’t want to speak’, she said, ‘but I do want to know the answer to one question’. It was a profound question, so I began the next session by asking it for her. ‘Is my lifestyle the problem?’ she asked. ‘In what way would living my life differently make a difference?’.
And the example Steve used was chocolate. A huge amount of the raw material for the chocolate on sale in England has been harvested by trafficked labour, he said. He had tackled many of the major firms about this. They had not all responded well. It takes quite a bit of auditing to make sure a firm knows it only uses cocoa which has been harvested responsibly.
But it can be done. The work of people like Steve had meant that we are promised that four fingered (but not two fingered ) Kit Kat are made with fairly traded cocoa.
So, the message I took away was to be much more careful about the chocolate I buy. It is going to be quiet a challenge - although knowing that four fingered Kit Kats are alright is definitely going to be a help.
The article was the 'Pause for Thought' column in last week's Cleethorpes Chronicle. The picture is a sign we spotted near Novartis when returning from a walk on the Humber bank wall at the weekend; someone must have put in a bit of planning and effort to adapt the speed bump sign.